Lola & Toni in the Tonga


Fiji Part 2
February 10, 2009, 1:37 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Amazing how long it takes us to get blog posts up. Well I feel we need to finish writing about Fiji before we move on to more current events that are shaping our lives.  After spending two nights outside of Rakiraki, we had some planning to do and had left a couple days open for anything.  I was really hoping to go to the island Ovalau where the original British government had been established.  It is supposed to be quite historic, beautiful, quiet, and very inexpensive to stay.  The harbor to get to the island was way off the beaten track, but was easily doable by bus, we just had to find out what the boat schedule was like.  After living in Tonga for almost a year and a half, you never really know what is going on with the boats and if you can rely on them to be at a certain place at a certain time.  In fact, sometimes there isn’t a boat to be found due to repairs, rough seas, etc…  So, we finally got a phone book and started calling hotels on the island, as well as the shipping line that sent boats there.  We finally got a hold of someone at a hotel who proceeded to tell us that it was Boxing Day and the boat wouldn’t be running, but would the next day…maybe.    Boxing Day!!!  I forgot that was even a holiday (Sorry Alan and Kathleen and our peaceful neighbors to the North).  Well, that left us with only one night to go there, and with the knowledge that the boat may not be back to a regular schedule, we started looking elsewhere.

There was an island right off the North coast Nananu I Ra that we had researched prior to arriving in Fiji.  It had several lodges on it, and after calling alost all of them, we finally reached the Safari Lodge.   After inquiring about the rates, and thinking they were a little high for us, we finally asked them if they gave a Peace Corps discount.  This becomes regular practice when you are a poor volunteer, and low and behold, they gave us a huge discount.  Off to the wharf we went.  After a short and beautiful boat ride with our trusty captain and who was soon to become our Fiji guide for the next couple of days, we arrived.

Trusty Guide - Harold

Trusty Guide - Harold

We decided to give this place a try for one night and if we liked it, we could stay two.  When we arrived at the island, we realized hardly anyone was staying at the lodge.  After hiking up a very steep track with switchbacks, we arrived at our destination.  The view was breathtaking, and we had the place to ourselves.  We instantly proceeded to inform them that we would be there for two nights.  After the pushiness and all the tourists in Nadi, we had all the peace we could want.  We also had a full kitchen, a huge deck with bar-b-q and a nice little double room.

The view from Safari Lodge

The view from Safari Lodge

The Safari Lodge was known as a surfing lodge, specifically a wind surfing lodge.  They had tons of kite boards and wind surfing boards  for use.  Although we didn’t take advantage of this because we were too busy being lazy and enjoying our privacy, it was a nice addition to the lodge.   Well, the two nights we stayed at Safari were wonderful to say the least.  We could even see the beautiful view while we were taking a shower.   The only problem was that the generator for the lodge was turned off around 10 pm and that meant the fan in our room stopped.  Otherwise it was great.

The next day, we were off to meet back up with Karen and Scot in Pacific Harbor on the South side of the island to go river rafting on the upper Navua river.   The bus ride from Rakiraki to Suva was supposed to be quite the bumpy and possibly long ride, but we were looking forward to it.  Getting the bus schedule in Fiji on this occasion was much like finding out the boat schedule in Tonga.  We were taken to the bus stop a little earlier than the bus was supposed to arrive and ending up  waiting about an hour an a half.  Fortunate for us we had entertainment.  Across the street we noticed some people with a goat out in their yard.  We were curious what they were doing and speculated that they may be selling it or going to eat it.  Sure enough, a big knife came out and after a couple cuts and a big chop, goat curry!!!  Surprisingly enough, Lara seemed to crave goat curry after this incident.

The bus ride to Suva was beautiful and seemed to be going quite quickly.  We didn’t understand what everyone had been talking about the road until we had gone about half way.   Instantly the road turned to a bumpy, muddy mess.  It beat my spine and bounced my bladder around until I thought I wouldn’t be able to last the whole ride.  The road crossed over rivers every so often, and the bridges were made of wood with no sides and very questionable looking.  The good thing was that this ride was very beautiful as well.  It was incredibly tropical, like the windward side of Hawaii, and we passed through many cute little villages.  It seemed a different world than that of busy Nadi and Lautoka.  Surprisingly enough, the road was bad for only the middle third, and from what I gathered, we made pretty good time.

On the road to Suva

On the road to Suva

We arrived in Pacific Harbor unscathed and rested until the next morning early when we were to meet Scot and Karen for our rafting trip.  I seem to ramble on about so many silly things when I blog that I don’t want to make this into a three part series, so I will try to be more brief.  Needless to say, the rafting trip was one of the highlights of the trip.  We have such a good time with S&K and the trip was incredible.  There were some good rapids, tons of waterfalls that we went right under, and a good chunk of river where we all jumped in and just floated.  Our guide was a Fijian guy from the local village who told stories the whole trip.  He gave us some good info about the Fijian way of life, and we discussed the differences between his culture and the Tongan culture.

Wet and happy after rafting

Wet and happy after rafting

After a rafting, it was back on the road to Korotogo to meet up with our great friends Jarl and Nechele who were coming from the states to meet us.  Seemed like we were moving non-stop now, but were incredibly excited to see Nechele and Jarl.  They were staying at the luxurious Outrigger hotel which was out of our price range, so we ended staying at a place a few blocks away that S & K had recommended.  Although it was no Outrigger, it was a great little place, and somewhere we could unpack and settle into for the next five nights.

You know when you haven’t seen someone in quite a while, but when you do, it is like it was just yesterday.  That was how meeting up with J & N was.  They are such good friends, that we were able to fall right back into the place we had left it at.  Of course we all had stories to tell of what had happened in the last year and a half, but good friends are always good friends.  We had a great time with them.  We took them to the local market to show them how we shop and to some local Indian restaurants to try out the local cuisine.  It was a little bit like giving them a little view on how we live in Tonga.  Except there is so much more to offer in Fiji.

A happy reunion

A happy reunion

We went fishing on New Year’s Eve day, and what an incredible day it was.  The water was like a lake, and the weather was incredible, or it started that way.  Immediately out, we came across a pod of Pilot whales, and then proceeded to see flying fish and all sorts of marine life.  It seemed to be teaming with life, and that was only the start.  I don’t think I have ever been on a fishing charter as good as this one in my life.  The captain and the first mate really knew there stuff.  We trolled for big yellow fin, with no luck, and then we spotted them.  There were huge schools of skip jack tuna, and we headed straight for them.  It was amazing at how many where in the water, and how quick they could change direction and be gone.  Every time we went through the school, both poles we had in hooked a fish.  It was great fishing as we were now fishing with light tackle.  After catching our fill of skip jack, they took us bottom fishing.  Of course we had to jump in the water to cool off first, which later we would think was crazy.  As soon as we started fishing, the captain starting talking about shark and how there was a big one down there.  Needless to say, we lost many hook ups to something incredibly large, and Lara and Nechele even caught two smaller sharks.  This is all within feet of where we jumped into the water to swim.   After the shark scenario, we took off to fish right off the reef for trevally.  Now I have to say this was probably my most notable fishing ever.  I hooked a giant trevally about 35lbs on light gear.  It took me about 15 minutes to get it in and was just amazing.

Look at the size of this fish!

Look at the size of this fish!

New Year’s we had a great dinner with Jarl and Nechele at their hotel, but everyone was so wiped from fishing, that no one felt in the mood to celebrate, even though wine and beer were free with the buffet.  Oh well, it was a great day with great friends.   After our five days of hanging with J & N by their pool, by our pool, by their fale, we were off to Nadi for our last two nights.  Yeah, I am almost done with this story.  It was sad to leave our friends, but we were so incredibly grateful that they chose to fly all the way and share that time with us.  Thanks Nechele and Jarl!!!

So, back on the bus.  We had chosen to stay at a nice place the last couple of nights.    The Vale Ni Tadra or “House of Dreams” was our destination.  It was a homestay, something we had yet to experience in our travels.  It is staying in someone’s luxury home and enjoying all the ammeneties of a house with none of the hotel feel.  It was a beautiful house with a beautiful pool and nice lanais where you could just kick back and relax.  The owner would cook dinner every night, and if you wanted to eat, you just had to let her know.  We were very happy with our selection.  The first night we went into Fiji to meet up with Scot and Karen and also to meet a couple other volunteers who were in Fiji.  We had a lovely Indian dinner, and then went to a couple of terrible clubs.   At least that is what Scot and I thought.  Places you couldn’t hear yourself think, let alone have a conversation.  Anyway, it was a good night, and we were hoping to come back to Suva the next day to stock up on some stuff to bring back to Tonga with us.  The next day came, and we couldn’t pull our selves away from the side of the pool.  We just relaxed by the pool, had some cold drinks, and finished the day off with an amazing crab curry and some great company.  Next day it was back to Tonga.  Ok, I think I am finished finally, I hope you have enough patience to get this far in the post.  Next post will hopefully feature more current information.  Bula!!!!