Or about a big little island on the other end of the world...
(Polska wersja tutaj)
Bula here, bula there, bula everywhere!
Bula is a Fijan hello/welcome/good morning and so much more! It's the essence of local hospitality, it's a warm smile shared with strangers and tourists, it's the easiest way to strike up a conversation.
Although I arrived to Fiji only 3 days ago, I could already experience how helpful and kind the local residents are. When we get lost or are unsure about the direction, there's always someone to show us the way. We don't even have to ask for help. They look into our tired eyes and confused mind and immediately ask where are we heading and try to help. Very often random strangers walk with us for a few hundred metres to make sure we arrive safely at the destination. And they don't do it for money or for the sake of showing some great local products or rooms for rent, which was usually the case in Morocco or India. They just do if out of the urgent need to help. To me Fiji is an updated version of India and a smother edition of Morocco.
After arriving to Nadi and meeting Magda who's on the trip around the world, we headed towards Suva to find our way to another island. Nadi doesn't have much to offer, apart from a colorfoul Hindu temple and a few resorts. We stayed in a Bamboo Hostel, a great place for backpackers, right on the beach. The journey by bus to Suva took about 4 hours. There were no more ferries that day to Ovalau, so we were forced to stay in the capital overnight.
And we didn't like it at all.
Busy, dark and empty after sunset. Noisy like an Indian city, with honking cars and loud music.
I felt relieved once we finally got on the bus towards Levuka. We were the only tourists there, squeezed among many happy Fijan faces. The journey that was supposed to take 1,5 hours took on a Fijan dimension and lasted 3 hours. And then the long wait for a ferry, which was supposed to leave within 15 minutes and left after over 1 hour. The Fijan time has its own rules.
On a ferry we met Abbi, a Fijan soldier working for the UN. He just got back from Syria and was selling Iraqi perfumes on the board. He comes from a little village next to the Ovalau island. His family house was destroyed in the cyclone last February when he was serving his duty abroad. Abbi managed to rebuild it and can now spend a peaceful time on Fiji before leaving to the army again.
I also met a woman who emigrated from Suva to Sydney. She claims that the government doesn't support the residents in need: there are no social benefits, and no many days off except of the national holidays. About 25% of population lives below the poverty level and the prices in shops are comparable to those in Western Europe.
European are also influences and history on the little island of Ovalau, where we arrived a few hours ago. You can read more about this unique place in the next post.