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Once Around The Sun

56549 km


I was full of doubts when leaving that godless yellow catamaran at the island of Waya. I've put our faith into the hands of a complete stranger. At first it was the staff of the Octopus Resort who's been meeting us on the beach, but I knew that these people are from the village where we are about to move in. If I haven't mention his yet then you should know that Fijians are the most friendly people. So friendly that can make a unsuspecting European more than suspicious. I'm not saying that you should trust everybody blindly, but I definitely recommend everybody to immerse themselves in the hospitality. Stay open minded and everything will be great!

So here we are waiting for our host to get us from the resort. It is Sunday and we have arrived in the midst of a church ceremony. We wait. Jola and Joe turned up not much later and helped us carry our backpacks across the hill to the village. Both boys are young and fit so we've surrendered to their help. On the way we've met many kids heading for the school. Boarding school on the other side of the island. They will take a boat from the resort side where the sea is calmer. We didn't know that then, but the first adventure our host had for us was this journey to the boarding school. Small boat on a rough sea about an hour each way. It was scary at times, choppy water and small but fast boat. We have made friends with many kids from 'our' family and I've promised to build them a check board by the time they return on Friday. But that's for later...

Mr Ame greeted us on the front of his house and with one strict look he reminded me that we shouldn't be wearing a hat in the village. Yes, the rule goes: no hats or sunglasses within the village. I've tried to put things right with an apology. Mr Ame introduced us his clan and informed us that we can call him 'Uncle Ame'. Everybody calls him that. After some short formalities and some snacks we are told that if we wish so we can escort the kids to school. And that's how we ended up on that school boat. Monday's in the village are clean up days and so we head to where the school and kindergarten used to be. Yes, used to. Cyclone Winston swept through South Pacific in February. Fortunately did not cause too much damage to the village, but the school is one of the buildings that was badly damaged. Along with a few houses on the beachfront. So we cleaned the rumbles whole morning. The villagers are not used to tourists staying in the village, let alone seeing one putting clumsy hands on stuff. I suspect the villagers shot some jokes towards uncle Ame. But teasing is big part of any culture, and since I didn't understand I didn't care too much. The girls made us refreshment drinks not long after we have started and not much after refreshments we have called it a day. Can't work in the heat of the day, right?! So that was Monday morning, cleaning day. In the afternoon there is a market set up for the tourists from the resort along with a traditional dance performance and a short Kava session. Tuesday, we are told, is a prayer day and we are not allowed to leave the house until the last bell. Around noon. Women, men, elders, mothers, teenagers, kids and other groups take turns in the church for a customised mess. Apparently this is a new tradition from a few decades ago, when thanks to the devoted prayers of the villagers, some kind of virus spared the village of fatalities, while took huge tolls everywhere around. Ever since Tuesday is a prayer day. On the last bell uncle Ame tells us that his nephew will take us for a hike. Since Jola didn't seem to show any concerns of going barefoot I have decided to do so myself. I don't want to brag about it too much, but we have scaled the mountain above the village and apparently I was the first non native going up barefoot. No bragging, just impressed myself... and promised that will never again do such thing. It was painful. On Wednesday aunty Marry celebrated her birthday with a nice family dinner and a numbing very long Kava session lasting to the morning. Thursday is again a market day but this time without Kava session and instead of dance performance it is the kindergarten that's in charge of entertainment. Later in the day Majka and myself were taken by surprise to Nova Beach where an awesome picnic took place. Two of the men jumped over board from the boat and went spear fishing, while the ladies built a shelter and collected some shells. It was one of the simplest and best foods I've ever eaten. The ingredients: fish from the sea, water from the sea, lime juice and chilli. Fish cleaned and grilled on ashes then while still hot marinated in a limey seawater with chillies. De-Li-Cious! Probably just because I've peed in that same waters a several times that day. And the days before… But jokes aside, seriously delicious. Friday is the day when school kids are coming home for the weekend, so it was about time to start working on that promised chessboard. Uncle Ame gifted one of those bed table things that you serve breakfast in bed on. I drew the chessboard on top of it with a permanent marker that Majka luckily found in her backpack. Pieces were the tops of plastic bottles. The game was quite a success. Felt good to get something engaging and yet so simple to those kids. Saturday I've decided to walk over to the resort and get some diving done. Two tank diving and one of the villagers was my dive master, so yet again I was in the hands of my hosts. On my second dive, dive number 13, I even had an emergency surfacing as my tank started leaking air. Nothing major, but got the heart beating a little faster...

Sunday came too fast and it was time to leave the village behind. We have helped uncle Ame load his boat and watched hem to leave for the market. We have still had time for a walk through the the village and later went snorkelling to the resort side of the island where the Yasawa flyer picked us up 2 hours behind the schedule. It was somehow heartbreaking to leave the village. There was not much of a comfort in the simple village life. We have eaten what people of Nalauwaki did, shared the same conditions and chased the same cockroaches. Nothing like a Fiji resort experience, thanks god! Instead a brief glimpse into life as is... Thank you Nalauwaki, thank you beautiful people. One of the best things that happened to us on the road...


​© 2022 by JAN ROCKAR

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