After spending some time in Nadi and Savu Savu, we continued to explore Fiji. Taking off in another tiny plane, we island hopped first to Taveuni, then over to Suva. The Savu Savu airport was manned by one single worker, who waved away my passport in complete disinterest when I took it out to show him instinctually. In fact, he wasn’t concerned with identification at all—my first name was good enough for him. He only wanted to know my weight—since the plane was so small that the weight of everything on board mattered—and I had to step right up on the scale. There was no x-ray scanner, no metal detector, and no security or bag checks for the passengers. What an entirely different world!
A storm was moving in so our flight took off early. The views of the islands were stellar with huge expanses of bright turquoise shimmering where the water was shallow. The sun was setting and all the fluffy clouds were lit with the golden dust of twilight. The little islands below were just tiny specs of green and turquoise in an expanse of ultramarine.
Once in Suva, the biggest city in Fiji, we hailed a cab to take us to the Coral Coast. As we took off, the driver told us he needed to do a car change. He drove us into a residential neighborhood at the outskirts of town as the sun was going down. Anywhere else, this would signify a definite problem. But remembering that this was Fiji, I tried not to assume the worst and gave him the benefit of the doubt. We pulled into a driveway and a pregnant woman (who turned out to be our driver’s wife) waved down at us from an upstairs balcony. There was another smaller black cab in the driveway. We changed cars just like he said, and continued on our way. Only in Fiji.
By now the sun was down and we we drove though the bustling city of Suva, passing eateries and market stalls, and streets filled with people. The atmosphere was so opposite the quiet island of Savu Savu. We finally arrived at our destination: the Pearl Resort. There was a meke show and lovo feast in full swing, which featured traditional dancing accompanied by a banquet of traditional Fijian foods cooked in an underground oven. Melodic dancing was performed by a group of ladies wearing grass skirts and ornate head dresses filled with bouncing flowers strung on the ends of sticks. Then there was a loud shout from behind that made me jump, and a group of bare-chested Fijian warriors in dried straw skirts marched in, full of raw energy. They had leaves in their hair and carried poles with balls of grass on the top, which they thrust into the ground with a distinct rhythm.
The feast continued afterwards, featuring slow cooked meats and fishes, Indian curry and traditional seaweed salads that consisted of different types of sea kelp, which I instantly recognized from Fiji’s underwater wonderland, all marinated in coconut milk.
After dinner we wandered down to the beach to find hundreds of giant crabs scurrying all over the sand, zipping in and out of the sea in unbelievably quick sweeps. I’ve never seen so many crabs in once place!
Stay tuned for more adventures as we travel into the heart of Fiji to experience a traditional Kava Ceremony. Click here if you missed our adventures in Savu Savu or to check out our Fijian Culture Guide.