John and I woke up and relaxed by the bay while we waited for Breakfast. Our cook, Rosie, had been out all night in the village celebrating the Fijian New Year Season by drinking Kava and dancing. She still hadn’t slept yet! It definitely did NOT affect her cooking. I practiced the new ukulele songs John taught me and learned some new chords while Rosie made us buns with coconut milk, which were a cross between a biscuit and a dumpling. We also ate the best papaya yet and were given a brief lesson on the Fijian language.
We enjoyed some coffee and tea while chatting to Rosie about what the village was like and quickly agreed to join her that evening in the village for some Kava and dancing. If you don’t know, kava is a crop grown in the tropics of the Pacific that is muddled and combined with water and consumed as a beverage. Rosie, along with every other Fijian we met, said if you come to Fiji and don’t try kava, you have never been to Fiji. We definitely would have to have a try later that evening.
In the meantime, Jerry came up to us because we were playing the ukelele. He is a fairly quiet man but opened up immediately when he saw us playing. He got his own personal 3-stringed Fijian ukulele to show us and started playing and singing. It was such a fun time! Jerry also taught John a gorgeous new strum, which he soon perfected.
The kids and elders from the village came over because it was low tide and they were hunting for cockles. We met all the kids and really fell in love with a little girl named Milly who was so intrigued by us and was always smiling. I practiced my newly learned Fijian with my new little friend. My favorite saying was Sega na leqa, pronounced “Senga na Lenga” – “No Problem”. I played hopscotch on the beach with the kids and spent time chatting with Rosa’s Aunt Rebecca. She has an incredible knack for hunting down really large soft shell crabs, which she sells at Turtle Island for $15FJD/Kilo (approx $7 USD/kilo). One crab=approx 1.5 kilos. We would get to eat the crabs for dinner!
We had been told that there was a more clear hiking path to a large cross at the top of a hill by the village. We decked ourselves out in hiking shoes, long sleeves and long pants for me (I learned my lesson after the last jungle trek!) and filled our water bottles. Since it was high tide, Jerry asked Tina if she could take us to the village the back way, through the jungle, rather than walking on the beach. She showed us the way in shorts and a t-shirt, completely barefoot. Wow, did I feel stupid with my hiking shoes and long pants! She had some tough feet.
We crossed through mango trees, over tree bridges and crab homes, tall grass, and coconut trees for about 10 minutes before we reached the village. We ran into Tina’s cousin, said some bulas, and were lead to the start of the hike. The path was dense with a lot of jungle vegetation and tall grass. John rerouted a few spider webs so we could pass and we made it to a plantation on a hill. Luckily I remembered a map Jerry drew in the sand the day before and we correctly took a right at the plantation. We continued up a very steep hill which would never exist in Colorado. That hill would have switchbacks all over it if it was in the states. As we carefully climbed the steep hill, we paused every now and then to look over our shoulders to what was by far, the best view so far. We got to the top and tried to take it all in. The view was more than breath taking. We took some photos and marveled at this exotic land called Fiji for some time before making our way back down the steep terrain.
On our way back down, we saw several large crabs and I let out a shriek when I accidentally kicked a rock, assuming it was one of the large mud crabs. We both laughed and I hoped Rosa and the family didn’t hear my silly overreaction. We returned safely to our bure where I removed about 100 stickers from my pants. I was no longer feeling stupid about the long pants decision!
We ate the crabs while we got acquainted with some new guest arrivals from Germany. We had a good laugh with them because they had never eaten a crab before. They were in luck, two seasoned Maryland crab eaters at their service! By the end of dinner, they agreed to go with us into the village for some kava and dancing!