More of our Adventurious Fijian Holiday.
Now we had thought the roads before were bad… haha …. These were in a class of there own, the poor van struggled in first gear all the way as Erle fought to keep it on the rocky rutted kind of road, thank goodness he was driving not me! Parts of the road were also under water just to make it even less pleasant, these pools could be any depth! There were wild goats everywhere dashing off the road as we were right in the wild interior of the island where hardly any one ever goes, though we did pass one four wheel drive vehicle on the way. Scenery was spectacular in parts we could see over almost the whole island. From the top of Mt Vistoria.
Finally we came to the village, the last part of the road was by far the steepest, as we slithered down, Erle really wondered whether it would be possible to climb back out, especially if it rained again, Jonathan said there were enough strong men in the village to push us out if need be!
In the distance I could see a beautiful waterfall tumbling down the mountainside but we had no time to visit it, the Headman of the village came and shook our hands in welcome, then almost the entire population lined up to shake our hands and kiss them! They also bowed to us – like we were Royalty! Part of the line of neat village houses. and the Church.
Name of the village is Nakoroboya; it contains about 30 corrugated iron, and wooden houses and several bura’s of different sizes made of reeds in the traditional way. The whole layout of the village is neat and orderly everything is very tidy, there is a Catholic Church in the centre of the village and the school is just over a rushing mountain stream to one side, the gardens well tended and the people appeared to be healthy and well besides happy and content.
There are no roads in the village, as no one owns a vehicle, however every man owns a horse to travel on, that’s why, the roads are so bad. We had to take off our shoes and paddle across a small stream past the village Catholic Church, then a quite fast flowing river to get to the village school we had come to visit. Village men had to assist us over these rivers or we would have been swimming! Poor Jonathan all loaded up as we walk passed the Catholic Church.
Jonathan carried all our gifts for us plus a lot more that he was also giving the children; he was weighed down like a packhorse!
The male teacher greeted us and ordered the children to assembly for us to inspect. All the boisterous eager kids were in front keen to show-off, just like kids worldwide, but I looked beyond them to the big eyed shy ones, and went all around picking them out to chat to, later the teacher said how did I managed to speak to all the shyest children in the school, but as a wee kid I was one of the shy ones so I easily recognized the shyness and longing to be noticed in their eyes. Teacher also said we were the first white people to visit the school beside of a missionary man. He was over whelmed with all the books pens pencils and musical instruments we had brought from New Zealand especially for his school children. There are actually 3 teachers for the 72 children of all ages, but two of the teachers had to attend a funeral that day, one of them was the music teacher who would get a great surprise when she returned and found she now had several flutes and other things to make a little band.
It was Fiji National Children’s Day apparently, we had no idea of this, and the teacher said God must have brought us especially on that day with so many gifts for the children. Jonathan brought along soft drinks and little buns for each child. Venarca (Thank you in Fijian) was said many, many times; it hadn’t cost us much but brought such joy to them all. We signed the visitor’s book looked at one of the three classrooms with its little wooden desks like there were when I first started school as a wee girl so long ago. The whole school was made of plaited bamboo with an iron roof; it was all designed and partly built by Jonathan nearly 2 years ago. A more solid concrete block building has been started to make a permanent school in time. I could have spent much more time here but we were worried about the threat of rain and the need to be out of the mountain roads by darkness.
We were then hurried back across the river, to the Headman’s large home to be initiated into the village! One of the smaller bures with the owner outside.
Normally women would not be allowed at the special ceremony, but Jonathan said I was special and would also be initiated into the village. When we entered the big house, without our shoes, it was to find that all the men of the village assembled sitting cross legged on the coconut matting, there were two soft pillows at the head of them for us to relax on – Jonathan also had to sit cross legged on the floor beside us. I was a trifle nervous about the ceremony not knowing what to expect – blood letting, a challenge like the Maoris do, singing or dancing, or what?
Very simple really it was just a much longer Kava ceremony; lots of prayers all in Fijian with our names mentioned frequently, many of the men spoke including Jonathan. As I sat there my mind drifted, several thoughts came to me; firstly, I became aware that ‘all things do work together for good’ we were definitely meant to have arrived in the village today and not yesterday as would have happened had Jonathan met us at the airport, I was becoming impressed by Jonathan’s Mana – the prestige and esteem he was held in by all these men, I worried about the fact that while I was enjoying myself, poor Erle was not, he was driving to the very edge of his ability for hours each day with more to come, would I end up being the proud owner of the van if Erle had a momentary lapse of concentration, as I heard the first rain drops on the roof, would we even be able to drive out of the village, also the fact that I had not taken a single photo of the village School we had come so far to visit! My first cup of Kava about to be handed to me. Note the rope pointing to me.
Finally it was Kava drinking time, Erle first, me second, Jonathan third, followed by every one of the men, had a half coconut shell full before it was time to have another round. I took the time to whisper to Jonathan my lack of photos and he said he would go all the way back across the river for me to get me a good photo, and he did.
Nakoroboya School with the Teacher and all the pupils
When the next round of Kava drinking was over and the headman had made another batch of Kava for further rounds, the speeches told us that we could now say Nakoroboya was our village, we were full members, anything we wished to do, we could, we could return and be welcome any time in the future. Now it was Erle’s turn to make a speech, he had been warned a speech would be called for so fortunately some thought had gone into what he was going to say, so Erle made a great speech that brought forth a noisy round of venarca’s, hand claps and cheers.
To test the ‘we could do anything words’ I said I would like to go inside the biggest bure in the village! A young girl was called in to take me, she took me in through the special door for ladies and we sat on the floor with a bunch of toddlers who joined us, and told me how this biggest bure (reed covered roof house, rather like a small hall, with vast tree trunks as beams to hold it all up, some of which were carved a little) had been built and what some of the parts meant, sorry I forget all these things as I was playing with the sweet wee kids.
I also mentioned the pigs the village owned and almost got taken to visit them too! Erle stayed and enjoyed the company of all the men.
The men of the village intended to present us with a bucket full of prawns to take back for our evening meal but the river was too flooded and dirty for them to catch any so we were presented with a big bag of large easy peel mandarins oranges, much better for us really as they lasted us for the whole time of our trip and we were very grateful for them often.
After a nice cup of tea without milk, because none of their cows or goats was in-milk, and thick slices of delicious native bread, we knew we just must leave as the rain was now really falling hard. After much hand shaking and hugs and kind words we made our goodbyes.
It took two of the strong men pushing and all the power of the van to inch our way up the steepest part of the road out, but after that Erle managed the drive back to Jonathan’s home without incident, where Mama was waiting to cook the prawns for dinner!
She rose to the challenge of what to have for dinner without prawns, we had cooked breadfruit, cassava, taro and taro leaves the she had rolled up with tiny pieces of fish inside and then cooked in coconut milk, these were so nice I could have eaten the whole pot full! Also there was an interesting noodle dish with small chunks of chicken in, masses of great ethnic food, which we had special coffee after and some strawberry cream biscuits that I had brought from home in case we couldn’t eat the food, the children especially enjoyed these sweet treats (don’t think biscuits figure much in their diet).
When Jonathan and his brothers suggested we could all go back to the village tomorrow to watch a football match, Erle took all of half a second to decide that regretfully we must return tomorrow, the very thought of driving back again was too much. Not the drive so much but the possibility of damaging the van and having to buy the thing, Erle recons our use of this van must of taken ten years of its life!