“Bula!” is the greeting in Fiji, and we hear it dozens of times each day. “Bula vinaka”- hello, how are you? We are bowled over by the gregarious friendliness here. Listen close, and you’ll also hear greetings of “namaste” and “salaam aleikum.”
Signs and pictures in the public market – Lambasa, Vanua Levu, Fiji
We find ourselves frequently wishing we had spent less time in French Polynesia. The farther west we go, the more interesting our experiences become, the more infatuated we grow with new islands and people. We’ve been in Fiji for a week now, and have a full blown crush blooming. With the cyclone season looming in November, it’s necessary to keep marching west (and eventually south, to Australia) to reach our destination before the weather turns. As a result, we won’t be able to spend nearly as much time in Fiji- a month, at best. I’m almost certain we’ll feel the same about Vanuatu… which makes us wonder if we’ll even get a chance to stop in New Caledonia.
It’s impossible not to think about how we’d re-carve a season in the South Pacific based on what we know now.
Moving forward without regrets, though, we embrace the days we have in Fiji. Savusavu has been our only port so far. There is a melange of Indian and ethnic Fijian culture, with a sprinkle of Chinese as well. The ethnic Indian population stems from workers brought in (mostly voluntarily) to work the sugar fields in the late 19th century. After ~125 years, they are still culturally distinct- but here in Savusavu, it’s a peaceful coexistince. Not all of Fiji is like this, we’re told. Any short history of Fiji’s recent politics underscores this. Fijians own the overwhelming majority land, and Indians own most of the commerce. But there are steps in the right direction: the current (Fijian) prime minister has at least declared all citizens to be known only as Fijians in government records, and no longer designated by their ethnicity in identification papers.
Lots of new pictures on our Flickr stream, for quick vignettes from our time here to date…
Siobhan captures how we all feel about the lush, mellow eco-resort of Palmlea on the north side of Vanua Levu. Really, though, she’s cracking herself up here…