Monday, July 27, 2009

Things I learnt whilst in Fiji

Bula means hello. All Fijians will greet you with this word, and it’s a two-way greeting. It sounds like BU-Lahhhh.

Matamanoa is a couples-only island. If you are part of a same-sex friendship, visiting this island is certain to cause gossip amongst the staff.

Kava is a traditional drink to the Fiji islands. It makes your tongue numb, even upon drinking one coconut-half-cup full. It tastes a bit like muddy water. It’s technically a painkiller, as well as anesthetic.

Green coconuts are simply ‘immature’ coconuts. Brown ones are more mature. Coconut milk is actually clear. It can substitute for water if you are without it, in the Fijian bush, apparently. The interior of a green coconut is sweet and a bit slimy, though not in a gross way. The interior of a brown coconut is what is included in candy, cakes, pies, etc in American, though it’s far more sweet in our desserts. The brown coconut is a workout for the jaws.

Ben is a commonly adopted English name for men on Fijian islands. We met at least 5 on the small Matamanoa Island.

Losing your Einstein Bobblehead doll from your suitcase on the boat taking you to your remote island is likely to result in hilarity. See Mel’s blog.

Apparently, Sundays result in more fish being on the reef. Or so says Ben #2 of Matamanoa Island, aka Bobblehead, due to his involvement in the previous statement.

If a Fijian asks you if someone is pissed, it means drunk, not angry.

Jellyfish still bite, even in Fiji.

Matamanoa is apparently the island that all Italian couples come to when booking holidays in Fiji. “Italy versus the world!”`

Denarau is beautiful, when it comes to the resorts and the rooms. But you must, absolutely MUST, go to an island to experience Fiji.

Staying on Matamanoa is a bit like Adult Camp. There is an activities board. Everyone knows your name (not only the people working at the camp, but also the other guests). There is no privacy, at least when it comes to your name, where you’re from, etc. There are set times for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The #2 choir in all of Fiji is composed of the staff of Matamanoa. And they have beautiful voices. I love the “goodbye” song, but I hate the “goodbye”. Oh, life.

Kayaking in the ocean is entirely different than Kayaking in a lake.

The Milky Way is best seen from the dark, dark side of the island. We’ve seen stars in Bermagui, the Outback, and here, and I’m tempted to denote this island as the best. Shooting stars are rather frequent from this location, since the surroundings are so dark that you cannot be biased by unnatural light.

If 3 Fijians pull ashore to your island in utter darkness, they are likely picking up one or more of the staff from their long workday. They already know the path by heart, so light is apparently unnecessary.

If you are staying on Matamanoa Island, mail only goes out once a week, and by helicopter.

The helipad is a dock, right on the ocean. We thought it was a lost Dharma station.

If the boat you are taking back to the mainland is running late due to choppy water, you will make up lost time by bounding across the waves, frequently going airborne.

Life in Fiji can often feel like a musical, particularly at dinner time when the men serenade you with songs.

Shantaram is fantastic.

The infinity pool is infinitely cold.

When the parasailing instructors say they will ‘dip’ you in the water, they mean they will dunk you, at least to the waist, in the ocean. Beautiful.

New Zealanders find America to be ‘vibrant’. We think it’s a nice way of saying busy and loud. Ha!

Fijians and Aussies know flashlights as torches.

Bon fires on the beach, protected by the rocks from the raging ocean, in Fiji are unparalleled.

No tipping is allowed at resorts in Fiji. Instead, you can contribute to their Staff Christmas Fund. We figure their Christmas parties are massive, because they are so nice that you want to throw money at them.

The massive size of our luggage is irrelevant here because the porters insist on retrieving your luggage anywhere you stay.

Melissa has eaten so much seafood she might turn into a Squid. I told her I’d still be her friend, but I wouldn’t hang out with her as much. She said she wouldn’t eat ME if I turned into chocolate (well, maybe a nibblie or two...), but I don’t know if I believe it.

The forecast of “rain” means there may or may not be a few white clouds in the sky. It might also mean that a small rain cloud will drop a few sprinkles on you before blowing completely over the tiny island you are staying on.

Fiji hospitality is unmatched, at least in the places I have been. I wish everyone was able to seemingly appreciate their work as much as they do.

It’s creepy to hear scary stories about Fijian spiritual beliefs when you are surrounded by crashing waves, a dying bonfire, and what appear to be stone altars.

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