My favourite Fiji moment so far was hiking up a small mountain close to Bureta. The hike up was scrambly and steep – so good! The view was really nice from the top. After hiking back down we were able to jump off a big rock into the river. To get out you could either wade down to where you can walk out or you can rock climb back out of the water (deep water solo!). Naturally I jumped off four times.
Corey, John and I got super stoked on the way to Ovalau because we had our first rock sighting. We have heard rumours that there is climbing and bouldering here. I’m really hoping that it works out and we will be able to get some in. I will keep track of it all in this blog because I haven’t found any other internet resource with it yet!
The last few days of orientation week we went to Bureta village on Ovalau (this village is where we did all the kava activities). Bureta is a collection of smaller villages of about 1000 people I think. They have running water and electricity.
I really enjoyed billeting with the families in the village – Karoliina (a student from Finland) and I stayed with the doctor of the village. We slept on mattresses on the floor and was quite comfortable! There were A LOT of frogs that liked to hang out on our porch.
We spent most of the weekend dancing and mingling with the locals (of all ages!). The young girls were really good at booty shaking! They said they learned how to dance like that in school!
They cooked us traditional Fijian food and it was very delicious and special. I found it interesting how they served the food. Even though there were always a few options, they put out all the food on lots of small plates instead of lining everything up and everyone taking one of each. It was all spread out so everyone could share all the food.
We also got to have fresh prawns and fresh crab for dinner on the second night. For breakfast there was a lot of fresh rolls, eggs and a tapioca hot cereal. We would ask what everything was but the people that made it usually only knew it in Fijian. Everything was delicious, especially the dahl. That is going to be my next food challenge!
We also did a walk-around tour of Levuka which is the “old capital” of Fiji as it was where people first landed. To get there we took a covered truck which was lots of fun.
Last weekend, while in the village, I got to take part in many kava festivities. Fiji is known for their kava, but I had not heard of it until I started researching Fiji.
Kava is a plant, and when the root is dried, grinded and mixed with water it produces a drink (also called kava or called grog). Grog is drunk for many occasions including welcome and farewell ceremonies, celebrations or just in the evenings. They have one communal bowl, called the tanoa, and everyone drinks from bilos (cups made out of coconut shells usually) that everyone shares. To drink it you have to follow certain rituals involving clapping and saying certain words.
Depending on the strength and how much you drink, your mouth may go numb or a little tingly. Drinking grog is supposed to make you more relaxed. Everyone has been saying that it is better than alcohol because you don’t get a hangover! It is an anaesthetic and a sedative.
While we were in the village, we all drank kava when we performed our sevusevu. When you enter a Fijian village for the first time, it is the most polite to approach the chief of the village through a ceremony, present him with some kava and ask for permission to use the land (whether you’re visiting, volunteering, exploring, etc). He will say whether you are welcome or not welcome. Grog is drunk.
The first night we were there, a lot of us stayed up really late and drank kava with the villagers. The boys I were sitting with would ask me whether I wanted a bowl “low-tide”, “high-tide” or “TSUNAMI”. (One other thing is that you’re supposed to drink it all at once so tsumani bowls are bit overwhelming) It was fun chatting with them.
I woke up the second day with a horrible sore throat (was really nervous it was strep again but cheered the first time I sneezed) so I didn’t stay up all night and didn’t drink much kava. Pretty sure someone infected the grog. The locals said that drinking more kava would help my cold, haha. We had an early start on the day we were leaving (4:30AM) so some people stayed up all night and drank grog through the night. I went to bed around 12:00 and when I woke up the villagers were STILL DRINKING GROG!! Very hardcore.
If you stay at a resort, it’s possible that you can try grog or do a village tour where they can take you to a sevusevu. I tried it at Mango Bay with the FeeJee Experience group that was also staying in the dorms (a tour company for young adults).
On Monday morning, I met up with Sarah and Cindy (the other two SFU girls) and we made our way from the Coral Coast to Suva. We took a taxi from where they dropped us off and they brought us right to where we are staying on campus.
The first two days we spent touring the city and campus, meeting other international students and getting to know each other. The second day we were there was Cindy’s birthday, so we threw her a surprise jungle-themed party. We also spent a lot of time stocking up on things we needed (food, pans, etc) with our new roomies.
International Orientation was the Wednesday to Friday; that was when we met the other international students. Apparently there is over 17 countries showing. The three other international students on my floor are from the US and China. At the first day of orientation I met two other students who also climb! One of them actually brought his shoes and chalk over like me, so that was really neat. We’re hoping to get some climbing exploration done.. more info in a future blog post (spoiler: I actually already did some climby type stuff!)!
The International Office helped us with our visa applications and course registrations but they also organized some fun events. One of them was a welcome dinner which was basically an open bar and cupcake evening… just fill in the blanks ;-). We also went to the Fiji museum and went to the flea market to get sulus (basically 2m of fabric that you wear as a skirt).
One night all the International students went to “the” club/bar in the city that all the students go to called O’Reilly’s. That was a lot of fun.
I forgot to mention in my last post that the second night we were all at Mango Bay Resort, we met a professional balloon artist from Aussieland. He would one-up anything that you asked for or would make something awesome if you didn’t know what you wanted. I asked for a Wallace or Gromit, but he made me a Tazzy Devil instead (unfortunately no picture).
These are all pictures from my Brisbane-ian friend Elly.
The first two nights in Fiji I stayed at Mango Bay Beach Resort near Korolevu (south side of Fiji). It was great because I ended up in a dorm with eight other people my age (7 in a group on a Fiji vacation over their winter break and one person from the US who just finished an exchange term in Australia). They liked card games and really reminded me of friends back home (Van and Ottawa).
I flew out of Vancouver earlier today with my super heavy suitcase and am currently just about to board my MASSIVE DUAL-FLOOR PLANE to Nadi! I was feeling nervous earlier, and then it got better, and then a bit nervy right now. LAX IS MASSIVE and a bit stressful, but as soon as I got to the Air Pacific I was greeted with a huge “BULA!” from people in colourful shirts. Also because of the AP employee’s quick fingers I managed to get a window seat, score!
I will post again once I am settled. Not sure when that will be as this will be a busy week and I don’t know when I’ll have Internet access.