17.10.2011 - 17.10.2011 30 °C
Another early start, the earliest yet as we had to be up at 6:30 am ready to grab breakfast and get on a long coach journey for a school and village visit. It was quite sad because we had to say goodbye to Sasha from the states as she was returning home. So we munched a few coissants, said our goodbyes and hopped on the bus. A couple of stops later (includung the capital Suava which was like being in Mumbai!) we arrived at the school.
It was a bit shocking at first as we pulled up to the school, which basically looked like a small shanty town with a large building in the middle.
We were introduced to 6 kids aged between 14-17 who were to show us around.
It was a boarding school which we found out was quite normal on Fiji as it saves the kids making 4 hour+ journeys just to get to school every morning. It costs the parents around 150 Fijian dollars a term and they have 3 terms a year. The kids seemed very happy and the dorms they lived in were better than some of the ones we had been in! (especially the one the night before with the annoying american kids who had wrecked the room and fell asleep drunk in some of our beds!)
It was good to see the kids so happy to be at school and they all said they wanted to be doctors and accountants. Shame english kids dont have that kind of ambition!
From the school it was a short drive to the villlage. We were greeted from the bus by our village guide who gave us flower necklaces and went through some village protocol (like always wearing your Sulu (sarong) and what would be the format for our visit. We had to chant a few words and then entered a large hall where the village chief was sat with the some village elders and the mothers of the village children.
They sang us a beautiful song before a very formal Kava ceremony. At a Kava ceremony you clap once and say BULA if you want a cup, then once youve drunk it they clap 3 times and say MUTHA. Very weird at first but actually quite good fun. After the ceremony and a gift offered to the chief was accepted we were considered welcomed to the village and no longer outsiders. We also had to shake hands with everyone in the room and introduce ourselves before being invited to a wonderful buffet that the mothers had cooked for us. It consisted of flat spicy pancakes, fruit, wrapped and deep fried local leaves and a coconut based type of custard which had the consistancy of snot and was very sweet but tasted a bit like charcoal!? Although i paint a bad picture the food was actually very tasty!
While we ate they chanted and sang songs for us, it sounded like an african choir and was very beautiful to listen to.
With our bellys stuffed we were then invited to leave the village hall for a while and try billy billy rafting down the village river. Billy Billy rafts are local rafts which are basically made from bamboo cane tied together in long strips.
When we got to the end of the river we played a game called cat and mouse whichwas an excuse for the locals to grope the foreigners I think!
All cool from the river we were taken back to the village for a tribal dance off. They got their best musicians to play and sing while we sat in a line and they came up and chose which one of us to dance with. It was a lot of fun (although bloody hot work!) and this continued for about 5 rounds until we were asked to go and choose our partners and show them our best moves.
After we were all knackered from the dancing it was time to say goodbye. They sang a traditional song which expressed their joy and celebration for the time we had spent together.
It was a very long drive to VOLLI VOLLI Beach Resort on the North east coast. A nice resort where we had a small 6 bed dorm just for our little group. We met up with Ben who was a crazy snowboard resort manager with dreads and a beard (he had perfected the homeless traveller look perfectly!) who was going to join us for the next day along with connor and kerry.
The offer of another KAVA ceremony was too much to take so it was an early night for us.