In the early morning hours, we awoke to the blackberry alarm to pack our things and move onto our next location. As we rounded up our final belongings and said our good byes to our foster cat, Rafael, while we gave him the last of our cheese slices, Sirah’s taxi rattled into the drive way. Our silent companion and ambassador of Savusavu, it only seemed fitting for Sirah to give us one last ride to our departing leg of travel.
We had gone down this bumpy, largely muddy, unpaved road almost daily over the last two weeks. It was just at the crack of dawn with the sun barely starting its ascent into the day. It was hard not to be reflective on the first stop of our grand family adventure.
It was Fiji’s summer season so it was definitely at the peak summer temperatures. This meant lots of heat and humidity along with a steady application of Deet to keep the bug bites to an annoying but manageable level. As we discussed the town of Savusavu in general, we remarked on how, as a visitor, it was difficult to see some of the offerings in town.
Having been from a culture where the marketing efforts are painstakingly honed to drive specific consumer behavior, we found the hand lettering and shear mass of words an interesting part of the city landscape. More than once we remarked,…”Hey, I never saw that sign that says you can rent bikes and scooters.”…..or “Hey, I never noticed that Inn over there.”
One of our favorites was a fish store that specialized in “Anything to do with Paper”. While you are buying your Wahoo, you can get some letterhead made. How convenient!
There was also one of our favorite offerings of the DVD store. You walked into a store with video cases arranged by category. You would pick your video case and bring it to the counter to get your “bootleg” copy for $2 Fijian which is just about $1US. That certainly fit in our budget!
The entire family agreed that the most beautiful aspect of the Fijian islands was the Fijian people. Here is a country that is clearly living with minimal material comforts and generally low paying jobs. Their homes are largely plywood and corrugated steel, usually with no windows. Bill noted one house we passed with its door open on our way to depart. There was a TV and a smattering of possessions along the floor and a man reading a paper in the lone chair. Chickens and roosters intermingled in the yards amongst the clothes lines which were hung virtually everywhere. Stray dogs ran happily around town weaving amongst the taxis and the local market.
Despite what appeared to our worldview as a window into poverty, we did not encounter one person begging for food or money. Crime seemed generally non-existent. And there was always a warm smile and “Bula!” from every person we met. In addition, the island was made up of a mix of Fijian, Indian and other Asian cultures with a dash of Aussie or Kiwi thrown into the mix. Racial tension seemed non-existent.
As we move through this journey together, starting off with an example of true human kindness, tolerance, gratitude and cooperation was a great view on a life to aspire to.
We are forever grateful to the Fijian people and in tribute to our kind and gentle taxi driver…Que Sirah, Sirah!