Monday, December 19, 2011
One of the benefits of our first destination outside of the United States is the pace of life here. It’s a “no worries, no hurries’ kind of lifestyle, which has really helped us slow down after the ordeal of getting here. After arriving in Nadi, Fiji, on the largest of the nations’ 330 plus islands, we had about nine hours before our flight to Savusavu thanks to a schedule change and we weren’t sure what we were going to do with that time. We couldn’t check our bags until 3 hours before departure, but fortunately Air Pacific gave us a “day room” at a hotel near the airport, along with a voucher for lunch at the hotel restaurant. Ben and Marley hit the pool, we jumped at the chance for some free internet access, then went to the lobby to grab a cab and check out the local scene for a bit. We asked our driver what he would recommend and he suggested the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, about a fifteen minute drive from the hotel.
The garden was at the foot of a mountain that had a profile that looked like a, well, sleeping giant. He apparently had too much of the local liquor, Kava, which is made from crushed roots and strained through a cheesecloth, producing a brownish liquid that is said to numb the tongue and make you very lazy. The taste is said to be somewhere in the dirt family. Appetizing, no? I’ll have to ask the sommelier at my next nice dinner out to see if he can pair my pan-seared Chilean Sea Bass with a nice Fijian Kava. Anyway, our trek through the garden was a peaceful stroll through the jungle, with a variety of birds and some frogs to keep us company. After some fresh mango juice at the end of the tour, our driver took us to the village of Nadi, which, considering it’s the largest town in Fiji, surprised me at it’s lack of development. There is a McDonalds on the outskirts of town, but we managed to fight off the urge to McCafe our day and wandered through the dusty streets, being urged by shopkeepers to come inside.
The shoppers in our group, (Annie and Marley) couldn’t resist, so we entered a store that had a variety of local clothes. Marley bought a sarong that looks adorable in, and I fought off the efforts of one of the men in the store who wrapped me in what looked like two skirts that he said would make me blend right in. I resisted his advances by saying we were taking a long trip and had all the clothes I needed and safely left the establishment with only the one purchase.
Our driver then led us to a massive market that covered a full city block, where all kinds of fruits and vegetables were sold. The fragrant smell was tempting, but we still had one more flight to catch and decided to wait until Savusavu to buy any produce. A quick stop at a Hindu Temple, then it was back to the hotel for our free lunch. There, our education in a different culture continued as when Ben got the “cheese burger” he ordered, we discovered that here, a burger is a bun with whatever you put in it, in this case, just cheese, no beef. We filed that little nugget of knowledge away and headed back to the airport for the one-hour flight to Savusavu.
The flight to Savusavu with 17 people on board was almost full, as the 20-seater dual prop plane took off at a steep angle but provided some breathtaking views. We were seated in accordance to the weight we registered when we checked out bags and physically stood on the scale with whatever we were carrying on to the plane. The hour passed fairly quickly and we landed uneventfully at the Savusavu airport. It didn’t take any announcements to know what baggage carousel to claim our luggage as it was loaded on to a cart and brought a few feet away to the passengers.
A taxi driver named Sirah loaded our luggage into his cab with it’s colorfully decorated interior and we asked him to take us to the market to get a few things to eat and drink and then he took us to the house we reserved for our time in Savusavu. We grilled a tuna steak that we bought at the local market for just $4 Fijian, which is about $2 US, and relaxed, glad to be able to settle down for two weeks after a frenetic travel schedule in getting here.