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.