Drinking Kava & More Fiji Time!

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Days 207-211 – Tuesday-Saturday November 13-17 – Yasawa Islands, Fiji

The food served at the resorts on the Yasawa Islands seems to be similar to what the locals eat and is always dictated by what is available during the current day.  During our stay, most breakfasts included oatmeal and one of a combination of the five fruits that can be found on the island. (Coconut, Mango, Papaya, Pineapple & Watermelon)  At the Sunset Waya, also included was a delicious piece (or 3) of home made bread with every meal.  On most days lunch and dinner consisted of a meat dish, usually a fish or chicken curry with white rice.  After four days at Adi’s Place we were a bit tired of their cuisine (most dishes were repeated at least once during our time) and felt ready to see what Sunset Waya had to offer.

The boat from Sunset Waya came to pick us up on Tuesday morning as promised.  Before departing, we headed over to the ladies who run Adi’s Place and said thank you and goodbye.  We could tell they were not happy to lose guests to their competition on the other side of the island, but they were friendly enough.  Upon arriving at Sunset Waya we were greeted by a band of men playing various instruments and singing a welcome song.  It certainly felt like a much different place.

Adi’s Place is run primarily by two women who clean the rooms and make all of the food.  Adi spends most of her time on the main land and leaves the hard work to others from the village.  The two ladies are so overworked that it shows through at times, making for an uncomfortable experience.  Sunset Waya seemed to be completely the opposite as it is owned by another village on the island and it seems that almost everyone from the village works there.  The women take care of the food, while the young men handle the activities and the elders sit around and drink kava late into the night.

Our room at Adi’s place was very basic and we had to use the shared bathroom facilities there.  When we arrived at Sunset, it was a surprise to see that our bure had its own bathroom.  While it wasn’t much, this was a very nice touch.  We also noticed that the food seemed a little better.  Our first lunch at Sunset Waya was a combination of fried fish and rice that was very tasty.  At Sunset, lunch is the only meal served by the plate as breakfast and dinner are served buffet style.

The Sunset Waya also differed in that they offered a variety of activities, although most were not free.  I have to admit that even though we had already spent four days on the island, we were still looking to recharge and spent most of the day on Tuesday lying on the hammocks.  After dinner Tuesday night some of the men put on an incredible show with sword and fire dances.  They even had the guests participate at one point and Jasmine enjoyed every bit of it!  Following the entertainment, we were blessed with the opportunity to take place in a kava ceremony.

It was just after dinner when the manager of the resort John asked me if we wanted to stick around to drink kava.  Of course I said yes and Jasmine and I put Shawn Reece to bed in our bure so that we could both participate.  The Kava ceremony finally started about thirty minutes after the entertainment with a large group of guests and local men sitting in a circle.  John chose me to be the chief which basically meant that I got to drink first.  Before anyone drinks, they must say BULA and the group follows with the same.  Drinking kava is a communal and bonding activity for Fijian men and is practiced in most places in the country.  After I started things off, one by one everyone in the circle took their turn at drinking the kava.  Between rounds we usually took five minutes or so before the whole thing started all over again.  Kava looks and tastes like muddy water and is supposed to have some side effects, like numbness around the mouth and fatigue, but we didn’t feel any.  It took nearly two hours before the group had gone through two big bowls of Kava and the ceremony was done.  It was a fascinating experience.

I want to tell you that Wednesday was a more active day, but I can’t.  Once again we decided to take it easy, but come afternoon both Jasmine and I participated in a volleyball game where all of the locals, who obviously play every day, made us look like fools.  Ok, they made me look like a fool.  During the whole game, a four year old girl who is John’s grand daughter, took to harassing Shawn Reece.  She had been interested in him from the start and he did his best to humor her, but clearly felt uncomfortable.

By Thursday we were out of cash and given that the resort didn’t accept plastic and there is no ATM out on the Yasawa islands, we were forced to head back to the mainland.  The flyer comes to Waya at 3:00pm on its way back to the mainland, so we had some time to enjoy ourselves before leaving.  Shortly after breakfast I grabbed a snorkel and mask and began swimming off the coast of the resort.  It didn’t take long for me to find a reef to explore.  I spent around an hour in the choppy water before swimming back to Sunset to get Shawn Reece.  Luckily the resort had gear for kids and I was able to show Shawn Reece his first coral reef.  He hasn’t stopped talking about it since.

Come 3:00pm the same men that welcomed us two days earlier sang goodbye.  At the same time, Shawn Reece’s new little friend also tried to say goodbye with a hug, but he wasn’t having it.  Of course, five minutes before the boat showed up, rain started to come down in droves.  The five minute transfer out to the flyer was wet, but once on board we spent the rest of the trip indoors and stayed dry.

At Sunset Waya we met two couples (1 German & 1 Dutch) who were returning to the mainland at the same time as us.  We filled them in on Sunseekers and told them we were going to stay there that night and what the prices were.  They were interested and when we got off the flyer the seven of us caught a taxi to the hotel.  Once again, the people at Sunseekers were happy to see us and very friendly.  They even upgraded us to an air conditioned room for the already discounted price of a standard room!

We had originally wanted to spend Thursday night out on the Yasawas, so that we wouldn’t have an extra day in Nadi, but as I mentioned previously we ran out of cash.  This unfortunate fact left us with all day Friday and Saturday in a town that we didn’t really care for.  On Friday we spent some time catching up on the world via the internet and Shawn Reece and I took an hour long walk out of town to enjoy a burger at McDonalds.

On Saturday we planned to visit some gardens and mud pools outside of town, but unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate and rain kept us indoors most of the day.  By Saturday night we were excited about the prospect of our Sunday flight.  Ten days in Fiji had been plenty and we were chomping at the bit to get to New Zealand.
We woke up and headed to the airport on Sunday morning immediately after breakfast.  Just before getting in line to check in, I looked over at the screen and saw our flight number with the word CANCELLED next to it.  What did this mean?  The thought of being stuck in Nadi for another day wasn’t pleasant.  I guess you’ll have to come back next time to find out what happened!

The Coomer Family


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