February 13, 2017
First of all, happy birthday to my sister Deb. Even though it is still the 12th where you live, have been thinking of you all day!
They have a very active trivia presence on the ship. We don’t participate even though we would sometimes like to. That’s because once the groups get formed, they are VERY serious about it and if you don’t show up, they replace you. They have it twice a day on sea days, and many times we have dinner with people who just don’t enjoy their meal because they are so focused on getting to trivia for the 8:30 time. We don’t want to be tied down to that! Anyway, Leslie, the cruise director, is really into it and comes up with very hard topics. This one was reported to us as “over and above”!
“Where are ‘neirs’ found?” No one knew. Of course the answer was “Suva”. Everyone has heard of Suva neirs!
This is our first visit to Fiji. We have a new destinations enrichment lecturer on board, Peter Croyle, and he did a talk on Fiji yesterday. It was mostly about the town and some of what you might do here. Our choice was the Navua River by longboat. And what a day it was! We were greeted as we left the ship by these lovelies. I didn’t feel at all threatened!
We had two guides, Tony and Freddy – of course not their real names – those are too long for us to remember! They were very delighted to have us visit Fiji and kept telling us so during the visit. There are 340 islands that make up Fiji, this one, Viti, is the largest and Suva is the capital. We traveled in their city buses, not air conditioned, and Tony told us it was to see how 75% of the population travels. Only 25% own cars.
They were also very happy to have sunshine and so were we! It rains a lot here – every month. There is not an official rainy season although November to May gets the most rain – July is the driest month and it still gets 125 mm of rain on average. So we lucked out – several small showers during the day but mostly sun and clouds. In the downtown, they have the biggest fruit and vegetable market, the biggest cinema and the biggest bus station in the entire South Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand. That was a real surprise to us.
We had a 45 minute drive through the countryside to reach the Navua River and our longboats. 7 people were in each boat and it was a leisurely trip upriver, except for the rapids! At one point we had to get out of the boat and walk a short distance as we surely would have been tossed in! Along the way we saw horses, cows and goats, a few varieties of birds and lots of waterfalls. The area is a thick tropical rainforest and you really don’t see much civilization.
Our first stop was the Magic Waterfall, the largest on the Navua River. It is really quite spectacular – and we had a wonderful, refreshing swim here.
After the swim, we got back into the boats and went to the village of Koromakallia where we took part in a traditional Fijian kava ceremony. This ceremony invites us to be part of the village and they really mean it. If you knock on any door in the village after the kava ceremony, you will be treated as family. Tony and Freddy referred to us as their family the rest of the day.
At the village, we did taste the kava – I wouldn’t recommend it though. It makes your tongue and lips a little numb and supposedly is used as an antidepressant in China and as an ingredient in the US.
We had a short show and then had lunch prepared by the local women. It was delicious. Interestingly, they also offered what they called Subway – sandwiches made on the same kind of rolls.
Today at 6 we leave this side of the island and travel to Lautoka, on the other side. We will be going to Tivua Island on an excursion. Looking forward to another wonderful day with the friendly people of Fiji. Bula! It means hello, thank you, welcome, etc and you hear it everywhere from everyone!