Published: November 16th 2002November 16th 2002
Post card shot, and now made famous on the front page of travelblog :)
Vanja, Claire and I went to find some sunshine. The leaflet for Robinson Crusoe Island looked pretty good so I phoned. To get out to Robinson Crusoe Island, or Likura Island as its really called, we had to catch a bus to a police station in the middle of no where. The middle of no where was between Suva and Nadi, on the coral coast. Called Vatu Dradra (pronounced Vatu drandra), or translated, "red stone".
Waiting for the bus a truck stopped and the driver said he would take us there for $4 Fiji each, a little less than the bus and a lot quicker. So we took the ride, chatted with the driver, lives in Suva in his sister's house and drives from one side of the island to the other most days.
True to the description the police station was in the middle of nowhere, together with a supermarket and a school. There were no houses to be seen. We went over to the police station and the officer on duty said we could wait on a bench out of the sun in front of the station. Nice guy, chatted about life for a while, nurses earn
$15,000 Fiji a year - $7000 US, which is good money in Fiji. Vanja is a nurse, but decided that she could probably get more in Australia.
Eventually the van arrived, jumped in and rode the half hour to the river. Another half hour on a boat and we got to the island. The staff came out to the boat with guitars, and sang to welcome us in. Hello in Fijian is 'Bula' - we had to say it back as loud and strongly as we could, made us feel really welcome.
The island was a whole half mile long by a few hundred meters wide, bigger than Pigeon Caye, Utila
which was home to 1200 people. The island is covered in coconut palms and other Fijian bush plants, many of which have some kind of medicinal properties or value as food.
The traditional drink of Fiji is Kava, in the words of Ziggy one of the local guys working at the resort - "Kava is not an alcoholic drink, it's a narcotic drink". To make kava a bag full of the ground root is dunked and mangled in a large wooden bowl. It looks like someone
washing a pair of socks in a large wooden bowl. When the water takes on a milky colour the kava is ready. The effects of kava seem to be a slight numbing of the tongue - and after a huge amount (not me but some other guys), a sleepy feeling. The kava to be honest tastes earthy and mildly nasty, and for the limited effects seems hardly worth bothering with. In Fiji there are bars serving kava 24hrs a day. There is an export business set up to Europe and some controversy on the effects of kava on health, some say that it harms the liver, others argue that even if it is it is a lot less harmful than alcohol.
The main business of the Island is the day cruises from the large resorts on the mainland. Around 60 people come to the island for a days activities, traditional dancing, coconut husking, and kids activities. Around 4pm they all go back to the resorts. As a resident of the island activities are laid on in the evening, games, drinking and at the end of most evenings a beach bonfire with guitars and singing. I took along my little
Husking a Coconut
Actually looks pretty dangerous...
guitar and joined in with such hits as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight".
I learnt to husk brown coconuts in less than a minute, the technique is to push a sharp pointy stick into the softer end of the husk, twist the coconut and use the stick to lever the husk away from the nut. To open the nut its possible to hit the nut with a rock at the right point, and split it into two halves. Green coconuts are for drinking, the flesh is slimy, the milk however is really refreshing. Brown coconuts can be used for eating the flesh, drinking the milk and making cream of coconut milk.
After four days of relaxing and doing pretty much nothing I was ready to leave the island. Too much nothing isn't good for you, I personally get itchy feet, the desire to move on and find new adventures. Vanja and Claire both headed out to Australia within a day of each other - some more friends to look up in Australia.
Note: Added 18/07/03 - I know this isn't the real Robinson Crusoe Island. There is an official Robinson Crusoe Island just off the coast of Chille,
it was where Alexander Selkirk, the shipwrecked Scotsman whom Daniel Defoe based his fictional account on, spent four or five years. The operators of this island chose to call it this - not me! But I feel they are justified in using this name as Robinson Crusoe is FICTION! Now if it had been called Alexander Selkirk Island I might think differently.
Note: Added 23/06/04 - In case you've never read Robinson Crusoe - it's available free here
from the Gutenberg project.
There are more photos below