Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fish Are Rising Up Like Birds

Attempting to escape the cold of winter, Kimberly and I bolted over to Taveuni, Fiji. Who knew it would be windy, rainy and cold? At least I got to read 6 books during the time the electricity was on.

In a feeble attempt to scam off the expenses as a business deduction, I have submitted this travel piece. The answers to the following FAQ could very possibly be complete canards.

What language is spoken in Fiji?

English is the common language. However, you best learn one word, “Bula”. It means hello. Fijians are some of the most friendly and beautiful people in the world and they greet everyone they see with a big “Bula”. All you need do is parrot it back and you are instantly bi-lingual.

How is the food?

40% of Fijians are of Indian ancestry. Dot, not feather. As a result, locals and tourists can select from provisions of either culture. Travel tip – If it tastes like coconut, food is Fijian. If your mouth is in flames and your eyes are watering out of your ears, it is Indian. A popular snack is the chicken roti ($1), sort of like a burrito. Beware. The chicken component is not actually meat, but bone and cartilage. There is heavy irony in choking to death on the diced neck of a chook.

Shopping opportunities?

Most storekeepers are enterprising Indians and will be overjoyed to show you their vast supply of crappy souvenirs and trinkets. They tend to distrustfully hover just nearby enough to make the browser feel like they are being scrutinized by a human security camera. The resorts and hotels have similar crappy trinkets, but they triple the price and linger at a much more dignified distance.

What bugs and other pests might I encounter?

In your average bure (room) you are certain to be greeted by affable roaches and ravenous mosquitoes, so pack plenty of repellant. Travel tip – roaches, cowardly lowlife that they are, will scurry from illumination. So sleep with all the lights on and everything will be copasetic.
Your room will include a can of spray in case you don’t want to bespatter your jandal. Also, the finer places supply an entire family of eco-friendly geckos foot-suckering the walls and ceiling with cute lizardy maneuvers.
Tramping out in the wild, I nearly walked into the web of the harmless
Argiope arachnid. It was big as.

I risked my life to take a picture, just for you.

What about the coup?

Fiji consists of 3 large islands and 300 small ones. The coup has seemed to affect only Suva, the capital on the biggest island. Go somewhere else. Most residents on the outer islands never heard of Frank Bainimarama. They are of the opinion that it is a fruit and coconut dessert.

Can I buy an island?

Are you fabulously wealthy? Then, yes, you can. The late Malcolm Forbes sold his Laucala Island near Taveuni for about $US10 million. The purchaser, billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz of Red Bull fame, will be pouring in another 340 million to develop a 7-star resort. Look for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom Cruise to be opening guests. You can join them if you’ve got $20,000 a night. Otherwise, dare you even pass the island in a boat, you will be required to avert your gaze.

Should I rent a car?

Are you fabulously wealthy? Then, yes, you can. Taveuni roads are actually thousands of huge craters framed by thin layers of mud. Renting a car makes you responsible for the certain damage to shocks and springs. Everyone takes cabs. Even cabbies take cabs. Rates vary depending on residency. Locals pay less than Americans. Look for a taxi with a yellow license plate. I was told white ones mean no auto insurance.

What about drugs?

Hey, buddy, watch out. This is a high-class family blog!

But since you let the cat out of the baggie, Cannabis is illegal just like in New Zealand. Also, like New Zealand, it is very popular and readily available. Locals supplement their $US2000 annual income by merchandizing the buds. Supporting your village drug dealer might get you a visit from the boys in blue who could slap you into a dark cell shared by affable cockroaches. Fiji’s finest will then sell your stash for a tidy profit.

The legal drug of choice is KAVA. Locally grown, this muddy tasting beverage is said to induce sleep and relaxation. It is the complete opposite of Red Bull. Sit in a circle with others and choose to quaff down High Tide (full cup) or Low Tide (short shot). Drinking is accompanied by clapping. I received many standing ovations before passing out into my curry.

Tell me about the diving?

Are you fabulously wealthy? The waters off Taveuni are chockablock with all manner of swimming things including divers. You will need a TIC card and $250 for a 2-tank dive into nature’s unrivaled aquarium. Blowing of the mind is assured. For those on a modest budget, snorkeling is gratis and heaps of sea life and coral are right at the fingertips. If you are lucky, you will see a sea snake or shark. Those very fortunate snorkelers might spy, just 30 below them, the wetsuit encased diverus prosperous.

I hear Fijians are cannibals. Might I be devoured?

Nothing to worry about unless you are a friar. The last supper was consumed about 150 years ago and consisted of the savoriest parts of 9 British missionaries. Starter was an appealing green salad, smothered in coconut, and the sides were a choice between mash and breadfruit. Beverage – High Tide Kava. Dessert- Frank Bainimarama. Cannibalism came to an end after development of the more socially acceptable, chicken roti.

There you have it. Certainly nobody will confuse me with the Lonely Planet guy.

Happy trails


At 2:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the wonderful education on Fiji. Glad you got away from your "hell whole" of N.Z.!!!!!!!!! Yep, leaving paradise for a vacation....interesting. Fun to see and I bet Ricky jumped out of his chair when seeing the spider - actually quite impressive of you to get so close for a photo shoot. At least daddy was not following you down the hall with a tissue:):) love robin

At 12:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

should have gone to bali, better food, better folks, better weather, better culture, fewere roaches


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