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Date: 07 Aug 2015 00:58:12
Title: Fiji 2 by Penny

So, here I am in paradise! Today, Thursday 6th August Fiji time, the sun is shining from a cloudless blue sky, turquoise waters lap onto the white sands and palm fronds clatter above me. 

Whilst it may sound a trifle churlish, being subject to weather conditions somewhat less clement than the most miserable wet and windy August day in Cornwall was  really not what I had travelled 16 000 miles, agonised over, lost a day of my life, all at great  expense to Steve for....but today it is all worth it; And yes, of course, I have primarily  journeyed all this way to see Steve, not just to hedonistically lounge about in paradise! 


We are now on Tokoriki island at the Sheraton resort, having spent yesterday traveling here from the main island of Viti Levu yesterday.


"BUULAA!" The most extraordinarily loud and enthusiastic welcome at the entrance to the Outrigger resort uttered by a man with arms thrown heavenwards and with the biggest smile ever encountered, was quite startling!By the fourth morning, when we left, having been welcomed and au revoired in exactly the same manner on many occasions, even if only leaving in a buggy to go up the hairpin bends to the spa, it was considerably less startling and almost dare I say a little tiresome. I began feeling a bit sorry for the person who's job it was to do this all day, but then thought that it was probably something Josh would love to do! We were told many times how happy the Fijian people all are. Our experience has entirely endorsed this. Whatever, whoever, wherever we have been everyone says Bula (welcome) to us, with a huge smile. 


I slept all day Saturday and all day Sunday, inspite of or because of the weather outside I'm not entirely sure. Nights were then long and wakeful, but with Britain being 11 hours behind, ( I missed out on Friday 31st July altogether, despite the journey totalling almost 30 hours, and spent quite a lot of the 30 hours trying to get my head round what time it was and how this could possibly be when I wasn't actually Dr Who) my poor old body had some readjusting to do. Steve has had a year to gradually adjust along the way so had no such sleep disruption. He didn't seem overly distressed at my lack of scintillating  company.....or if he was, he hasn't voiced it! (He has, however, known me for 34 years during which time he had become accustomed to the fact that when Penny needs to sleep, resistance is pointless!) 


That it was our 31st wedding anniversary on Tuesday was freakishly common knowledge. As soon as we gave our names at any point at the resort we were greeted with "ah, it's your anniversary, 31 years, congratulations!" On returning to our Bure from a hot shell massage (mmmm) at the spa we found a heart drawn and  "happy anniversary" spelt out in flower petals on our bed, balloons tied to the bedstead, and within minutes Tave our 'butler' arrived with champagne and canopies, quickly followed by joyful minstrels singing us a Fijian happy anniversary song. This was repeated after our meal later on,  following it being sung to an Australian couple next to us, who were also celebrating 31 years of marriage! Moses, our waiter, was amused and said that such a coincidence had only happened once before. 

On balance I think it's safe to say that the 31st anniversary was an improvement on our "peeing in a bucket 30th!" 


Facts about Fiji and the lovely Fiji people


They all wear flowers behind their ears, left if you are single, right if you are married...(or it might be the other way round.) and one in the middle of your forehead if you're desperate we were told!!

In villages the land is passed from generation to generation, down the male line. If there are several sons it is split accordingly.

Whale's  teeth serve as currency and are expected to be paid for a bride, this is historical and the teeth are continuously recirculated and therefore very valuable.


On entering a Fijian village it is customary to present a Cava root. All are then expected to respectfully partake of the Cava, which is made from grinding the root to powder, adding water, then bowls passed around with claps and bula said before downing the contents, in the welcoming ceremony. Cava has calming properties, (and made my tongue go a bit numb!)

Village communities benefit greatly from tourism. The village elder at the village we visited explained how the money from tourists paying to come to the village and take part in the Cava ceremony, dance with the chilled out village guys and eat the delicious food the women prepare, has paid for electricity and 2 televisions amongst the 18 families! This, he said, was fantastic, as now the people could choose which house to go to depending on which rugby team they were supporting! The sense of contentment, whether Cava induced or just the general Fijian attitude is enlightening. They don't  have much, but what they do have they share and genuinely seem happy. 


I was reminded of an Assembly I did in school quite recently: " happiness is not about having the best of everything but about making the best of everything." It would, I am sure, have more impact upon our material rich Twyford children were they to visit Fiji...however...lovely and life enhancing as that would be, sadly, our budget and risk assessment could not quite cope with flying 240 children to Fiji! 


Fiji is really called Viti. Captain Cook named it Fiji as the Tongans told him about the Viti islands but the sounds for Viti are not in their vocabulary so it sounded to Cook like Fiji, at least, that's what our informative taxi driver told us. Viti, he said, is the name for the sound of a stock snapping. He had a penchant for history and told us many things...however what is actually true  may possibly be spurious....he assured us there would be no mosquitoes, "wrong  time of year" which was definitely a lie - I have at least 15 attractive mossie bites!! 



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