Bula

Trip Start Mar 14, 2006
1
316
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Trip End Mar 15, 2007


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Flag of Fiji  , Viti Levu,
Sunday, January 21, 2007

The first airbus to leave for the airport departed the city at 4:35am with me heading down early enough to make it to arrive in good time for my flight.

4:45am no bus. Although there was a friendly security guard hanging around who kept telling me the bus would just be coming in between pointing out hookers waiting around this area of town.

5am still no bus. Another couple had also turned by now with their flight leaving 30mins earlier than mine but being a domestic flight put us around the same time we needed to get to the airport.

5:20am nothing. By now we had crossed the safe deadline of getting to the airport with time to spare and the constantly passing taxis looked like the best option as I kidnapped one other guy going to the airport so 4 of us squeezed into the back splitting the cost down to within $2 of the bus.

What this meant though was arriving late and with Air New Zealand's lack of on line check-in had a seat in the very back row of the plane foiling any attempts at reclining the seat not that getting any sleep would be a realistic hope anyway due to being whacked by everybody and their kid going to the toilet.

Touchdown in Fiji. I remember this feeling of heat and humidity.

The morning's fun was soon forgotten though when on arrival at Nadi's airport we were greeted by a small band singing and playing guitars welcoming everyone to Fiji with the kind of open friendliness that would become the norm here.

Waiting at the airport for one more person before our shuttle bus to the hotel the taxi drivers were already enjoying some early Kava which I'd heard a lot about and was hoping to try out but never expected it to see it so soon. Kava is the local fire water yet containing no alcohol and is made from the grounding up the Kava plant root which is then mixed in water to give a muddy flavored drink known to be able to numb the lips and mouth.

Arriving at the Horizon Hotel I took a short walk along the beach although it was more mud than sand yet that didn't seem to stop many of the locals cooling off though I just settled on a quick dip in the hotel pool instead.

Nadi town itself was some distance back down the road which I started walking towards before a passing motorist stopped and offered me a lift into town. Not a great deal in Nadi other appearing a bit of a shanty town with Hindu temple at the far end of town and a peculiar high number of shoe shops. It did have a bit of a time warp feel about it though with 80's music playing out from every shop front fitting the age of most cars parked outside.

Bula (pronounced boolah) is the one expression you need to remember here in Fiji not that you will forget it though since you will hear it everywhere from being shouted at across the street or from a passing bus or spoken politely on entering a shop. It means hello but also just about anything else from happiness to good health being used as much as possible it seems especially towards visitors. Bula!

The owner of one shop got me talking before inviting me in as my traveling con-beware instincts started to prick up. However inside all he wanted to do was tell me about his village and show me pictures of it and of Fiji before inviting 2 of his friends out the back to come through and we all sat down in his shop having my first Kava ceremony.

One of the friends prepared the Kava bowl who I first thought was washing his shirt in the bowl but was just wringing the Kava root through it into the water before handing me the first bowl. There is a whole process that is gone through when drinking Kava which starts with a clap and a by saying "Bula" before taking the bowl which must then be drunk down in one before clapping three times afterwards to show your appreciation of the Kava. You can also not leave until the bowl is finished which gave us time to talk telling me more about Fiji from Kava to Cannibals and of course the many health benefits of drinking it which supposedly even cures cancer according to one newspaper cut out he showed me. It was clear how much they wanted to get across how friendly Fiji was and constantly told me to tell all my friends about the place in an effort to counteract any doubt over the safety of the area due to recent political events.

Taking the bus back to the hotel the evening saw more Kava time with the Kava-holics, a small group putting on some entertainment in the form of dances and of course more Kava drinking earning my Kavaholic life time membership. My mum must be so proud.
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