Published: March 19th 2012March 19th 2012
Well, where to start with Fiji! Literally one of the best times of our lives! We were greeted in Fiji by the extreme heat and traditional Fijian music being played as we stepped off the plane and beautiful scenery of course, it was paradise. Spent the first night in Nadi then headed over to Mana the next day at supposidly 9am, however we hadnt quite got the grips of 'fiji time' so didnt actually leave until gone 11. The mana flyer was a tiny little boat which we were all crammed into, there was no jetty so we had to carry our rucksacks in thigh high water in order to get onto the boat which was rather a challenge. Ratu Kini (the best hostel ever) was located right on the beach front of a small island, Mana, it was picture perfect! The ocean was vivid blues and the staff sang Fijian songs on the ukuleles, i cant even describe it as it was so unreal. Our dorm was localed right in the herat of the village, next to the primary school and church so you really got the community feel and fijian lifestyle. Spent our first day soaking up the sun
on the beach and hammocks and went snorkelling in the reef right off the beach where you could see some amazing corals, starfish, hundreds of exotic fish and a seahorse! Every day at the hostel there were free activies for the travellers including coconut demo's, basket weaving, medicine walks, fijian lessons which was really good as everyone got to know each other really well over the first few days, and in the evenings other acitivies which always included alot of drinking :). Our next day, we went on a trip to the Castaway island, Monuriki. The trip over on the tiny boat was pretty horrendeous, we ended up sitting on the floor for most of the journey as the seat wasnt attached to the boat itself and got caught riding over some massive waves where the seat became unattached and we all crashed down to the floor. After a 30 minute journey i think we all had very bruised bums! Before we got to Monuriki we had to stop over at the neighbouring island to pay the chief before we got to the island itself. We saw most of the sights from the film, the viewpoint (which we didnt climb
as it would of taken us hours), the cave burial site, the HELP sign and had fresh coconuts from the hundreds of palm trees over the island. We spent the next few days, drinking bounty (our favoriate drink) it is a local fijian dark rum which is 60% so as you can imagine after a few glasses we were rather drunk, but always had a great time with all the locals and travellers at ratu kini, with drunken swimming in the sea, bonfires, fire and knife shows and dancing. Also we both got a small tattoo from a local fijian tattoo artist to symbolise our travels. We both feel in love with Mana but after 5 days we had to leave back to the main island for work and volunteering, which turned out to be a complete disaster!
Rachel left for Suva that day, and only eneded up staying for a week instead of 6 weeks as it wasnt what she had hoped for. But did have a great homestay family which 4 other volunteers in the heart of Suva, in which other friends and family members came around in the evenings so it was always very social but
thats the fijian way. Suva itself was what we would class as a town which was very busy but deprived in alot of ways, espeically on the outer villages which was interesting to see as everyone was always so warm and welcoming with a very good spirit even though they didnt have alot and lived in tiny shacks in quite bad conditions with the entire of the family. Rachel took the 4hour bus back to Nadi in order to meet lauren which was an experience in itself. The bus was packed which at least 3 people to every seat and music playing from every phone possible, it was very noisy. The scenery was beautiful along the coral coast and pacific harbour through many tiny villages scattered along the roads selling fresh fish and local produce, but it was a relief when rachel finally got off the bus and back to Nadi to meet Lauren. Lauren's work didn't really ever come about due to fiji time and the general disorganisation of fiji so she had spent 2 weeks in a hostel in fiji, with several ilness's including 23 infected mosquito bites on the legs alone, where the only cure was a
massive course of antibiotics! I think we were both extremely happy to see each other again as we both needed our spirits to be lifted as the last week in Fiji had completely drained us both. This is when we decided to head back to our favoriate spot in Fiji..Mana!
Had a lovely welcome back to Ratu Kini from all the staff and it was so great to be back. The next 3/4 weeks we spent back on the island, soaking up the sun, lying in the hammocks, napping and of course drinking far far far too much bounty as you will see from our photos (i think we may have turned into raging alcoholics for a few weeks!) Every night was spent on the bar joining in with the activities which our new group of friends who worked at the hostel: Camy, Scott, Dave and Gael and all the other travellers we met on the way. The boys were a very bad influence as we didnt have one night off in the whole time we were there, but it was definatley one of the high points of our trip so far with many many laughs every night! Also
enjoyed the Kava ceremonies, it is a root plant which is soaked in water in a kava bowl which makes a mixture resembling muddy water. I cant even describe the taste but it makes your tongue go numb and makes you feel a little bit more drunk. It wasnt one of Laurens favoriate drinks so she always had to have baby cup, low tide, which meant the smallest coconut shell filled only a tiny bit, rachel on the other hand loved it until she nearly drank the whole kava bowl one night with a local and got put of the taste rather quickly after then. Our routine was very much the same everyday, however we both did go diving! Rachel completed her open water course, and Lauren who was convinced she was going to die completed her Discover Scuba after being physically dragged out to sea! We both went out to West Wing, a reef just off of Mana where we dived together which was so much fun. The coral and fish were amazing, and rachel even managed to see a few sharks! Another one of our few activities we managed to cram in, in between sunbathing was walking up
to the viewpoint and along sunset beach. The climb to the viewpoint nearly killed us, it was only a 20 minute walk but in about 35/40 degree heat and nearly 100% humidity we were literally dying by the time we got to the top, and as Lauren had forgot to put suncream on, it was a good excuse to head striaght back down again after a few pictures had been taken. By the end of our time in Mana we felt like one of the staff/locals as they knew our drink order to a tee, bounty and pineapple (we will miss you!) and just their general kindness and Bula hour! Bula hour was a fijian hour of the staff, KD and Sam playing the guitar and ukulele, whilst the guests sang and clapped along shouting 'BULA' randomly, and we never got bored of it, maybe due to the rum but all the new arrivals were introduced and the people who were leaving were sang the farewell song which of course we knew the words to by the time we left, with 'fijian boy' being one of Laurens favoriate all time songs!
All together Fiji was AMAZING, we really didnt
want to leave, made some great friends there and its the most beautiful place on Earth, we will be back! BULAAA and VINAKA!
There are more photos below