June 10, 2002
The Twilight Zone

Crosswords with Anthony, soccer bets with Paul and Tim working as CP (Creep Police)...sounds much too familiar and with only 11 sleeps to go it is downright odd. Alas all this and more occured on my very long vacation to the "Friendly North". This entry will probe to be massive as it is filled with 2 weeks of travel, so please bear with me and I will try my hardest to make it somewhat interesting.

THE TREK TO SAVUSAVU- As promised following the completion of my assignements I walked into the Air Fiji office in Suva looking for an escape route off Viti Levu. I arrived at around 1:30 pmm and thankfully a flight to Savusavu was departing in an hour, giving me just enough time to get to the airport in Nausori. My anxiousness coupled with debilitating fear of flying meant for an interesting flight. Nausori never ceases to amaze me as far as airports go. I was once again to board at Gate 3, which is only intersting because the entire airport only has 2 doors; one which leads to outside and one to the tarmac. I have yet to figure out why they decided to christen the door leading to the planes "Gate 3", but there it is identified on an 8 by 11 piece of cmputer paper in bold black Times New Roman. The airport also has a metal detector which they make you walk through, but isn't actually turned on. I walked though it with my metal bag in my hand, and the person in front was holding his umbrella. I'm thinking that maybe it is used as a deterrence mechanism. I had a minor aneurysm when I saw the plane that I was expected to board as it was the smalles flying contraption I have ever laid eyes on. In a display reminiscent of Cricus Clowns and their mini-mobile or Parul's Mazda and half the soccer team, 8 people piled onto the mini carriage of death and off we went. The plane was actually slightly better than the other 2 that I've taken in Fiji, in that it had a little light up sign advising passengers to put on their seat belts as opposed to a taped up piece of paper. We landed at the airport in Savusavu, which is acutally just a couple of covered benches, and I caught a cab into town. It didn't take long to find a lovely little Guest House to stay in. I was exhausted and it was raining so I decided a well-deserved sleep was in order. When I entered my room I was shocked (I'd like to emphasize this by repeating it)...SHOCKED...to discover a Queen size bed. I have slept in many beds since my arrival here, but never have I graced a Queen. I crawled into bed, pumped up the fan to maximum velocity and spread across the entire width of the bed. I rolled over once...feeling adventurous I rolled over a second time and pleased to still be above ground giggled satisfyingly. These displays continued for a few minutes before I ended up hugging the wall closely, taking up a small portion of my massive bed. The intimacy I shared with the wall as probably not the greatest of ideas because walls tend to be the highways of various creatures, including roaches, and because the wall was destined to remain stiff and unyielding...failing to return my affections.
My nap lasted until around 8 when I woke up to a rumbling tummy. I had heard rumors of a marvelous restaurant in town, so I got sulu'd up and off I went. The restaurant is called the Bula Re and the special for the evening was King Prawns. My fetish for shrimp has been largely unsatisfied here, mainly because you can't eat any shell fish from around Suva or you will die for various dieseases, so I decided to tream myself. I figured that if I ate 2 nights at the bula Re, I would just need to limit the rest of my meals to the bare basics. This seemed like an excellent proposal and I accepted in whole heartedly. ON Wednesday I ate my shrimp and on Friday I had Wahu steak. The remaing 5 lunches and dinners cost me a total of 5$ (they were all eggplant, cabbage and rice). This worked out to be just fine because the two meals that I treated myself to were the greatest things I had in Fiji and will go down in history as the most enjoyable food I have had the pleasure to consume.
Savusavu is a gorgeous town located on the south of Vanua Levu. The entire township is around 4 blocks long and while one side is dappled with colorful shops, the other opens up to a beautiful blue Bay accented by huge sailing ships. The town is a major stop for Yachties in the South Pacific making it one of the few places that you will see a fair number of Europeans and Americans walking around. The other highlight of Savusavu is it's Hot Springs. Although I think that it is just stupid to have hot springs in a city whose annual low is 21.3 degrees Celsius, they provided some fairly neat night-time spectacles. The hot springs aren't actually used for bathing (who the heck would want to take a dip in hot water when it is already 25 out), but instead used for cooking vegetables in. Other than these highlights, Savusavu has a good beach around 5km from town. Each morning I walked back and forth with the occasional pick-up giving me a lift. The beach is actually located on a resort, so I stealthily broke into the facilities....okay it wasn't actually a display of cunning ingenuity I just waslk in along the water and when approached would exclaim "The room is lovely!". This seemed to be enough to keep me from getting kicked out (Jenny and Chris didn't fare as well the month before). I managed a lot of reading...no studying and some excellent swimming.

THE ENGAGEMENT- That is correct, I may have inadvertantly gotten engaged to a Fijian guy...please let me explain before you make any harsh judgements. ON Friday Night I decided to head up to the Hot Springs Hotel for a town dance. I was all alsone, so I was fairly apprehensive about mingling with a bunch of drunk people, but decided to at least check if they had a tv where I could watch some Soccer. I treked up the hill to the hotel, grabbed a stubby and sat down alone at a table. With-in a minue an older guy came up to me and asked me to dance, I politely declined, but he invited me to his table to drink. This seemed a safer and quieter idea, so I joined him and his 2 brothers and sister. The 3 boys had polished off a bottle of rum prior to arriving and the older 2 were quite inebriated. It took a few minutes of the brothers highlighting the excellent qualities of their younger brother Kali (another soldier), for me to realize that this was all an attempt to set me up. I decided to end all discussion my flashing my trusty gold band (which has proved to have powers as great as Hercules and his ring from Olympus...I know you all remember the cartoon) and explained that I had a lovely husband waiting for me patiently in Mimico, Ontario (he misses me a lot, but it is best that we are apart during Playoff time so that he can concentrate on the game). I thought this would be enough to end all discussion of marriage, but alas the brothers continued to try to get a list of friends/sisters back home who might marry Kali. This entire time the significantly less drunk younger brother is hiding his head shamefully in his arms. I had an intersting discussion with the older boys about why they wanted a Western Girl so badly, but failed to get any real anser. They did manage to suck up to me quite nicely with their compliments, but their conclusion that Fijian girls weren't as attractive because they tried to hard to look Western didn't make much sense to me. Eventually the brothers left the table to dance a bit and I actually got to speak to the eligible young bachelor. What proceeded was the funniest thing that I have ever heard in my entire life and reminded me of all the guys across the Pacific. I asked Kali if he actually wanted to get married to a Canadian or anyone else for that matter and he replies: "I don't want to getm arried, I just want to drink beer and have fun. My brothers want me to marry because their wives don'tlet them party and they are jealous of me. I love my beer more than anything else, girls come aske me to dance and I say no because I need to stay with my beer so no-one can steal it. Why can't they let me just sit with my ber and have fun". This made me laugh so hard, especially when he spoke lovingly to the 2 jugs of beer in front of him. It turns out that he was a pretty cool guy who'd spent the year in Lebanon with the Fijian peace-keppers. When his brothers returned they continued to harass him about dancing with a girl and finally feeling sympathetic I said..."Fine I'll marry your brother". The brothers were too drunk to remember that I was already "married" and were ecstatic about the whole thing. Kali whispered a quick thanks and told me that his brothers would forget about the whole thing by morning anyways. It seemed liek an excellent little arrangement because Kali got his beer and I didn't have to dance with anyone because I was sitting with my "Fiance". I went home soon after and all seemed fine and dandy until Sunday when I saw my "fiance" on the Ferry to Taveuni. I went to go say a friendly hello and he introduced me to his family as his girlfriend...needless ot say I made a quick exit downstairs and hid out until we docked. In the end it hardly matters because I won't ever see him again anyways.

TAVEUNI- On Sunday morning I woke up at 4 am to catch the ferry to Taveuni. I was hoping to find Erika, Jenny and others, but the complete lack of communication since my departure made any plans sketchy at best. After I boarded the ferry I entered the sitting lounge and found 7 of my friends strewn across chairs trying to sleep off the end of their 11 hour ferry trek (7 more to go to Taveuni). The ferry itself was in questionable condition and seemed to be a real multicultural affair. The lifejackets had German writing, the signs on deck were in Swedish, the seats had English instructions (that advertised life jackets were under the seat...clearly a lie) and Fijian/Hindi was sproadically found elsewhere. I avoided going to the washroom (if you had seen the ferry, you would have too), but I'm sure that it was in Russian or French. The seats on deck looked as though they had never been cleaned and smelled even worse. Normally beverages/snacks were serverd, but it was Sunday and the mass on deck meant to early morning coffee. This slight inconvenience was made bearable by the beauty of the scenary and the sunrise over the Ocean. It took around 5 hours to get to Taveuni and the first thing you see as approaching is a huge white cross hovering over the palm trees. This was oddly reminiscent of another white landmark that looms over the hilltops of a California suburb. INteresting to see two religions so prominently displayed in the same manner, emphasized some important differences between Fiji, with its Jungle churches and N. America with its Cineplex Odeons. Enough pessimism...we docked in Waivelo and caught a carrier into Naqara. It ended up working quite nicely with 4 couples being present: James and Erika, Malcolm and Christina, Audrey and Anthony and Jenny and Sierra. Being the only not real couple meant Jenny and I got seriously shafted in the room distribution, but it also meant we didn't have to make dinner or clean up for drunk boys.
The first thing we did in Taveuni is make our way to teh Natural Waterslides in Waivelo. These were basically waterfalls that had eroded the rock so nicely that it was smooth and slidable. You could sit on the rocks and go sliding quite a ways into a big pool. Please do not be fooled into thinking that this was like the plast slides of Wild Rapids, my ass was suitably bruised following the adventure. It was, however, amazingly fun and one of the really unique things that I did in Fiji.
The next day we decided to climb the 1190 m Des Voeux Peak...I don't feel like ever talking about this again. Actually...it wasn't that horrific...5 hours of climbing in intense heat, only to enter clouds where we could see absolutely nothing nayways. The highlight for me was an arachnophiliac's delight! There were many tees whose sole purpose was to act as a skeleton for hunderds of thick spider webs. The spiders themselves were amazing...probably the slize of a hand with brightly jeweld bodies of yellow, green and black.
The next three days was spent in Matei, a gorgeous little town on the NOrth of Taveuni. We Stayed in a little place along a golden sand beach and were treated to fresh avocadoes, pawpaws and bananas. On the first day we lounged on the beach and I finished crosswords from Anthony (by finished I mean completed 2 puzzles and made up a whole lot of words to complete another 2). We took a carrier out to the East Coast and walked along the Lavena Coast. The area is amazing and we got to cross the coolest little Indiana Jones bridge. The next day we went to the Bouma Waterfalls. Now when you arrive in Fiji, you will notice that EVERYWHERE claims to be the place where they shot the film Blue Lagoon or Return to the Blue Lagoon. I've become extremely skeptical of such claims because I don't belive that they used all 40 of Fiji's Islands in each film, but Bouma is definetly in Return to the Blue Lagoon. It is this waterfall the comes flowing off a tall fliff and you can swim around it, under it behind it and basically goof around in the water. It was there that I met Paul, a Scottish guy travelling around....we chatted about teh World Cup and I managed to lose yet another bet on the Argentina/England game. At night we conjugated back at the hostel, ate disgusting canned foods, built fires on the beach and stared at the sky. IN a moment of sheer jubilation we finally located teh Big Dipper...the frist hint that people at home can actually see the same sky as us.
On Friday the boys and Audrey caught the ferry to go back to Suva and Erika, Chris, Jenny and I were left in Matei. We had consumed the vast majority of our food and Jenny and I were elected to head across town to the supermarket to get some eggs and bread for dinner. The supermarket is around an hour away if you walk, but catching a carrier is very easy. Jenny and I decided that it was a pretty nice day out, so at 4:00pm we set out to Bhula Bhai on foot. Around 5 minutes from the store is a little coffee shop called "Audrey's Sweet Somethings" and because we had walked the full 55 minutes, we figured we deserved a coffee and pastry. The shop is run by Audrey an older American lady, who I am asuming made a whole lot of money than came to Fiji to live the "simple" life. The shop is obviously more of a hobby than a buisiness which worked out just fine for us. Right away Audrey began serving us shots of home-made Khalua, before getting us a big bodum full of real coffee and an awesome super chocolately fudge cake. It was a wonderful treat and after realizing it was 5:45 and the store was closing soon, Jenny and I got back to our feet and bought the groceries. The sun was setting as we headed home, so we decided to, once again, go on foot. It took as 45 minutes before we arrived at "Island Pizza" a tiny restaurant right on the beach. Because we had been such good girls and walked all the way back from the store we felt that we deserved a beer. So we sat down and enjoyed a cold stubby as well as complimentary Dalo and Breadfruit chips. At around 7:30pm we finally made it back home with supper in hand, although we were hardly hungry anymore.
Saturday morning Jenny and I left the others and went to Vuna which is the southern point of Taveuni. The bus ride takes you along the water through coconut plantations and rainforest. As gerat as teh trek was, we were a alittle apprehensive because we had not heard anything amazing about Vuna. When we arrived we were shocked at how gorgeous it all was. The Lodge we stayed at overlooked an amazing lagoon marked with strokes of aquamarine, green, sapphire and blue. There was no-one around, but a note was left that said that our arrival was expected and to just let ourselves into the dorm. We opened the door and were just picking out our beds when we heard this rukus from outside and it comes a big white and brown dog with her 5 puppies right behind. The mama dog stopped and looked at us and than darted into the back room obviously trying to escape her oh so hungry litter. Eventually she managed to hide beneath a bed with her brood scattered around the cottage. The 5 pups were the sweetest, cutest things in the entire world and our day was monopolized by plaing with them. Eventually Salote came back home with her young cousin Tim with her. Tim is probably our age and immediately invited us to go with him to the Village dance. From the beginning it was quite obvious that Vuna did not get the tourists that Matei and Naqara did and that the two blond girls were a phenomena of sorts. None the less we had some beer and than off we went. The event was actually a fundraiser for Tim's rugby team. The way the event works is that for each bowl of grog (kava) you have to pay 10 cents. You don't buy grog just for yourself, but pay for others to drink it in order to be spiteful (trust me grog isn't very pleasent). If you don't want the bowl that someone has bought for you, you need to pay 20 cents to send it back. Jenny and I were easy victims and right away we got a bunch of bowls bought for us. We adapted an excellent strategy to deal with this, and made ceratin to buy double the amount for any person who dared to force us to drink the stuff. The dance was alright, however we garnered more attention than we wanted. Time was forced to be our CP (Creep Police) and he told many people that we had husbands back at the lodge waiting for us. This didn't seem to be enough of a deterrent, so we finally figured out that if you asked someone first than at least you could choose a decent partner (it was obvious some of the players had found Bounty before the event). I think Tim loved this entire thing as his popularity in the village was dramatically boosted by the fact he had 2 blonds on his arms...but I guess that was the price we paid for protection. We went home quite early, got followed by a bunch of guys which were eventually persuaded to head home after Tim told them that our boyfriends were large mean men. The next day Tim took us to the Blow Hole, which is basically a hole in the wall where the water spurts out. It was a cool walk, with fresh pawpaws the whole way and a stunning view of volcanic rock at the end.
On Monday Jenny and I reboarded the plane of doom and arrived in Suva exhausted. Jason left for Vanuatu on the 8th so I was expecting to come to an empty home, what greeted me was, however, a little shocking! I walk into the house...exhausted...and find scattered around the house: a woman's hat, a bottle of mousse, some Body Shop cream, and Grapefruit Body Scrub. So Jason if you are reading this...I am APPALED! Why was there some other woman in MY house (by MY I mean your). To add insult to injury there was a note on the table outlining the demands for a divorce and saying I better have my bags packed and out by the 21st! Well what can I say...I'm deeply wounded. Acutally sadly Jason won't be back in Suva before I leave on the 21st, so I don't actually get to see him before I go. However, if you are reading this J. in our divorce settlement I demand half of the Bounty Rum!

MALCOLM- I know this is getting long, but this section is worth it. Malcolm is the co-winner of the MVP this week. The first Sunday that we were in Taveuni the girls were sitting inside the house eating ice cream and chatting (yes I realize this is stereotypical), when we went outside we realized that the boys had decided to consume an entire bottle of Bounty Rum. Needless to say, they were very inebriated and we relished in the opportunity to mock them while they couldn't think clearly. First of all in a moment of excitement Malcolm through his hands up and managed to tip over his chair and land head first into a pile of rocks. Then he says to me: "I'm like Yoda...I may be small but I know how to use my light saber". This was a little too much information and I politely told him: "Maybe it isn't such a good idea to advertise you are small". Somehow Malcolm had forgotten what he had just said and began protesting calling us all mean for making fun of him. I don't think it helped when he begged his girlfriend Chris to "back him up" and she said "okay honey...yes he's small". We were all just having a little fun, but Malcolm was getting a little upset and decided to prove himself by taking off his shorts. Thankfully all permanent damage was avoided because we had enough time to look away and beg him to put his clothes back on. The next day we were at Matei having a fire on the beach. Some people decided to go for a skinny dip in the water, while some decided to stay at the fire. The people who decided to get naked did so by walking AWAY from the fire...dropping off their clothes in the DARK and jumping in the Ocean. Malcolm, however, decided to stand right at the fire...whip off his shorts and then proceed to take off his shirt and go for a swim. Don't worry...I'm not done yet. At the end of the Lavena Coastal walk there is a really nice waterfall that you need to walk across a few rocks to get to. Erika and I had reached the falls an hour before Malcolm, Audrey and Jenny and we started back as they were arriving. Back at the meeting place we were waiting for the three of them to return, wondering what had taken them so long. Finally along comes Malcolm with a shirt hanging off the front of his shorts...why you ask...because he had managed to completely tear the inner seam of his pants and was essentially short-less. It seems as though he was walking on the rocks when he took a little to big of a step and made a minor ear in his shorts. Then he decided to hop in the water and swim at which point he completely tore his shorts up. The walk back is something that I only wish I could have been a part of, as he passed 3 other older hikers, including 2 before he could get the shirt to cover himself up. The kicker of it all is that when we are finally together and he gets an extra pair of shorts he takes 3 steps towards a tree and whips off the remainder of his threads. As we are all busting a gut laughing, he tries to tell us that he was hiding behind a tree...clearly not true as we all got yet another look at nudie Malcolm.

MERRELS- The other winner of the MVP is my lovely Merell sandles who were lost at sea this week-end. They may have stunk a lot worse than most, but I loved them and I am very sorry to see them go...especially because I can't afford new ones. I'm only thankful they got to have their final resting place in beautiful Fiji they were looking pretty old and tired and it was better that they left now before they were completely useful.

OTHER NOTES- I got my mail today (they made a special box for me because I got so much). Thanks Dad for all the postcards they were great...it was also nice to hear from you Heidi. As for you Keith...if you purchase another Vespa we are THROUGH! I am not even kidding...I told you not to buy them last time and now I can see the flicker of Vespa-excitement in your eye (or your ink)...keep away! However, if you do manage to get the other 2 working...I want to ride the girly one!
Sorry for all the spelling errors, I had to type quickly to avoid paying the big bucks...
The flight is confirmed so I will be back in Vancouver on the 21st at 5:00pm on Flight 820 from Nadi, Suva

Your Uro Kavelaqi Sierra

Posted by Sierra at June 10, 2002 08:44 PM

It was nice to hear your voice last night! I'm glad I answered the phone and not my dad, or else he would have said I wasn't home (even though I clearly was) and you would have spent another $10 just to talk to him.
see you soon.

Posted by: Lorey on June 11, 2002 10:55 AM

Bonjour ma soeur,
Demain est ma dernière journée au Québec. Je suis hâte de te voir. So many adventures!
See you soon! Kirsten

Posted by: big sis on June 13, 2002 05:00 PM

I hope you haven't suffered too much brain damage from your minor aneurism...I'll check you out in Edmonton - How many fingers am I holding up right now??? Teresa (Jay would say,"The Mighty Teresa')

Posted by: teresa kuchinsky on June 23, 2002 10:42 PM
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