15 October 2013
Suva has a great open air market, with various sections for cooked food, produce, fish and seafood, flowers (always a fave!), and a flea market with mostly clothing and where we were sent to find a tailor. I bought a sari, drew up the skirt I wanted (three-layer wrap around skirt, with a border using the edging on the sari), and left everything with the tailor. I picked it up today, and it worked out pretty well - though the lady didn't follow one part of my schematic, so one layer doesn't work - but I can fix it.
Anyway, we found a store with great views of the harbour, and all the hills of the highlands region. Most of the middle area of Fiji is tall hills and almost mountains, very very green. We've been travelling around along the southern coast, and then the NW islands - but looking across the harbour we can see those huge hills creating a beautiful vista.
The harbour has little cays and islands around the edges - some look like they're just floating on the water.
The big upcoming event seems to be Diwali. This is a Hindu festival, and a really big and important holiday.
In the last blog, I mentioned that Fiji is made up of the indigenous Melanesian people, and people from India. As suspected, most of the Indians were brought to Fiji as indentured servants by the British. The current Indo-Fijian population is descended from those servants, and they consider themselves Fijians, not Indians. In fact, only recently the government of Fiji finally passed legislation stating that the Fijians of Indian descent are to be considered, and called, Fijians - no longer using the term Indo-Fijians. However, there still are some laws limiting the powers of rights of the Fijians of Indian descent.
Anyway, the Hindu Fijians are getting ready for the big holiday of Diwali. This is a huge festival where people decorate their houses with lights, dress up in all kinds of extra fancy outfits, and apparently shoot off fireworks.
So the stores are full of all kinds of fireworks and firecrackers and who knows what.
The fireworks have names like "Romantic Cake" and "Garden in Spring" and "Desert at Night."
We bought a 7 shot cake - meaning it has seven separate things that look like dynamite, all linked with one fuse. They shoot off sparks and then a fire ball. I have no idea what the cake part is. But the directions say not to lean over the fireworks when you light them, and to run far away to watch it go off.
We're thinking the beach, at night, is probably the best place to set this thing off. While I stay far away, and Richard lights it and then runs.
Stores have "Happy Diwali" signs, as well as various decorations. And, my favorite, gorgeous displays of saris. Other kinds of Indian clothing, such as long dresses with leggings underneath, all in beautiful colors and lots of sequins and embroidery. I'm at the point where I want one of everything!
The Suva skyline (such as it is) is dotted with the occasional temple or mosque. I really liked this saffron coloured temple with domes and flags - so beautiful against the bright blue sky today.
This is a mosque school - some of the people of Indian descent are Muslim, and prefer to have separate schools for their children. There's a similar school in Nadi, with the same architecture - the windows and design along the open gallery is so Indian!
Even jewelry stores let you know who are the owners, who the store caters to, what kind of jewelry one will find inside. (I'm tempted to buy one of those pieces that sort of drape over the forehead, although I think it would look anachronistic on me.)
Funny story of the day - I was at the market and needed the ladies room. My buddy at the stand walked me over to show me where it was, and told me it was 20 cents. The man who was making little packets of toilet paper told her it is 50 cents, but he'd let me use the bathroom for 20 cents. He then went into the bathroom and checked the stalls, finding one he thought was appropriate for me. He showed me which one to use, I thanked him, he left, and I used the facilities. It just made me laugh, the way he showed me the primo potty! Such are the little odd events of travelling!
That and the no-smoking sign on the fireworks display were the highlights of this week! Well, and the lovely French restaurant down the road from our apartment hotel - yum!