Bula!!! That is Hello in Fiji. Fiji time got to me. 1.5 month after my last blog entry and at the end of my Fiji experience, finally I found myself and a computer working at European time.
After a delay of a night (well spend for free in the Sheraton, I arrived in Fiji. Because of the dateline I Left on November 2 and arrived November 4. My birthday actually lasted only 12 hours!
OK then, here are some impressions of Fiji:
The Islands: Four big islands (like 100x100 km) and a zillion of small extremely tropical bounty FA white sandy beach cocktails, cliche, etc.etc.. The Blue Lagoon movies (see picture) and Castaway were made here. Also a number of Temptation island shows (with Rebecca Loos) were shot here. Electricity and water is scarce and internet/telephone unknown most of the time. Communication is by drums and shouting very loud.
diving and snorkeling: Among the best I did. Fiji is the soft coral capital of the world, but I came for the big stuff. And I got it: cruising for an hour with two manta rays, playing with sea snakes, an eagle ray and blacktip/white tip and grey reef sharks and as a highlight a bull shark approaching me at a few meters. Even small reef sharks a meter from shore in the shallow water. The last days we are trying to get to a place were hammerheads and manta's are almost guaranteed (without tying the poor animals up), but big waves prevent us from going there. It is actually of an $1000 per night island were Bill Gates spend his honeymoon and Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe had a secret get-together..
People: Incredibly nice. Goal in life is to be happy, make other people happy, cherish family relationships and have respect for each other. Money, status and achieving anything is irrelevant. Money means beer and kava (local drug, later more). Achieving something is disrespectful to others. So, Fiji time (i.e. European time +/- a random number of hours) is big here. People do not have watches and asking how long something will take is useless. I got invited many times to visit villages and peoples houses. The people life simple (but often with TV and DVD that work for a few hours per day on a generator) and with the whole family together. 50% of the people are local Fiji (typical south pacific island people with wide nodes and small curly hair, not so pretty girls!, not so active) and 50% Indians (prettier girls, more active). Tradition plays a big role. Villages have chiefs (like CEO's). When visiting a village you have to ask permission from the chief and sometimes you are welcomed with a kava ceremony. Also you bring unprocessed kava as a gift. Kava is a kind of leaf thing crushed and mized with water. It tasts like muddy water, but that is not important, village people sepnd the whole night sitting on the ground drinking kava and talking. Is is actually a medicine and makes your tong num,b and actually your whole body if you drink enough. Also as a former English colony, tea is big here, as well as rugby!
The coup: very peaceful nice little coup, but to most people unwanted. Tourism dropped 80% because visitors are pretty uninformed, but especcialy the embassies giving negative travel advices are pretty stupid. Walking in Rio or downtown Mexico City is much more dangerous. The capital is even saver than ever because robbers and pickpocket people are scared of the military.
Visitors: In the touristy places very young Australian and English school girls and in the not so touristy places no people! (especially after the coup, more about that later). Unfortunately also a lot of US citizens, but hey, they were able to found Fiji, so they can not be that bad. Then of course a lot of celebrities that stay on nice private islands for a few thousand per night.
Nature: beaches, beaches and more beaches, but also rainforest, great for hiking, which of course I did a lot and waterfalls. Some animals, not so many on land. Resorts: Great, 35 euro a night with all meals included, huts on the beach and sometimes even a swimming pool. Free crabs, touts (like frogs) and nice big spiders on your mosquito net and in bags included. Oh, I almost forgot that I also saw the endemic Kadavu Parrot (blue-red-green)!
A little bit funny: I lost a fin under a layer of a meter of pummus, vulcanic "stones", coming from an eruption in Tonga. A little bit less funny: We lost a guy on a hike (you see, I did do hiking). He was found 1.5 days later (still alive).
So, I have to say, Fiji ia great. Super relaxed, super nice people, great snorkeling and diving, a lot of different islands to visit and not so expensive. May be I will come back to play instructor next year...
Vinaka wakelewu and mothey (Thanx and see you)