Our last view of Vanua Levu til next time.
We were so lucky on the day we flew back to Nadi and then onto NZ as it was a perfectly clear day so the whole 1 hour flight we got amazingly beautiful views of the lagoon and reef and then the mountains on Nadi. It was a nice reward for arriving at Savusavu airport at 11.30am for our 12.30pm flight, only to be told that the plane had broken down and we might get to fly out at about 2pm. As 3pm approached and the engineer still hadn’t arrived from the neighbouring island to repair the plane, we had to start bargaining with the airport staff to let us on the next plane so that we didn’t miss our flight to NZ. After about half an hour of him calculating baggage weights, he informed us that we could go on the plane but that our luggage couldn’t. In the end we managed to bump some other people off the domestic flight, who had a later international flight than us, and we flew out of Savusavu just after 4pm and had the most beautiful flight of our lives.
We celebrated New Year’s day the way everyone on our beach in Savusavu did. We went down to the ‘blue lagoon’ the local swimming hole, even though it was only a 5 minute or so walk, it took us a long time as every group of Fijians we walked past wanted to offer us beer and food from their Lovo’s (the traditional style of cooking, slightly similar to a hangi), and just generally talk and hang out with us. Every group also wanted to have their photos taken with us, so it ended up taking an enjoyable hour or so to get there. It was a really fun day and a good way to spend our last full day in Savusavu.
On NYE we went into town and had a mega seafood feast, where Dre ate 6 lobsters, several fish and crabs, sea snails, kokoda (raw fish marinated in lime), and Karen managed much smaller portions of all of the above. We partied with the locals, mainly our new-found friends Adi (pronounced Andy) and her partner Geoff. Needless to say, Savusavu isn’t much of a happening place at the best of times, here is a pic of the only street just after midnight.
We still had a ball though and welcomed in 2009 in a great little town. It was quite special to be here and we have been so lucky to meet some amazing people and experience the wonderful culture here.
We started off the day out at the cafe that had become our regular Savusavu breakfast cafe. Mella, one of the Fijian waitresses that we had gotten to know over the days gave Dre a big piece of chocolate cake for his birthday, so that was a good start to the day!
We then went home and walked out to the snorkelling reef and saw heaps of brittle stars, and lots of reef fish. Also this is the edge of the reef, we thought it looked cool in the eerie mist.
We then headed back into the town for lunch and some drinks, by the time we got to dinner (where the Fijian lady came and collected us from the bar in classic Fiji style) we were both a bit worse for wear and Dre thought it was a good idea to order for dinner a milkshake, 3 entrees and a main…but he ate them all and it was exquisite food.
We have moved to our second accomodation now which is a private home on a coconut plantation. It’s quite a novelty to have electricity again (before we had solar power) and huge leather sofas and chairs and a huge house. The house is about 20 metres to the beach, with a few coconut palms between the house and the beach. It is situated on a snorkelling and a swimming lagoon.
This is Dre’s last photo while he is in his 20’s… tomorrow he enters his 4th decade when he turns 30 so we will party in town.
The sun setting over the coconut palms was really beautiful on our first night here, and we were really pleased we chose this as our second place to stay.
The view of our beach bure and the view from the house.
Well we definitely spent most of our time at Salt Lake Lodge lazing around. Which was exactly why we came here! These are a few pics that show some of our stay.
Dre with a massive moth and Karen floating in the river.
The pontoon where we spent most of our days.
Dre’s duty every morning was to scrape out a fresh coconut. Andy showed him how to do it on the first day and then we were able to have fresh coconut each day when we wanted it.
Savusavu is our nearest small town (although the largest on Vanua Levu) and we think it is probably very typical of a true Fijian small town. Everyone knows everyone else, we are always the only white people in town, and it’s very happy. All of the shops and supermarkets (ie tiny corner stores!) play loud music and sometimes it’s so loud we can’t actually hear each other speak. Mostly though the Fijians all just hang out sitting on the street or under the trees, and the Fijian Indians conduct the business. Everyone wears Bula, which means loud patterns and colours, (it seems the word ‘Bula’ can be used for lots of things – Bula for hello, Bulaaaa for wow, Bula clothes, bula for thank you, people say it for lots of reasons. It’s cool to have a word in a language that can mean almost anything!) The streets are hot and dusty, but everyone still wears their smiles and many people stop to introduce themselves and say hello.
Salt Lake Lodge is built just beside one of the local villages. It was quite fun to hear the villagers regularly all sitting around playing guitar and signing songs, and playing in the river. There is no electricity in this part of Fiji, so no one has TVs or any other mod cons. They just talk and sing and generally have a laid back happy time. We have been blown away by the Fijian culture… we have been many places where the people are friendly, but Fiji really takes friendliness and happiness to a whole new level. You can’t walk or drive past anyone without them waving and saying ‘Bula!’ with a big smile. Not just an off-hand smile either, their faces light up and they smile from their hearts. If you are walking along anyone you pass comes up and shakes your hand and introduces themself and tells you to have a good day. If you are in a bus or car and you pass any other car or people on the side of the road, without exception people wave and greet each other. That’s the reason we had wanted to come to this island, there are no tourists apart from one or two resorts, and other than that it’s completely authentic, as opposed to the hard-core touristy islands that most people go to. This is how the people really live – this part of Fiji has really touched our hearts; we have never been anywhere like this before.
We were very lucky to have lots of tropical fish in the river right on our doorstep. Most days we fed them coconut and just in the 10 days we were at Salt Lake Lodge the fish that fed off the pontoon got noticeably bigger. Andy also took us out to the reef when we wanted so we could go snorkelling out there which was really cool. Dre saw a big reef shark about 6ft long, and we saw many many corals and amazing fish. Unfortunately we also found out that our underwater camera that we bought just before this trip doesn’t take very good photos! We took lots of photos but most of them didn’t come out very well. The water was crystal clear but in many of the photos it looks a bit murky, and many of them were out of focus… what a shame but at least we got to see it all.
We went for a kayak to the Salt Lake, quite handy being on the tidal river as we decided to mainly use the current of the incoming tide to get to the lake and then kayak around the lake for a while, and then use the outgoing tide to get back to the lodge. Quite a fun and relaxing way to spend a couple of hours.