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So, well a lot has happened in the last few days.
Tuesday: We left the gorgeous beachside tranquility to catch our ferry from the capital city Suva, only when we got there the ferry was fully booked. Only happens at Xmas apparently but hadn’t realised with many assurances the ferry would b no problem. Luckily we hadn’t traipsed into Suva via bus, we’d jammily got a ride in with the bloke who runs the Beachouse and a coupla people that worked there. So an entertaining coupla hours with one speeding ticket later, we discovered our rate booked a ticket for Thursday and they dropped us at a cheap hotel in Suva which we didnt question as he was the man in the know. A funny, almost wonka-esque Australian who Mark is very jealous of because ge wants his job/life!
So the South Seas hotel was unbelievably cheap. Seemed pleasant enough until we were shown to our cell, I mean room. It was down a narrow corridor with big old school (possibly literally) doors. The room was more Ryan sparse. The bed was in middle of room and there was an odd built in unit with hooks but not a thing else. It was like they’d taken out anything u could hurt urself with. The hospital floors didn’t help – all the better for cleaning up the blood maybe? Gulp. The fan was positioned so it missed the wallaby about half a centimetre. The pillow smelt of stale toothpaste. Thank god I’d packed a pillowcase. We decided to head out into Suva while it was light as alcohol was only way we were gonna sleep through the night there!!
We were walking distance to town and my fantastic (if I do say so myself) sense of direction, got us quickly into town based on remembering things from our car journey there. Suva is a funny place. Lots of shops and a big cinema but not much in way of night life – restaurants or bars. We had a few beers and a Chinese (yes i know but there really wasnt much there) and got a taxi back with a man playing the loveliest, most relaxing music ever. We slept quite well considering and no one burst in with Victorian medical instruments as we had feared.
Next day, we began to feel much more comfortable in the hotel (if not the room). It’s funny how when you’re tired and somewhere new that it can seem way worse than it is. We did a bit of shopping – the cruises come into the port and apparently on that day the prices go up everywhere, luckily that wasn’t Wednesday. We did fall for a good con. This old guy chatted to us while we sheltered from the rain and said he knew us and asked where we were staying and when we said, he told us he was the security guard. Of course our sense of ‘we have been and touristy and ignored the local old man in the corner’ set in and we were apologetic. I was thinking that I didn’t think we had a security guard but I hadn’t ventured out much around the hotel. Anyhow, to cut to the chase we ended up following him to some store where they’d ‘do us a good price’. We didn’t give him any money, I guess he got from the shop keeper – it was all a pretty mild con, but a very good one I thought, preying on our sense of over-privelege. And I bought something cheap as chips that I wanted anyhow. We do need to step up our game and not be such easy targets though.
We bought some food in the supermarket for that night. I LOVE foreign supermarkets – they give an interesting insight into things you might not see otherwise.
We popped out to the best western around the corner for a couple of drinks and that was an experience in itself. It was a 60s style building with a water slide which was something of a death trap but which the kids, obviously, loved. Within 10 minutes of being there we were surrounded by a bunch of woman of various ages, singing some beautiful song, in what seemed like some kind of practises session. Turns out these were ladies from New Caledonia, which I’d half guessed due to the French speaking. A New Caledonian girl was marrying a Fijian guy and they were to be singing at the wedding. The old ladies in particular, were just having a ball, dancing around. Our entertainment after that came in the ratter large shape of fruit bats, sweeping between the trees.
We hung around the hotel most of the next day, careful not to drink so we felt 100% before our 14 hour ferry journey. We were definitely not relishing the prospect.
The ferry journey from hell……
So, it was never gonna b easy and am sure there is a lit worse out there but I think on the whole we should have thought about it more.
We 3 (by this time we had buddies up with a guy from the USA, Aaron) found ourselves seats on the wooden benches outside, figuring the stuffy plastic, plane like seating inside would be worse, bit that there were any left and definitely not enough room for our stuff.
So that’s were we sat, covered but not greatly sheltered for what ended up being 20 hours on the boat, 18 moving (just) and 2 hours waiting to leave. It was so busy there was no lying room, it was sleep sitting up or leaning slightly. An early rain storm meant we and our bags got quite wet and as evening turned to a cold night, we could add being frozen to our joyless experience. It was tough but it’s tolerable when you see an end in sight. The first 10 hours were ok. You just couldn’t think about it.
Over night it was easier to get pockets of sleep. Despite the person playing odd 70s tunes on their phone. Abba? Really?then the sun came out. Just water and more water. Then we finally reached Savu Savu, the 1st and only stop, and said goodbye to Aaron, we were pleases as the number of people reduced by at least 50% and it was only another hour or so onto our destination, Taveuni. Except it wasn’t. It took about 5 hours. I really can’t express how desperate we felt at this point. Oh, hadn’t I mentioned that pretty much the whole trip, the boat smelt of urine and the toilets were beyond rancid. I has managed to hold out about 12 hours before had to go in and try not to gag. So towards the end of the journey, add in some fish bones lying about the place from discarded lunches and … no I won’t go on … you can imagine. Big lesson in mind over matter. Mark made a friend, palo, in the last part of journey, a smiley lad of around 9 I would think. They would go off around the ferry and look at things. They didn’t really understand each other but it passed the time and was v sweet. We were bored so he must have been multiplied by 10. Speaking of which, I was amazed by how good the kids were – there was babies up to teens and they were just so tolerant. Very little crying let alone whinging.
I was practically crying and definitely whinging.
When we finally hit shore it of course took forever to dock. We wandered aimlessly looking for our ride, who luckily found us. Then once in the van, we headed for the hostel, 20 mins away, but this being Fiji we stopped off about 15 times and talked to various people – Mark and I were considering a massacre. Then we arrived at the hostel. I couldn’t remember the details of the place but had thought there was a bar. Nope. It’s on a lagoon but no beach. Our hearts sunk. I asked Mark if he was disappointed and he bluntly said yes. The lovely lady who runs the hostel took us to the shop to pick up some beer. We sat back down on the decking and looked at where we were. Again, tiredness (and in this case crazy, uber tiredness) had clouded everything and we’d focused on the negatives because ww just wanted it to be easy. This place, in fact, with eyes only a couple of hours later, is blooming awesome!!!!!!!!!!