Catsnstuff Down Under – 5.1: Fiji part two

So, this is the final story of my travels through Australia and Fiji, two weeks after my return. I’m contemplating doing a stat story about my trip (number of kilometers travelled, money spent, etc), but that would probably bore anyone but me. Anyhow, here comes the last proper travel tale!

My last day in Lavena, where my mom lives with Buli was really nice. There was another fundraiser (see part 1) a.k.a. loads more kava drinking. And this time, I had finally felt a little intoxication. I went with my mom, Buli and Maddie and Tess, two lovely Australian girls. We were all dancing a lot and getting quite a bit of kava, and were having a great time. To chase the taste of the bitter booze, we bought suger-cononut balls. The richest, most filling thing I had in a long long time, but delicious! After a while, accepting all the kava that came our way made us feel really nauseous, so Maddie, Tess and I headed back to the lodge. But not after I had a dance with Siri, a man that was not ‘totally good’ in the terms of the people from Lavena, which means he was mentally a little behind the rest. He loves dancing though, and I couldn’t leave without having a dance with him, much to his delight, not to mention that of the rest of the people. And after that, I had to say goodbye to the lovely people of Lavena, and there are loads of them. Maybe I’ll be back after some years saving my butt off, but it will take a little while.

Me, Resi and Buli went to the island of Vanua Levu (roughly means ‘big land’) to visit Buli’s brother and his family. We went on a boat ride for an hour or two, where the mop was passed around happily and hastily between passengers who were taking turns throwing up. Lovely! The highlight of the trip was when there was a lot of shouting from all directions and the boat came to a halt. I thought for a minute we were going to do a lil’ Titanic, but it turned out someone had caught a fish. And with fish I mean a Yellowfin Tuna. It’s big:

Link to picture here. By the way, the one pictured above is quite small…

When we arrived on Vanua Levu all we had to do was take the bus to Kanakana. Sounds easy, but it isn’t. The first part went swimmingly: we took a bus for ten minutes and were then dropped off at the transfer point. Now let me tell you about the tranfer point in question. It turned out we had to wait for five hours for the bus to Kanakana. That’s all right when there is food and cold beverages in the vicinity of said transfer point. It’s certainly not all right when you’re stuck in a ramshackle golf plate covered shed with an old desk in it that features as a bench / bed. I’m so sad I thought my camera was broken, because it’s something you have to see to really believe it. Anyways, after waiting and sleeping for about two hours we woke up to find a group of about fifteen school children staring at us. Buli tried to talk to them, but they just stared at me and my mom with open mouths. They left after 15 minutes of them ogling at us, and us feeling very awkward for about the same amount time.

We tried to stop some trucks to take us to Kanakana, because waiting in the bus stop for three hours more just didn’t seem very appealing. After about five tries, a truck finally agreed to take us and off we went! Well, in the back of the truck that is. Resi and I sat on a bag of cement as chairs as we bounced between the rest of the stuff the truck was carrying, and Buli just hang off the end of the truck, because there was no more room for him. That’s travelling Fiji style ya’ll! After a very, very bumpy ride (more about road conditions in Fiji later) we arrived after about 35 minutes in Kanakana, where Buli’s sister-in-law Veronica and her lovely mother Agatha came to greet us.

The kids (Resi, named after my mom, 1 year; Joni, 3 years; Naqesa, 7 years and Merisiana, 10 years) were lovely, and I’m not a kiddy person at all. Well, Little Resi cried a LOT, which was kind of a pain in the butt, but the rest of them were pretty much happy all the time. Especially when they got gifts from one of my moms best friends (also my surrogate mom here in Amsterdam). Par example:


That’s Merisiana on the top right. The rest of them are kids from the village that were around the house all the time.

Joni on the right bottom, Naqesa top left. The rest: even more kids. Special accolade to Grace, the serious girl in the middle of the first row. She was totally adorable! And like I said: not to big on kids here.

Little Resi with Veronica, and Agatha in the background. Always cooking and cleaning, and if you offered to help her, she looked at you in horror.

The whole time we were there we were fed constantly and it was delicious. Sweets, cakes, rice with ‘lolo’ aka coconut milk, fish stews. I felt like exploding after a day. Most of the children got used to us very quickly, but there was a new batch of them in the house every day staring at me and my mom. Because I’m very, very white I was thought to be an actress. I didn’t understand why that was logical for them, but it turned out some of the children had never seem white people in real life before, only on television shows. Therefore, I was an actress. I was stunned to learn that they really had never been around tourists, but the spot is very hard to get to (see above ;)). It was a strange experience, and also very uncomfortable sometimes, because not being able to have any privacy and being stared at for days on end does get old sometimes. It’s normal in Fiji for people to walk in and out of each others houses, so nobody thought it would bother me that there were always at least five people around me at all times. Those are times where you really learn about cultural differences, and how ‘western’ you actually are. Very enlightening, a great way to meet new people, but also quite exhausting.

We left after three days. Resi and I were heading to Suva, the capital of Fiji on another island and Buli was going back to Taveuni. This meant Buli and I had to say goodbye knowing we would probably not see each other for some years. It was very hard, because we got so close in a short period of time, and it still makes me very sad to think back to that moment. Luckily, I have talked to him on the phone for a couple of times already, which was great!

Anyway, what followed after our goodbye was really the worst bus ride ever. No, really, ever. In the history of mankind. Well, except for bus rides you make when you actually drop off a cliff I guess. But I can tell you that five hours in a bus that goes about 10 kilometers an hour on a road that looks like there was a trench war like WWI just recently is terrible. Five whiplashes later we arrived at the airport in Savusavu to take our plane to Nadi, and we had to wait for two hours. If waiting becomes an Olympic event Fijians will take all the gold. Good thing we had to wait though, because there was a funeral taking place right next to the airstrip. About sixty people walked over the tarmac to pay their last respects to someone. Because really, when you think about it, having a funeral ceremony next to a landing space for airplanes is ideal. Quiet and safe!

When we entered our plane, it turned out we were the only passengers. It really felt like a private jet, so cool! When we arrived in Nadi, we were not done travelling yet. O no, we had four more hours ahead of us in a taxi to Suva. But not before having a coffee and cheesecake (both of which were from heaven) at the Republic of Cappuccino. It’s good we had that little pick-me-up, because our taxi driver was nuts. I think he had a death wish, because when we got out the car in Suva I think we almost killed a dog, two people and five birds. It was the worst car ride I ever had, and I really was convinced we would crash. Amazingly, we survived. I think it was the coffee and cheesecake from heaven…

Resi and I had a great time in Suva. We stayed at here friend Susie’s place, the Colonial Lodge. A glorious, spacious, clean B&B. Which looks even better when you take pictures of it when you clean you lens.

See that white haze on the top? I thought my lens was damaged from taking too many pictures into the sun, and was afraid to make it worse by taking photo’s. That’s why I don’t have many pictures of Fiji sadly enough. But behold the magic of the Q-tip (the cotton ear swab, not the rapper):

Yes, I suck. After travelling about 14 hours, I just dropped in a coma and woke up pretty refreshed the next morning. Enough to enjoy Susie’s pets: her two dogs and her cat Kimberly. I could not just say Kimberly, I pronounced it Kiiiieeeeem-ber-lyyyyyyyyyyy. Don’t know why, but she had it coming! Here they are:

Mutual cleaning, no biting involved

“Kiiiieeem-ber-lyyyyy, why the long face!!!! What do you mean I annoy you?”

“I’m outta here, hooman!”

Kimberly on the prowl

Kimberly’s best ignoring pose

Now let me tell you a very cool story about Kimberly, I wish I had a camera present when it happened. One night, me, my mom and Susie were relaxing when Kimberly came running in. She had the biggest eyes, a smug and excited look on her face and dirt all over her belly and legs. It took us a moment to realise she had caught something. And that something was a bat. A cat caught a bat. Not quite a Dr. Seuss tale really, but man, I didn’t know cats could do that. I felt a little sorry for the bat as he was paraded around the room by Kimberly showing off her hunting skills, but she really impressed me then.

In Suva, me and Resi didn’t do a lot, except shopping and browsing. For about the next three days actually. I didn’t spend that much (thank God), but it was nice to be able to shop a little again, and to order coffee. And then came the sad moment where I had to say goodbye to my mom. It was not as hard as with Buli, because I will see her again soon, thankfully.

The last four days of my trip I spent in Brisbane, with a friend of my mom, Peter. I was welcomed into Australia from the plane with this sunset:

Peter and I had a great time together watching old and odd movies (Indochine, Welcome to Woop Woop). We also visited his mother on the Gold Coast, where I forgot some of my clothes. Hey, at least I saved some space! After four days of good food and even greater company, I was off to The Netherlands again! And that my dear friends, is the end of the road for me, and for writing there absurdly long posts. I’m back to posting cat pictures again, so all my friends who like these travel stories: you’ll have to wait a little again. Well, I am going to Denmark for five days on Friday, so who knows..

Love, Lotte

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