Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Sustainable Fiji Travel Tales Part 2

Not too large, these planes are referred to as "flying pencils"?!
Next stop, small plane flight to Taveuni, the 3rd largest island of Fiji, aptly referred to as the Garden Island of Fiji.  There is a high rainfall average, and while we were there, it rained 3 of the 6 days.  We stayed in an eco-resort   “honeymoon cottage”, Lomani.  It boasts an incredible 180 degree view of Vanua Levu (2nd largest island) and Somosomo Straits.  The power is provided by solar panels, but given that it is still the Fijian winter (i.e less sunshine hours than summer), a very noisy generator provides additional power.  The wooden 2-roomed cottage is very appealing but at US$200 per night, a bit overpriced for a somewhat tired, shabby deteriorating once-was-amazing accommodation.  The beauty lies in the variety of tropical fruit available in the 2 acre garden.  We were able to pick our own breakfast fare: papaya, coconuts, (these were cut by a local Fijian boy, born to climb!), sugar cane and bananas.  There were young pineapples growing and sadly, we missed the mango season!!  There are 2 huge mango trees on the property.

Pot of Gold

Island Breakfast; papaya drizzled with lime juice, coconut meat and water, and banana.

Lomani's (meaning Love in Fijian) Infinity Pool
The spider we shared our outdoor shower with
The other beauty of this property is born of the fact that there is a local Fijian caretaker who collects you and takes care of your needs (including running the generator while you are out, if that’s possible).  He lives nearby in a communal farming settlement.  The locals live around the land and farm it communally, so food is freely available and able to be harvested as and when needed: cassava, taro (dalo), papaya, coconuts, sugarcane, pineapples, bananas and vegetables.  They “adopt” the Lomani guests and a free tour of the land and cooking of local food is a highlight.  We were fed cassava, taro and island spinach, with freshly squeezed coconut cream and lime juice. Delicious.  

On the Sunday we enjoyed a church service at Waiariki Catholic Church settlement.  The missionaries built an impressive towering church up on a hill, further creating an impressively towering presence.

The statues at Waiariki Catholic Church

The view from the church!

The Madonna
Whilst in the church, we sat cross-legged on cracked vinyl covering, with a sea of brightly coloured island-fabric-wearing locals.  Their Sunday Best.  I remembered all my childhood attendance of Sunday mass and recognised universal signs of boredom in all the island children having to sit for an hour or more, listening to the ramblings of a priest.  There was the face-dragging (when you run your hands down your face, pulling the skin downwards to create the Zombie-look), lizard-tongue-darting movements, convulsive leg-wiggling, compulsive body-bouncing, energising church-aerobics, glazing distant-staring catatonic states.  It’s the same signs, the world over!  And it must be the inner-Catholic in me – I absolutely adore religious iconology!  Whether it’s a Buddha head or a statue of Mother Mary.  I find myself drawn to them.  So, long after the service was over and everyone had disappeared, I was still snapping away at the statues, stain-glass windows and relief pictures adorning the walls (with permission, of course).

The beauty of a sculpture depicting mourning and aching of a mother for her deceased son
Another highlight of our Fijian adventures was meeting up with an old school buddy who I haven’t seen for nearly 30 years.  Thanks to FaceBook, I discovered she was living in Nadi, Fiji.  It felt like an instant connection – like we knew each other so darn well.  I had briefly wondered if we would have anything in common.  No worries, it was one of those Soul connections – instant familiar ground.  She is an art-loving gal, so we were like, hey, time is so short!  We had to drag ourselves away!  She gifted me an amazing book called Art, Doodle, Love.  It is a book to bring out your inner creativity.  I can’t wait to begin.  There is an exercise challenging you on each page – kinda like a colouring in book for adults!  Except there are no pics – only provocations on gorgeous background papers.  Thanks Sue!  I shall cherish it, along with memories of time together.
Old friends, new friends......
Then.  What were we thinking?  We decided to go for a walk in the Bouma National Forest to Lavena Falls (where "Return to Blue Lagoon" was filmed).  hours return.  Well, that's a whole other blog in itself, but suffice it to say - exercise or physical exertion has never been my forte.  This walk was part of an eco-social venture.  There is a small settlement at Lavena, who live and farm the land.  They are also charged with caring for the pristine natural environment.  They offer guided walks (3 hours for F$45), thus generating an income for the villagers.  Brilliant!
Our friendly guide, Bulli.

Bulli, who boasted a girlfriend from the Netherlands, who
visits him every year, for the past 3 years - picks a fresh snack
for the road!

Our favourite bird - a Fijian kingfisher.

No cropping or photo shopping, just my new camera!
(These are the best of many not-so-great shots!)
Eco-aware Travel Tips:
1.  2 recyclable shopping bags were invaluable (tuck up real small in a pouch).  We could use them for all our shopping excursions. 
2.  A good tip is also taking 2 take-away containers with you, as well as your own “spork” (spoon, fork and knife in one) wherever you go.  This alleviates the need for “takeaway” containers and disposable plastic cutlery.  Having forgotten them on 2 occasions, we were horrified to end up with polystyrene containers!  Eeek!  The worst!  They can’t even be brought home to be recycled (no such thing in Fiji).  
That made me feel a bit bad.  How many tourists end up dumping all their consumed meal containers and plastic water bottles when they go.  We should have to pay a garbage tax!! 
3.  Decide how to contribute to the local environment - many companies offer voluntourism - volunteering in organisations from orphanages to assisting in animal or habitat regeneration programmes.  Examples are International Volunteering Head Quarters or Volunteering for Peace Vietnam (taken from Good magazine, July/August issue).


No comments:

Post a Comment