Deep Blue Skies and wall to wall sunshine with the temperature already at 28c greeted us this morning as we walked to breakfast. Despite my hopes that I had beaten the jet lag in one go I had been wide awake since well before 5am and was by now very ready for some food.
As before we took a table by the open windows and as usual had to keep shooing away the birds who were looking for any scraps left behind. This morning we didn’t hang around as we had booked the taxi driver who had driven us from the airport to pick us up at 9am for a tour of our own making. In using him I calculated we could go exactly where we wanted for under half the price of an organised tour. That is if he turned up.
He did at exactly the arranged time. He was slightly confused as to where we wanted to go and didn’t really understand that we were not interested in seeing the temple or visiting either the produce or craft markets where tourists normally go. Instead, we asked to go to the official Fiji Cultural Village. He misunderstood and we stopped not far from the Resort at what he called the ‘first’village. I’m not sure what it was but we didn’t get out of the car and asked him to drive on. I showed him on a map where we wanted to go but I was still not sure he understood.
He did recognise that we wanted to go to ‘The Gardens of the Sleeping Giant’ which was not far away. I’m glad I was tracking our position as the road to it was down an unsignposted unmade track for 3km and Karen looked worried until I reassured her.
The gardens are so called due to the mountains above them due (if you squint) look like a giant laying down. I think we were the first visitors of the day. The entrance cost was $25 Fiji dollars each. We were just pointed down a path and told it was a loop. It was a loop however there seem to be many paths off of it which was confusing. Much of it was on boardwalk which is not great in a tropical jungle rainforest area. Many boards were rotten or loose or slippery. Added to that the fact it was on the side of the mountain meant Karen found the walk difficult at times. The plants and trees were very green and lush. We are glad we went but it was no different to other tropical gardens we have visited around the world. A nice touch though was the iced long tropical juice drink that was waiting for us when we got back to the entrance.
Our driver had found the directions to the Fiji Cultural Village and so off we set for the 30-minute drive. This was down another unmade track as well when we got there. For a supposed Government official Cultural centre, it was not well signed and obviously not well known amongst the locals. Again, we were the only day visitors as apparently, they mainly host dinners in the evening.
The entrance cost was not on display and they seemed to make up the cost of $30 each. I paid on my curve card. The confirmation came through on my watch but the lady taking the money said it hadn’t gone through and wanted to do it again. I refused and so we had a stand-off for about 10 minutes. I showed her and the other staff she fetched that it had gone through and the confirmation I had received on my watch and phone. I was very patient and polite but firm that I wouldn’t allow them to do it again. Eventually the manager was summoned who after a while just let us in. I did have some sympathy for them as their machine did say ‘declined’ but my card was clearly charged and I wasn’t prepared to pay twice.
After that we were given a personal tour of the 4 Fijian buildings that had been reconstructed. It was fascinating to hear the cannibalism that was rife until the British missionaries arrived. Apparently, it was an honour to be offered up as a sacrifice although they did have a habit of eating the brains of anyone killed in battle as well.
We went into a Chief’s hut which had many rules and regulations. We learnt that when the Chief died his wife had to be buried with him. She had the choice of either being clubbed to death or burnt alive on the very same day. And wives of today complain they have it bad.
Then we were treated to a lad trying to start a fire by rubbing wood together. He failed to get it going and so the guide took over and did it successfully. Apparently, any dried wood would work providing the wood being rubbed is from the same source.
Back at the entrance I was a bit concerned that our driver was not there but he turned up by the time we were ready to leave having been to do some chores whilst he waited.
He again suggested taking us to some markets but we again declined as we have no room to buy anything and do not want to be carrying it around with us for another month. Instead, we asked him to take us to a beach that locals use. It was not great and from the smell may have been close to some outlet.
Then after he had found an ATM so I could get cash to pay him he drove us back to the resort. We asked him to drop us at the marina next door where we had some cold drinks with toasties outside for lunch. It again was all rather lovely. I noted that the server here again had front teeth missing.
After yet another cuppa on our porch we went into the pool which was rather good as well. We were back on the porch when the predicted afternoon rain shower came dead on the dot at 5pm. It lasted about a hour and was quite refreshing.
At 7pm we made our way to the restaurant and grabbed an outside table. I had a Caesar Salad again whilst Karen went for a Club Sandwich. These were both just about OK.
The entertainment tonight was billed as ‘The Male Staff Warrior Dance’. It was different but far better than the 3-man guitar group who were playing in between as they had every other night. When they played traditional Fijian, it was almost acceptable. When they tried to play Western music, they just murdered every track. Indeed, it wasn’t until nearly the end of each track before we picked up what it was supposed to be.
The Warrior Dancers wearing grass skirts started with lots of shouting. Initially I thought it was just like boy band dance moves but when they explained some of the dances beforehand it made more sense. They weren’t bad. For their finale they had everyone who was in the restaurant (we were just outside) on their feet and joining in. It ended with everyone in a large circle and them making different people do their own moves which the whole room had to follow. It was amusing but probably went on too long.
By now I was hitting the jet lag wall again and so we went back and made a hot drink before retiring for the night. It had been another day for you and me in paradise.