Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Kava Time in Fiji

Yes we'd made it halfway across the earth to Brisbane, Australia but our first destination was Fiji. So we had another flight and more sitting in the airport time. Well I whipped out my magic Priority Pass again and we hit another airport lounge.

It was apparently morning here so they had breakfast foods available. A high point of the menu for me were these fun blended fruit juice shots. They were interesting flavors such as rock-melon, honey, and beetroot. The green one was apple, cucumber, and parsley.

I thought the decor was pretty spiffy too.

Lydia ordered a flat white, which is foamed milk poured on top of an espresso. That is apparently an Australian thing. I asked for a hot cocoa and the lady looked at me quizzically. "Sorry we don't have those. But we do have hot chocolates." This is going to be a fun trip.

We got real juicy.

Finally we landed at our final destination: Nadi, Fiji. I didn't really have any reference as to what this place was going to be like. I think just because it is a beachy touristy country that I figured it would be sort of like a more interesting Caribbean island. I think that ended up being pretty accurate.

One of the first things I noticed on our cab ride was that there seemed to be fires everywhere. Cab man told us that it has to do with the production of sugarcane. I think they use the fire to clear the land for the cane.

It was funny because our driver told us to eat and drink at the hotel. Usually they say the opposite.

Bula is a word that I heard every 10 minutes in Fiji. It's seems to have a few meanings, welcome, cheers, I don't really completely understand it but when people say it to you you are supposed to say it back. So that's what I did.

I've heard a few locals refer to "Fiji Time", which is a laid back attitude. Like the boat will arrive when it arrives don't worry about it. We joked that when we needed something it was Fiji Time but when someone needed something from us it was on Clock Time. Hotel checkout was Clock Time.

First Landing Beach Resort & Villas had a weird looking man-made island shaped like a foot. Ok.

All of the other hotel guests seem to be Australian.

I consulted the guide book to choose a good first dinner for us. The restaurant with the most Fijian sounding food was in the fancy touristy area called Port Denarau. 

Some more sugar fires.

Port Denarau is pretty much one big strip mall full of tourists. That was kind of embarrassing but I ended up being pretty satisfied with the cultural experience we had there. We were there for about 5 minutes before Lydia and Steph volunteered for a kava ceremony. Kava is the thing around these parts. It's made by grinding up kava roots then soaking them in water. I think it has a faint anise taste. Wikipedia says that the drink has "sedative, anesthetic, euphoriant, and entheogenic properties" but all I think I ever felt was a slightly numb mouth. Surprisingly I went on try this a few more times but I think that the stuff we had here in this strip mall for free was the strongest I tried.

When we finished watching the dancers it was Fiji Time for some Fiji food.

I picked the most Fijian sounding thing on the menu for an appetizer. Ika kokoda was "a local Fijian chilled speciality! Fresh deep sea walu marinated in lemon juice, served in miti and a side garden salad." It was a kind of ceviche as far as I was concerned. It was pretty good but I'm glad that it wasn't my entree.

I felt like this was an appropriate time and place to become one of those people that buys Fiji water. Tasted like water to me.

We had some kava time. Before you drink the kava from the half coconut shell you clap your hands and yell "bula!"

I was amused that one of the side dishes was called "local root crops" so I went with that. Our waitress was a character. Her two catch phrases of the evening were "kava time!" and "go Fiji go" whenever one of us ordered a Fijian dish. It was amusing. Things got a little weird later on when Steph didn't finish her food. The lady seemed legitimately upset about it and would not let it go. They don't do tipping in Fiji which is my favorite.

On the drive home we got stuck behind a very slow driving truck completely packed with sugar cane. Our driver was saying that the absolute worst thing that can happen is that they get a flat tire because then they have to use multiple jacks to raise the truck to change the tire because it's so heavy.

On the way home we stopped at a grocery store and even the strangers shopping there would yell "Bula!" at us. It's nice of them to welcome us but when people yell a word at you with the first syllable of "BOO!" over and over it can be startling. It was nice because I figured out that it wasn't just a fake something people say to amuse tourists. Fijians are actually nice welcoming people. Hurray for them! And for us.

It was funny I was reading the guidebook on the plane and on the first page it said something like "billed as the happiest place on earth" then later on it was like "don't walk at night: muggings and sexual assaults are common." So I didn't really know what to think. I guess they just keep a positive outlook on life despite being mugged over and over?

The only thing that was going to get sexually assaulted on my watch was this bag of counterfeit Malaysian Chips Ahoy! I bought.

Our hotel had one of those fun "upside down" maps. It's just pointing out that we've arbitrarily chosen which end of the earth is "up".

No comments:

Post a Comment