Trip Start Jan 20, 2008
53Trip End ??? ??, 2010
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When we arrived to the Nadi, "Nanditown" as they call it, airport, we knew we wanted a cheap ride to the Club Masa which was about an hour or two ride from the airport just outside of Sigatoka (singatoka as they pronounce it). As we are figuring out how to catch a bus ride which is much more interesting, way cheaper and come to find out, much safer way of traveling than the vans (crazy drivers) or taxis (most expensive), we meet Joe. He's a big friendly Fijian male who asks us if we are going to Suva, cause he drives people there. When he finds out that we are not his next fare, instead of blowing us off and looking for the next possible client, he asks us to sit down and chat for a bit. We're on Fiji time! He tells us how to catch the bus we need, chats about life on Fiji, asks us plenty questions and answers any we came up with. When our bus was coming, he flagged them down, helped us load up and sent us on our merry way. What a country!
Now the only problem with our experience with Joe is that he brought our guards down so after the beautiful, hangin' with the locals bus ride, we landed in the market at the bus stop in Sigatoka, and fell prey to the most lethal sales force a tourist has ever seen...the Indians...from India...living in Fiji. They are smart, aggressive, manipulative, and masterful. Before we got out of there, Ingrid and I had a necklace and a bracelet and a charm apiece!!!! they come and fan you and try to help carry your bags, maybe give you a little treat for your long hot journey. Then say please come look at my booth. "No thank you , i don't have money to buy", please just come look at it, you don't need to buy, "ok", here, as she slips a coconut bracelet on my arm, is a gift for you for coming to look at my stuff, "no i can't take this", it is a gift, it would be rude to give back, plus i am sayin gprayers for you and safe travels, please look at some of my other things since i gave you a gift, the woman in the booth next to me is fanning me the whole time, I decide ok I should buy one thing since they've been so nice and gave me a gift, "maybe i'll get something for my girl", no try this for you, she is getting stuff for her with the other lady, this looks nice, "no...what abotu this one. How much?", oh nice, $30, suprised, no i can't do that, oh i'll give you this as well two for one, for $40, "what?!", "no", alright $35, but i'm barely covering my cost, now since my firend has been fanning you the whole time, you need to look at her booth, as the womangrabs my arm an dslips another gift on my arm. "and I strongly say no"I have no more money for gifts!", she says well just alittle something for the gift, i'm thinking is that really a gift then?, so i give her $5, and she says that will not even cover her booth cost,and i say sorry and she puts on a bigger guilt trip, and i end up giving her the rest of my change which ends up being $2.5 more dollars, SUCKER!!!!!!! I used no periods, cause there was not even a second for me to think during this 5-30 minute interaction.
I of HI:
That is hilarious to read Heath's entry because as he said, I was off in some other chickie's booth getting gifted and fanned and jolly rogered at the same time, so I didn't know he was going thru quite the same rogering! Ratbags. But I have nursed my wounded pride and Sucker feelings by patting myself on the back for helping out a person who obviously needs the money more than I do, and who used their brains to work out some pretty damn good techniques to get it. And I have dedided that these most determined market wolves are just meant to teach me a lesson in saying no means no, and how to be a little more wiley on the spot, and how not to be such a SUCKER!
So after our J. Rogering, we sat up on a balcony in a little vegg-o indian joint and munched on delish curry and rice, and sipped Tea Masala, safe in our little India haven high above the swarming marketeers below. (It really wasn't all that bad but makes for juicy reading!)
And wait, didn't we say we were in Fiji? That does bring to light the India/Fiji mix of the population which makes for an interesting cultural and political dynamic. Indians came in masses in the 1800's to work the sugar cane, and as Dan the Manross put it, they are kind of stuck in an older time. You can see the Indian influence in the towns, and they tend to have a heavy hand in most of the business side of life. Dan will have to fill in the politics part as it relates the the recent coup, because as anyone who knows me can tell you "I don't do politics!" :)
I would also like to say that Fijian older women all have Bernie Mac hair, which was explained to me as a convenience factor, since all the women come to market for weeks at a time to sell off their vegetables or jewelery or kava, but once they go back into their villages they have to wear their hair down, which can be a hot p.i.t.a., so they all tend to go for the short low maintenance Bernie Mack hair, which is so cute and cheeky - and so are the women! All over town we hear these women just giggling and laughing it up, and teasing one another and their buddies on the street. It's such a lighthearted contrast to how we felt in the markteplace. And we really came to find that most of Fiji is like this - so much laughter and smiling. And Bula! from everyone.
H here: That is so true! Even the men were such big hilarious laughers. Sevu, who we'll mention later, is a strong, manly man who hardly smiles when you first meet him. His family was actually appointed guardians to the chief in the village, his older brother being the head guardsman. BUT, when he laughs, he's like a little kid being tickled! You remember the quotes, "Dance like no one is watching, sing like no one is listening, and love like you've never been hurt before"? That's the Fijians.