Our flight for Fiji left Samoa at 1:45 on Friday afternoon, winging its way south for an hour and forty five minutes before arriving at Nadi International Airport on the west coast of Fiji’s main island Viti Levu. All incoming passengers are required to fill in a customs and immigration form; I ticked the “no” boxes all the way down and then worried about whether I was actually allowed to bring in the one shell I’d kept from my collection on Samoa, especially when I saw that all the luggage was being put through a “bio-hazard security” scanner. However, my bags did pass unremarked through this screening and we emerged into the arrivals lounge without incident.
In the instructions from the Beachouse we were told to wait at the coffee shop outside Departures for the Suva big bus which would whisk us down the coast to our next temporary home. After waiting perhaps an hour, along came a large bus that was already pretty packed. With our luggage stowed down below, we hopped on and headed off quickly down the road. The bus, although seeming not all that old, wasn’t in great shape – as he sped along the highway, the driver kept grinding the gears and I was wondering whether we’d be left on the side of the highway after one particularly nasty grinding. Since that night was the Fiji-South Africa World Cup rugby game, the driver was obviously in a screaming hurry to get home for the match, passing car after car as we careened along the south coast towards the capital Suva. Thankfully, after a two and a half hour ride we were deposited at the entrance to the Beachouse without incident.
While on the bus, we realised that, having crossed the international dateline, we were actually a day late for our reservation and hoped that there’d still be room at the inn for us. After our apparent no-show, they had given away our garden room but did have a room in one of the less nice blocks near the reception. This we took for the one night and then moved to our present location, Garden 8, a large airy room with bathroom (including hot shower) attached, open to the elements. Dinner, with a choice of three meals, is served around seven, with pool, ping-pong and drinks thereafter.
The Beachouse, an eight acre beachfront property, is still relatively new but already feeling the effects of the tropical climate, becoming a bit ragged around the edges. The common areas are spacious and include a bar/pool room, expansive seating/dining areas, a pool, a ping-pong table, several hammock/swings along the beachfront and a huge swing. When we first arrived most of the people staying here seemed to be in their twenties, mostly from Australia and New Zealand, with a couple from England, the US and Canada. The place had the feel of a university student union building and I felt somewhat old for the crowd (about 30 years too old); now, though, four days later, the mix has changed with the arrival of an American woman, Veronica, from Florida, and a Swiss family with two children, Sabine, Norman, Julia and Till, who are lovely. Among the inhabitants here are three generations of lab dogs, two Australian men who came for the surfing and haven’t left, and many very cheeky mynah birds whose very loud chattering wakes us in the morning.
The weather has been a bit disappointing; although it’s not cold, it’s been overcast and a bit rainy since we arrived with no real change in sight. Right at the moment the sun is trying to come out so we are hopeful that a sunny day might be in store. Yesterday, Ty and I took the bus into Sigatoka, the only real town in this area, about 40 minutes west along the coast.
We checked out the local market and the retail shops; Ty was on the hunt for a new bandana which he finally found in a fabric shop on the edge of the small downtown area. The market was cool; heaps of fresh fruit and veggies for sale, as well as the makings of the local drink, kava, a root-like plant dried and pressed into interesting peak-like formations.
We had an excellent curry for lunch in the Raj Curry House (although it was very expensive) and then headed back the ranch. So far, we’ve explored the beach, with a young local boy showing us the holes which the land crabs make when they emerge at night, played several games of pool and one of volleyball. Two nights ago, armed with our night vision head lamps, we tried to check out the land crab situation but couldn’t find any. The shell situation, though, is much better here than in Samoa; there are many more intact shells here and I have collected several so far.
See more pictures here.