Thursday, July 30, 2009
Bounty Island was our 2 night stop-over on the way home - anything rather than stay in Nadi! It's a small resort near the mainland, which takes 25 minutes to walk round. It's a nature sanctuary, lots of coral on the beach, a pool next to the sea and a long Happy Hour.
It had an almost deserted feel to it - and we were thanked for coming despite Fiji's crisis and governement (the first time it had been mentioned during our holiday)
The food was buffet style, the bure was adequate and right on the beach.
We met new people at dinner and lots of folk from the UK, travelling the world.
We encountered 'sea-lice' which bite you and cause a rash when you go swimming - I decided I'd done enough snorkelling. And at night black tip sharks came into the shallows, literally a foot away, herding shoals of fish for supper. I'd never realised that sharks hunted in packs, it was an amazing sight!
Our last few days were spent walking around the island, finishing off our novels, watching the spectacular sunsets and chatting to people from around the word. Not a bad end to the holiday!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Our lovo experience was at Naqalia Lodge - and it took all day to prepare. The family came and fetched us to watch the preparations at each stage. First they picked six breadfruits from around the resort.
Their cooking area was in the center of the family's house, apparently so the smoke repels insects and strengthens the roof thatching. They didn't have any mosquito netting at all, and the fire was on day and night. The breadfruits were baked whole.
The lovo is an earth oven — a fire made in a pit in the ground (it was like a giant sandpit) lined with heat-resistant stones. It was similar to the hangi here in New Zealand that the Māori have.
The stones were collected and piled up together, then the logs were lit underneath and we had to come back several hours later.
Once the stones were hot, and we knew this because they were white,the wood was removed and the food, wrapped in plaited palm leaves and also covered in green banana leaves, was placed in the pit.
This was fine, until they began to cover the leaves with sand and a wheelbarrow turned up with soil in, which also went on top.
We stood and looked at our dinner.
It was all left to cook for hours until it was dark, before being exhumed and the sand dug away and the parcels of food removed and eaten.
There were some burned fingers and our torch came in handy - a lot more of the soil was removed than would have been.. I think!
Some of the dishes cooked this way included palusami, parcels of taro leaves saturated with coconut milk, onions, and fish, chicken, & tubers of cassava.
This is taro in coconut cream!
Of course, the lovo began as a ceremonial cannibalistic ritual to make the missionaries tender enough to eat (including their leather shoes!)
Monday, July 27, 2009
We booked our Fijian island hopping holiday months ago - but, be warned, that doesn't mean you will get what you booked! When we arrived at the airport we were greeted by a perspiring travel agent who told us that we could not go to WayLeiLei, which we had booked, and we would have to go to Naqalia Lodge istead (there were no options)
Greg in the coral bed at low tide, finding octopus for dinner...
It was described as a 'new resort' which is always a bit worrying.
The bure was huge and comfortable, if not quite built yet! The walls only came up to roof height and then there was a gap at the top, open to the jungle. This meant that the first giant spider was spotted by Jess who immediately leapt onto her bed, when this was followed by the largest cricket we've ever seen, we knew we were going to have fun!
Mosquito netting was on the front windows, but none of the others and we had to send out to another island for mosquito nets.The showers were cold.
It was a family run resort and we had booked for 3 nights.. we walked to the nearby village through head height grasses and next cove along, and the resort we would have been at (we shouldn't have done that)
The family were fabulous and couldn't do enough for us - all we had to do was ask - I think they served us food they thought we liked (it was dreadful)
The highlight was when they did a lovo for us and baked the dinner under hot stones and sand (bit like a hangi)we had snapper and chicken, taro and cassava and the kava ceremony in full regalia.
We had a lovely time really and experienced the 'real' Fiji, it's just that I don't like the big spiders or the cold showers!
Thursday, July 23, 2009
We've been here before - last time we stayed for two weeks and relaxed and got to know the crew really well. It was amazing how many of them remembered us after a year!
The three days went really fast, in our favourite place under the tree, meals that were delicious and Movie Night, by the pool.
It has new managers, who greeted us on the beach, and they seemed to be adjusting to Fijian life and the "don't worriee, be happiee" approach, which I'm sure can be frustrating when you run a resort!
Sophia played volleyball with the locals (if there is a National Fijian sport it would have to be volleyball), I had a Fijian massage (which was a bit of a surprise!) and Greg went wall-diving amongst the sea-urchins.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Otto and Fanny are brother and sister - and what typical Fijian names they have (not)! Here is Fanny with the girls - she had some tall tales to tell about the tourists over the years .. but that didn't put Greg off going on the cliff walk!
We weren't quite expected, even though we had booked months ago, and weren't expecting what was there either! The bure was large and spacious and set in the middle of what used to be a coconut plantation, so lots of coconuts everywhere and grass leading down to the beach.
Fanny told us that we had arrived during an "eight day wind" cycle and it gusted all along the beach. However, a five minute stroll, headlong into the wind to the tip of the island, and you turned the corner into absolute sheltered silence, warm, sunny and sandy - bit of a secluded surprise!
Another thing we weren't expecting was the food - Fanny used to run the catering for a large resort in Fiji, and wow, was she a good cook - we had three course, home-cooked meals and thoroughly enjoyed them!
They chopped down coconuts for us and we had a drink, it was thirsty work lounging in the hammock!
We noticed that in the afternoon tourists from other resorts came over in boats for 'tea' and gobbled cakes and drank huge mugs of tea at our place. There was a little sign on the beach listing banana, chocolate and lemon cake for teatime treats. Word seemed to have spread.
They also took us, by boat, across the bay to the Blue Lagoon for the afternoon - the snorkelling was beautiful and the resort along from the lagoon looked like somewhere I could live, forever!
It was called Navutu Lodge and is on my wish-list for when I win the lotto (highly recommended for anyone visiting Fiji)
Saturday, July 18, 2009
This resort was one we spotted from the ferry boat last time - we had taken a Day Trip to it, to see if we could find the Giant Manta Rays and swim with them!
This time we stayed for 3 days in the hopes of spotting them - but no luck.
We did think at one point that they were airlifting them in for us,and that this was a bit extreme - but this one had been injured. It gives you an idea of their size!
There was excellent diving and kayaking and snorkelling.
We had one bure on the beachfront, with its own hammock and sea views and one garden top bure for the girls, with vines around it and birds in the trees.
The down side was that it was an Eco-resort (which means that it's all environmentally friendly) so the showers were all cold and the electricity was limited - the generators went off at 10pm.
What it did mean, was that the stars were amazing - with no lights to obscure them we could see galaxies and star clusters so clearly it was unreal.
Also, the crabs came out at night and danced on the sand and dug tunnels, which we wouldn't have seen otherwise. Jessie's underwater camera took this picture - it's a whole other world under the water!
The restaurant was a steep climb up the hill but that meant we had an appetite and a view! There were palm trees and hibiscus everywhere, the girls collected hermit crabs and raced them and began to get tanned running, kayaking, snorkelling around everywhere.
We went kayak surfing with our guide (who lost his sunglasses in the waves) Jess was nearly lost at sea, while Sophia and I skirted around the wildest piece of water and made it to the beach on the other side of the island. Kayak surfing involves lots of high pitched yelling and hurtling kayaks - I'm surprised there aren't more accidents!