Published: May 28th 2009April 16th 2009
Before the mud...obviously.
16/4/09 = Back to where it all began...Nadi.
Woke up v.itchy with yet more bites. I hate you mosquitoes! I'm sure they actually like the taste of my insect repellent...maybe it was labelled wrong and is actually mosquito food. Got changed and headed for breakfast with diary - diary + just in case food took so long to come. Ordered toast once Deb had come down - 2 portions...feeling extra greedy - and then shatted whilst waiting. Debs' food came more or less straight away, but 45mins later, I was still waiting for my plain toast. How hard can it be to put bread in a toaster? Could see that other people were waiting eagerly too...the anticipation and angst was written all over their faces. Nearly an hour later it finally came. Gobbled it down and headed to beach; had a few hours before needed to leave to catch bus.
Again, tide fully in this morning, so no beach left. Had to sit on raised area in the shade. Read book for a while, lounged in sun when it did come out, then tried some snorkelling. Voli Voli = supposed to be really good for snorkelling. Waded in and
Soaking in yummy warm goo.
then noticed all jelly fish. They were huge and they were everywhere. Oh no! I knew they couldn't be dangerous because there were lots of people in sea, but I still didn't like them. Got out to ask dive instructor about it and he even made me touch one to prove they weren't dangerous. Fair enough, they might not be poisonous, but it kind of ruined my leisurely swim idea. There were just so many of them; I was on constant lookout. Snorkelling didn't work out either. All I could see was jellyfish - which I didn't like anyway - and then there was no-one in water excpet me, and that is never a good thing...who else would the shark eat? Nope, got out after that. It was 11am anyway, so headed back to room to get showered and ready for a midday leave.
Got showered next to a giant spider...and I mean giant. I'm not that scared of spiders, but I'm not a fan of showering with them either. Deb couldn't help but scream when I let him out to show her...he was gross. Got changed, rammed things into bag for like the millionth time, then went to
check out. Bus was at 12:30 in town and were hoping to get a lift with Fiji Experience bus into town at 12 so could save on money on rip off taxi. V.lucky that they agreed and set off on time - well, 5mins late actually, but that is very on time in Fiji. Would have all worked out brilliantly, but the grumpy/nasty bus driver wouldn't drive the extra section into town to drop us off, he would only drop us on the road. Could hear the nice tour lady arguing on our behalf, but the bus driver was having none of it. He dumped us on the corner of the road, us and another guy who had also cadged a lift.
We were v.lucky again that a Fijian guy came along to help us out. He showed us where the bus stop was, waited with us until the bus came, then stayed to make sure we got on alright. Lovely. And then we were set for yet another long haul journey. 3hrs to next town, then a change over of buses to take us back to Nadi. This bus was smaller and had less leg room, but seats
Setting in the sun
were actually padded and slightly comfy. Sometimes it pays to be small. Saw v.similar sights again as made our way to town and I did my v.familiar in and out of snoozing routine. We actually arrived early, after just 2hrs. Had a 30min wait until next possible bus, so headed off to get some food. Found the reliable old 'Bread Kitchen' - have made a lot of visits to Bread Kitchens in Fiji - and got the usual cheesy rolls. Also went to fruit market and got a pear. We stood out for miles in that fruit market...not a single other white or blonde haired person around. Not a bad feeling though...always feel comfortable and accepted among Fijian people.
Ate food and got on bus. This time it was a small and v.busy bus, but was only a short journey back to Nadi. Took less than an hour, then got off and caught our last bus back to resort. This was a local, local bus, totally full to brim. Had to squash ourselves through tiny/narrow aisle with backpack on and wedge into the only 2 seats available, backpacks still on like turtle shells. Got chatting to a local guy
who was v.interested in England, but could he could only half understand what we were saying and we understood him even less. Glad when someone else got on and he started chatting to them. Bus filled with kids all standing up, but then driver pulled up in front of hostel and we squeezed off. Knocked and barged several people accidentally with bags in process and finally stepped off to place where it all started for us in Fiji; Nomads Skylodge.
Walked down path, checked in and dumped bags in room. Went straight back out and headed into town. Both v.excited for internet because been such a long time since used it and am now incredibly far behind on blog. Chatted on way, got a nice drink and then v.disappointed to find shop was closed. Was only 5:30 and shop was supposed to be open all night. Oh no. Trundled off to other shop = rubbish and much more old school. Computers from 60's (don't even know if computers had been invented then), screen so close actually could feel my eyes turning square and a uneven keyboard that jumped and banged up and down every time I typed. Spent 30mins
re-starting it constantly because it kept shutting down on me and then the same police man came in that we had just seen in the last internet shop. Within minutes we were being evicted; apparently the police were shutting all the shops down. He couldn't tell us why - it wasn't a secret or anything, he just didn't know - so we had to come off having done hardly anything. Totally rubbish.
Went to the usual, cheap take away shop next door and got dinner early. Got the only vegetarian thing on menu = vegetable chow mein - really can't face bony meat anymore - then walked back to hostel in darkness. Was early, so spent a bit of time writing diary and postcards, then paid a ridiculous amount of money to use internet at $8 per hour. Really need to catch up on this blog thing! Finished at 10:30 and went off to bed. Fell asleep straight away, even with light on :)
17/4/09 = Last day in Fiji...bring on the mud!
Got up early today ready for our trip to the mud pools at 9am. V.excited. Got our last pancake breakfast - our last breakfast
at all in Fiji - then packed up and got ready. Had to put bags in storage ready for flight later tonight. Taxi man came bang on time - don't know why he wasn't on Fiji time, but it worked for us - and set off to mud pools. Was only a short journey, but the 'roads' were pretty crazy. First part was being re-surfaced for miles, which meant v.slow driving for a while. Then we turned off into a farmers field and this was the second part of the road, although it definitely wasn't a road, it was a dirt track at best. Gravel, pot holes, farm crops and animals all the way along to the mud pools...so, we're not talking about your average Harrogate spa day out.
Arrived at 9:30 and owner came straight over to us for payment. Explained that we had already paid a deposit, but he claimed the deposit was never given to him...apparently he never took deposits or accepted vouchers. Well somebody had our money! We had a mini 'dispute' for several minutes until finally found out that the deposit was for the taxi. The taxi man failed to mention this as he
A distance shot
Even Rambo didn't blend in that well!
watched us argue! Paid the $10 entry to pools and headed off behind another family who had also just gone in. The owner came with us, led us to end of land and explained what we had to do. Quite technical this mud pool business.
First: Get into muddy pool and relax for a few minutes.
Second: Collect mud from the bottom of the pool and place it somewhere along the bankings of the pool.
Third: Get out of the pool and set about covering your whole body in mud. Make sure to cover the whole of of your body, even your hair.
Fourth: Once covered, stand in a sunny spot and allow the mud to set and dry. This may take several minutes depending on the quality of spot chosen to stand in.
Fifth: When the mud has set and you no longer have much range of motion in your body, get back into the mud pool and wash off the mud.
Sixth: Finally, get into the fresh water pool and remove the mud fully. Enjoy the new revived feeling in your body.
*Note* The word 'pool' can be v.decieving. It looked much more like a ditch or a
With these steps fully explained, set about following them.
Had to climb down a really slippy ladder to get into mud pool, slippy with mud and water. When foot first touched pool, suprised how warm it actually was, felt really nice. Nice feeling soon disappeared when foot touched bottom...yuk...seaweed - well, not seaweed, but some form of disgusting plants. All could feel were long, gangly leaves stroking skin and wrapping themselves round legs. Gross. Could not put feet down again. Had to lay on back and tread water. How long was this going to last for? No way I can grope through seaweed to get mud! Seeing our predicament, the owner quickly told us that the best mud was at the edges of the pool. Swam straight over. Right he was. As carefully put feet down to ground, all could feel was mud, warm, gloopy, deep mud. Lovely. Planted legs in it and they held firm. Completely relaxed body and the mud still held me upright...brilliant! Stayed like that for 10mins, just enjoying the feel of yummy mud. Tried to wipe it all over body, but of course it didn't stick because body was too wet and water
just kept washing it right off. Had to follow step number 2. Scooped up clumps of the warm mud and dumped it on swamp banking. Got loads of it, dumping it to form a huge mound. Then came step number 3, climbed out of the pool and began slopping the mud all over our bodies.
Covered ourselves head to toe, bikini, hair, ears...even mouth. Only part of body that did not receive a good dousing of mud = eyes. Did each others backs to make sure they were covered too. After 10mins, we were completely black and completely unrecognisable. Wasn't a thin layer of mud, was a thick layer of new skin. Awesome. Strummed over to a spot in sun mummy style and spread body ready for drying. Couldn't see what I looked like, but if was anything like Deb and family standing next to me, was pretty cool.
Drying process was not a quick one and was nothing we could do to speed it up, so chatted to pass the time. We chatted until it was no longer possible, until the sun had started to break through the mud layers and harden them up. Then, it was
impossible to talk, because the mud stiffened against our skin and slowly reduced the amount of movement viable. The once black gooey mud had now turned grey and hardened to look exactly like elephant skin, wrinkly, but not soft. The family headed off because they had another tour to catch, but we remained in our sunny spot, determined to dry fully. 30mins later, we were fully crisped. Could no longer move any part of face - talking only possible that with tongues, not lips - and even walking was tough. Tried to get some photos, but as hard as I tried, I could not get my face to smile. Even when I thought I was smiling, it really felt like I was, I still wasn't...I still looked like a trout frowning. I wonder if this is what botox feels like?
Made our way back to swamp and began the washing off process. It should have felt amazing, invigorating, but it was actually quite painful...especially in parts of body with hair. Had to scrub and dunk body several times and even then more than half of it remained stubbornly in hair and ears. Did what we could, then got out
and headed for the 'nice' non-swamp pool = the hot pool. Wow, that name was 100% spot on...that pool was hot...way too hot. Eased in but the water was passed a comfortable temperature, it was hot bath temperature in England on a rainy day, not washing off temperature in Fiji 30degrees sunshine. Did a quick wash routine, but it was too unbearable, so got out as quick as could, mud still clumped along body. Hope could get a shower back at hostel? Otherwise would be flying to Fiji half human half elephant.
Collected our things, got back into taxi and started bumpy journey to hostel. Knew an argument would be coming and as got close to hostel, it did. Our voucher said that we had $70 to pay for whole trip. Both thought this was entirely reasonable until got to mud pools and found that entry fee was only $10, leaving $60 for the taxi. No way! Was only a 15min journey. Made all these points clear to driver, who then rang Raneal (booking agent) and put me on phone. Continued to have this argument with Raneal, who claimed we were paying for the 'quality of the roads' -
ha...all the roads are like that in Fiji! - and the fact that the driver waited for us - something we didn't need him to do anyway! Continued in quite a heated manner until agreed to pay the correct and still ridiculously expensive $40 each. Wish had just organised it ourselves!
Stomped into hostel then and went for shower. Needed to look more human. Took a lot more scrubbing - must have removed a lot of skin today - and still didn't get it all out of ears. Put plane clothes on then - have one trusy outfit = the well used linen trousers - and headed into town to use cheap internet for last time. Really pleased that the good internet shop was open this time and spent hours trying to catch up on diabolical blog. 1 step forward, 2 steps back. Made our last trip to Bread Kitchen for cheesy bread - do love Bread Kitchen - then headed back to hostel at 4:30pm. Still had some time to kill before flight. Wrote last postcards - hopefully will be a postbox in airport - then ordered dinner = pizza. For the first time in life, tried an hawaiian pizza. There are hardly any foods I don't like - as you probably know if you've read any of this - but I've never been a sweet and savoury mixed kind of girl. That's another thing that has changed about me on this trip. I've tried lots of pineapple in curries, sweet and sour, raisons with chicken, and it's all been alright. Next step = sweet stuff on pizza. Actually, I didn't mind it at all. Maybe not my favourite topping, but definitely edible. Pizza itself wasn't so good because base was like a door wedge, but it filled a hole.
Checked packing for last time and then realised all too late that we hadn't even booked a place to stay in Hawaii. We were arriving really early in the morning and had nowhere to go. Had both totally forgot to find somewhere to stay. Getting a little too lax these days! Would have to hope for best now, only 5mins until taxi came. It came right on time at 7pm and we climbed in ready for our 9:30 flight. Only a 5min drive to airport and walked in to a nearly empty check in queue = cool. Not so cool that as we got to front of queue an airport lady approached us to check we had applied for a Visa Waiver. A visa what? Obvioulsy we hadn’t, had never even heard of one. Is apparently a new rule brought in by America where you have to apply for a waiver to say that you don’t need a visa. It might just be me, but that is totally stupid! They brought into effect in January and we were already travelling by that point, so her words instantly sent us into panic.
“You can’t fly into America without a Visa Waiver. Go and apply for one now at this web address” said the lady, pointing to a random and long web address.
“Are you kidding? One, we are supposed to be flying in just over an hours time; we don’t have time to be messing around on the computer. Two, we would have no clue what we were doing even if did get online...and 3...there’s no way I can remember a web address that long off the top of me head”.
Seeing the hysteria set in, she ushered us out of the queue and towards an internet stand. We had to buy a ridiculously expensive $10 card for 100mins even though only needed 15 and then the lady pretty much took over. She typed in the web address, and she also illegally filled in the form for us, we just read out our details to her. She was a much quicker typer than us and airport computers are fidley. She even helped us lie about an onwards address. We didn´t even know the name of any hostels to lie on form, and after a few minutes brainstorming, I remembered The Hilton. “There’s got to be a Hilton there...they’re everywhere!” Ha...totally laughable that we would ever be staying anywhere near as good as the Hilton...we were just happy with a bed and clean sheets! Took 20mins to enter all the ridiculous information and at the end of it, we got a long number each and confirmation that we didn’t need a visa. What a joke! Rushed to check in then, went through security and had 45mins to wonder round. Had a last bit of money to spend. Found a cheap necklace that had seen and wanted before, but other than that, was nothing. Ended up changing $17 Fijian with money man to receive $7 measley American.
Used 10 of the 100 internet mins to look at hostels in Honolulu, but didn´t end up booking one anyway, was time to get on plane. Got our usual seats at the back and settled in really tired. Nearly fell asleep before take off, but popping ears always wakes me up. Dozing as food and drinks came round and even though not hungry, still squeezed in the chicken dinner and dessert and orange and water. Time for sleep then. Closed eyes and prepared for off, but as opened them for a split second, caught the beginning of a new film coming on...Australia. Love that film; knew instantly that there would be no sleep for me on this flight. Was already midnight, but still spent the next 2 and a half hours ensconsed in Australia. Brilliant film. For the final time, when film finished, shut stinging eyes to sleep. Just 30mins later an announcement came through plane... “We will begin our descent in 30mins”. Bye bye sleep...welcome to Hawaii.