Our Adventurous Fijian Holiday.
The adventure of getting there.
Our good friend Jonathan, ( my meeting with Jonathan is in a previous blog, taxi tales, ) invited us to Fiji to stay with his family and in his village, which is in a very remote part of the interior of Fiji, where white tourists just do not go. We knew this was going to be an adventure, but didn’t know just how much of an adventure! Just getting there was an adventure!
Our Fijian friend Jonathan.
Before we left New Zealand, Erle had an accident and tore the calf muscle very badly, so three weeks before we were to leave, Erle was on crutches going to physio each day and generally in a lot of pain, by time to depart he was able to walk for short strolls and it was improving every day.
When we paid for our airfares it was discovered that my Passport, while not being out of date, would in fact not have the require 6 months validity left by the time we came home, so I had to get a new Passport under urgency at double the usual price; thankfully it arrived a week ahead of our departure. Porsche.
Porsche our lovely Silver Blue Burmese cat developed a strange rash on her tummy that the Vet couldn’t identify, he thought maybe she was allergic to something she was sleeping on outdoors, and gave us ointment to be rubbed on twice a day. Fortunately this rash vanished just in time for her to be allowed to go to the Cattery, just where she would have gone otherwise I couldn’t imagine, but some kind of quarantine somewhere I guess.
Packing our suitcases was a bit of a problem too, as we were taking so very much in the way of books, musical instruments, pens, gifts and a whole suitcase of clothes for the village people. There was more than 30kg of goods just for Jonathan and his family, so we were not able to take a great deal for our own use, in fact we have never travelled so lightly ever before; just the bare basic necessities of clothes and toiletries. First time ever we have used our full 40kgs aeroplane allowance.
We had booked our air travel; air fares only, no transfers or accommodations, first time we have ever done that either! But Jonathan had told us many times he would be there to meet us at the airport, and take us to his home, where we planned to stay about 3 – 4 days, after which we would just go any place that took our fancy, within the tourist circuit.
Our flight to Fiji was uneventful and enjoyable, not too long, just about 3 hours.
When we got through Customs we walked happily, out to meet Jonathan, But we couldn’t find him anywhere, so we waited patiently an hour for him, thinking maybe he had broken down on the long 3 hour journey from his home to the airport, but still no sign of our friend! Time was now 11pm.
We went over to the Help Desk to check if any message might have been sent for us, but sadly no messages! Next we visited the tour desk and booked into anywhere they could find close by. The Capricorn International Resort had room for us for $130 a night, but we took it as we could hardly camp in the terminal for the night. There were masses of beautiful tropical flowers in the gardens. Red Hibiscus.
After settling in, we became aware of the predicament we were in; we didn’t even know Jonathans real name, sure we knew he was really Iosepha but there are two more long Fijian names after, that we can’t say at all and didn’t even have written down with us. Nor did we have his full address just that it was inland from Vatukoula, what we did have was a mobile phone number for his family, but we couldn’t phone him at such a late hour, so resolved to wait for morning to try and contact him. We were actually sure we had no chance at all of finding him and giving him all the heavy goods we had dragged around with us, we fore saw our holiday weighing heavily all the way. Sleep disserted us for the night, we tossed and turned and worried til the morning.
A nice breakfast helped us feel a little better, a visit to the Resorts tour desk also helped, the lady would phone the family for us and speak in Fijian, if we just bought a Fiji phone card. Amazingly, it was Jonathan that answered, so I was able to talk to him myself. Apparently he had mixed up what day we were to arrive and was expecting us that night, he said he would try to get to the hotel by 3pm if we would just wait there. The hotel agreed to allow us a slightly later checkout so we could have a swim in their pool while we waited, then we could sit in the foyer and quietly read, very good of them. But at 3pm a phone call from Jonathan told us he had run into problems and was just going to leave home then so it would be at least 6pm before he arrived! The hotel staff looked rather long suffering on hearing that but said ok we were no trouble. Buying a couple of drinks and snacks helped sooth them even more. At 6.30pm I had to phone again to ask just where he was! Finally he arrived at about 7pm in the pitch dark, by Taxi! So at that time of night we had to go about hiring a rental vehicle – not a car, Jonathan said, the roads are ‘not very good’ (an understatement if I ever heard one) so we hired a van with big wheels at enormous expense we thought, but that was ok, what was not,’ ok’, was that the hire company demanded that my VISA card (which did come with us on our trip this time, unlike our trip to Langkawi last year!) be run through the zip zap machine again and the slip signed so that if we damaged the van at all or didn’t return on time, they would simply bank the VISA slip for the whole cost of the vehicle!!!! As I have a very high credit rating, because I always pay off the whole amount every month and never ever use the credit facilities, I knew the bank would simply pay out no questions asked! This fact preyed on our minds for the whole 3-day hire, just because we are excellent taxi drivers does not mean we can’t have an accident, specially on roads we don’t know and the locals are very poor drivers plus the state of the roads was appalling! Also after a sleepless night and his bad leg still painful, Erle was not at his best to head off into the very dark night for a three-hour drive. Nightmare material really; two days of it, and more to come!
````````````````````` The hired van parked in Jonathan's driveway.
It wasn’t a fun drive for any of us, at first the main highway was not too bad but there was a lot of traffic, few street lights, driving rain, people walking along the road, and dogs everywhere, but soon the road deteriorated to a mass of deep pot holes, and eventually worsened till the road was totally unsealed, then to just a cart track and finally to a narrow goat track with rivers of water flowing down the mountain roads. Finally when we climbed to the top of a mountain covered with forest trees, Jonathan said, “right we are here; home” and over in the trees we could see a glimmer of light. The last 100yards was the most slippery and muddy, Erle struggled to make any headway with the van, the wheels just spun, so he backed back down to get a run on and managed to slither up and over the top to Jonathans home driveway. The next day we checked where he had backed back to, and found he was inches away from backing into a deep drain beside the track! We were so lucky as it was very dark with no visibility at all.