Let me start by saying that the chef has surely changed at this place since we were here last year. Fair enough - the beef in last night's beef Cajun salad (???)didn't come with free bone surprise, but there was plenty of chewy goodies in it!
Having lashed out 10 Fiji dollars on 5 dvds of the Game of Thrones series, I watched a couple of episodes in the evening. Great stuff - with plenty of familiar British faces.
Now to today's adventure. I had booked my mountain biking tour with Robert Rabotot online late last week. From his surname I thought he would be a local. He turned up right on time - as you might expect from a Swiss! He has had a wandering ife - flight attendant, scuba instructor, iron man competitor, and now runs Fiji's only real bike shop from his "base" up in the hills behind Nadi. The link to his site is : http://www.stingerbikes.com/Site/Mountain_Bike_Tours.html Here's Rob, about 3/4 of the way into the ride.
He had the bike and helmet all set up for me in no time, and once I had signed the liability waiver, we were on our way. Within about 5 minutes we were off the tar and onto the gravel, and the hand built "Stinger" mountain bike with it's front shocks and fat tyres made light work of it.
I wish I could explain where we went. It was basically a 30km loop that headed parallel with the Sleeping Giant, then north, and then after a short east west run, back south. We passed scores of locals who all said Bula - or the equivalent. Rod speaks a little Fijian, and always responded in kind. The roads were quiet except for the odd car, truck - or horse, usually with a Fijian cowboy on its back.
It took a bit of getting used to the bike.I missed my spd cleats and gloves - particularly on the uphill sections - of which there were plenty! Rob's bike had much lower granny gears than mine, which, together with his cleats, made the hills a bit easier for him. I have to confess that after about 2 hours of riding, there were a few hills that I walked. Still, there was the odd cooling off experience, like crossing the river:
Life in the back-blocks is very simple. Basic rectangular breeze block construction with louvre windows provides for shelter. Cows, goats and chickens (which looked like they might qualify for the cook pot at the Trans) added to the bucolic peace of the landscape - dominated by the ubiquitous sugar cane.
People seemed to be out for church (the Christians) or for social calls -both Hindus and Christians. At one stage, as we started ascending one of the many hills, in the middle of nowhere, I saw an immaculately dressed Indian woman, walking about 25 meters behind a couple of males - one of whom I guess was her husband. Here brown sari with gold trim looked to be straight out of Bollywood!
We had lunch at Stinger Base - fresh fruit and fruit juice. Just what I needed, particularly since the base is on the top of another hill! Rob lives in a single roomed building which serves as both workshop and living quarters. He says he wouldn't trade the lifestyle he has created for anything. Having spent 5 months in Sydney recently, his views have been confirmed. Rob has two dogs, one of which is named after a French chocolate biscuit - Chocolit - not sure of spelling - so maybe she is Oreo's cousin.
We got back to the hotel about 2, at which time I had a dip in the pool, washed my grubby clothes, and a well earned rest. Dinner tonight with the crew from UniFiji, and hard at work tomorrow, so I expect there will be less news!