On arrival in Fiji, I quickly changed my repetoire of moans from the 'I'm sooo freezin' variety to the 'Janey, I'm boilin' variety. We were greeted at the airport by a gang of singing Fijians. In fairness, they love their few songs and take every opportunity to hop out from behind a pillar or a bush with a banjo or a guitar and sing a welcome song, a farewell song, lunchtime song, going to the loo song and so on and so forth. I feel like my life has a soundtrack at last.
In Nadi (pronounced Nandy) it becomes quickly apparent that I will not be able to walk about or go for dinner by myself and that this is the dodgiest place I have been yet as a single female traveller. I run into town for a look around and I just do not have a good feeling, not least because I am approached by dozens of men at a time (nothin new there wha' wha') shouting 'Bula! Bula!' which I later find out means 'Hi' or 'welcome' (there are lots of Bula songs, yes). The conversation goes as follows
Him 'Bula, where you from?'
Me 'Eh, Ireland' (true)
Him 'What your name?'
Me 'Eh, Mary' (lie)
Him 'Beautiful, where you stay?'
Me 'Beachside' (lie)
Him 'When you leave Fiji?'
Me 'Tonight' (lie)
Him 'You want go for drink?'
Me 'Eh no thanks anyway'
Him 'You have email address?'
Me 'Eh no, I am between email addresses'
This is when they realise that I am a liar and feck off.
My gut feeling that walking around Nadi isn't a great idea is confirmed when I meet a guy back at the dorm who has had his face bashed in and 600 dollars stolen.
All in all, I am delighted to head the next day out to Octopus Resort which was recommended to me by Clive and Ron, who you may remember from such entries as 'Trekking and chilling in Chiang Mai' It is paradise. Amazing deserted beaches in 30 degree heat, with huge waves crashing from a navy blue ocean. It costs about 30 euro a night for cute and clean dorm accomodation on the beach with three meals included. There is no internet and it costs 10 dollars to call home for three minutes! I walk into the dorm and run into Darina and Natalie, whom I shared a dorm with in Sydney. Such a small world, for serious!
The first night I was at Octopus, we were greeted with a welcoming ceremony. They sang lots of songs and we plonked ourselves down on a rug to taste some Kava, which is a drink made from water and em clay I think. It tastes to me a little like cold tea and is nice enough, although a girl in the hostel swears it tastes like dishwater and she may have a point.
I booked in to go line fishing and only realised when we were out in the boat in the ocean that we will probably be killing some fish... I know it is obvious, but I never made the connection really. We caught only two weeny ones though and there was no bashing them on the head or anything.
I also did another scuba dive and this time learned some of the skills and how to use the equipment. It was just me and the instructor which was really good. I learnt all the hand signals and intend to apply them to everyday life asap. I was quite confident with the diving and breathing under water this time, but I just realised the problem I have is that I am a crap swimmer these days and just sort of flail about in the flipper things, not getting anywhere fast.
The coral reef is not nearly as impressive as Australia, probably due to the amount of people standing on it and thus killing thousands of years of growth in an instant. Keith, a holiday maker (who is big into diving) I met from Coolock, appoints himself as guardian of the coral reef and scans the coastline on Reef Watch, narkily shouting every now and then 'You're killing the reef, ye muppah!'.
I also threw a bit of a fit while on the island, hopping along the beach, shouting the possibly-never-uttered-before words 'Get away from me with your mousy tongue'. This was to the resort dog who decided to give my legs a good oul lick after being spotted only minutes before with a dead mouse swinging from his gob!
Most of the people I met at Octopus were excellent and cool, except there was this really pompous english guy. We were talking about rugby and especially the World Cup last night with some Kiwis when he says tentatively
'It always makes me laugh when people say that England wouldn't have won the rugby world cup without Johnny Wilkinson'.
One look at him would tell you that that clearly didn't make him laugh at all and that he had practised saying that sentence in the mirror. He is asking for trouble; we all plough in with 'But isn't that an accepted fact?' and 'Did they score any tries at all?'. He was only raging and when I saw him at lunchtime today, he still had a face on him like a cat's bum and wasn't talking to me.
A real highlight of Fiji was having breakfast one morning when one of the Welsh guys said 'What's that over there?'. We all turned to see a massive whale in the distance jump and breach the water three or four times. It is a one in a million chance of seeing a whale in that part of the tropics and he seemed to be giving us a performance to make up for the one dull day. It was just incredible and we all felt really lucky and special!