Bula from Fiji!
“Bula” is the greeting here, and I am shocked at how many times I have heard it. At first I thought it was going to be a touristy-type thing. But then, I was received with a bula and a big Fiji smile EVERYwhere. It’s amazing. The people could not be nicer.
The trip is officially off and running and it seems surreal. Flying out without a plan to return freeing and terrifying at the same time. The 11.5 hour (!) flight from LA to Fiji was actually, really nice. But the 5:30 am arrival meant that it was a real bummer I couldn’t check into my hostel straight away. At least they held my bags and I went for a nap on the beach.
Fiji is so beautiful and I only scratched the surface. There are about 300 islands to choose from, 100 of which are inhabited, and I stayed on the main one. But, I still spent time on the beach (a GREAT way to counter jet lag), went kayaking, explored the small town, saw the beautiful main Hindu temple, went to hot springs and caked myself in healing mud, and spent some time in a few cava ceremonies.
First, a note on the Hindu temple, which I was first surprised to see. Fiji actually has almost 40% Indian population, as a result of the British bringing Indians over as indentured labor for sugar cane farms in the 19th century. The clash between the Indian and Fijian cultures is an ongoing issue, resulting in several military coups since Fiji gained independence, even so recently as 2007.
The hot springs trip was incredible. I went with a few people from the hostel and it’s a small thermal area in the mountain/rainforest area known as the Sleeping Giants (they look like the silhouettes of, you guessed it…). We were caked in mud, then went to a cleansing bath, and enjoyed the afternoon in a mud-free bath.
Cava is a traditional ceremony in which people gather around, drinking a mixture made from cava root. It is not an alcohol or drug, but does have a calming effect, and numbs your mouth a bit. Also, it tastes like you’re eating a tree. But it’s a happy, communal time, for relaxation, and in our case, filled with music.
Now it’s on to Sydney, where I will meet up with two Aussie girls I met in Colombia last year.