10 October 2013
Today is Fiji Independence Day, so it's a government holiday here in Fiji, with celebrations going on all over the country.
We caught the
bus from Nadi to Suva, so we ended up not seeing any of the parades, or
anything other than flags flying, people wearing shirts based on the
flags, and a few small towns having festivities. Oh, and fireworks for
sale at the supermarket, and some firecrackers going off in the streets
around our hotel.
bus - I almost don't even know how to explain the bus. First, we
bought the tickets, and waited. And waited. Finally a huge bus showed
up at the station, and everyone crowded around, pushing and shoving,
like the subway in New York or Tokyo or almost anywhere. (Except maybe
in London.) Anyway, by the time we got on the bus, there weren't two
seats available next to each other. I climbed over an old man who
assured me the seat by the window was available (but he wouldn't stand
in the aisle to let me in easily) - Richard took the aisle seat in the
row in front. We were on the side of the bus with three seats. So the
old man proceeds to act as my tour guide, and tells me about each
village we pass, or resort, or whatever. Except he has a very strong
accent, I think East Indian, and I can only understand part of what he
says. Some of the time I had zero clue what he was saying, but I'd nod
and say "Oh, okay" as if I understood.
in this bus crammed with Fijians, a few of East Indian descent but most
being native Fijians, we are "treated" to a Bollywood movie - screen up
front, sound broadcast throughout the bus. In some Indian language, I
really don't know what. With English subtitles, but I was nearly in the
back of the bus and I couldn't read it most of the time. It was a
confusing romance/musical/drama/slapstick comedy/kung fu movie with
lavish costume changes in the midst of the music and dance numbers. I think
the basic plot was boy and brother steal money from some bad guys, they
fall in love with two girls who might (or might not) be sisters, in the
end the father (or girls' father? or someone's uncle?) pays money to
the bad guys to make the problem go away. In the middle, there was a
song and dance with footballs. Then another song and dance with eggs.
See what I mean about confusing? I really couldn't figure out how
things went together, it left me pretty baffled.
there was an adorable little girl on the bus, of Indian descent, who
was more interested in the other passengers than this very odd movie.
Oh, I should
add here that this is the 43rd Fiji Independence Day - the country
became independent from Great Britain in 1970. There have been major
problems with ethnic tension between the indigenous Fijians and the
Indians who have been living here for several generations. There were a
few coups, the most recent being in 2000, when the Fijian political
party and military ousted the country's first Indo-Fijian leader (who
was elected by the Indian majority at that time) - and the military
government passed legislation decreeing that only indigenous Fijians can
hold political office. I can sort of understand, because the Fijians
were under British rule for a long time, and then, after a short time of
independence, then found themselves a minority and with a leader of the
ethnic majority (who, let's face it, could be seen as part of the
British Commonwealth even though India has its own history of fighting
British oppression). Anyway, it's a long and complicated situation,
with no easy answers, and the current law means the military leaders are
in control; even though elections are coming up in six months or so,
everyone expects the current leader to win the election. (And, if you look at the flag, there's the Union Jack in one corner, just like Australian and New Zealand flags. British ties are difficult to sever.)
- given all that abbreviated history, I thought it quite odd that this
bus full of Fijians and a few Indo-Fijians was watching this bizarre
well. The countryside was interesting, with flat areas around Nadi
giving way to hills as we headed east. Lots of rivers, some small
villages, a few larger towns, the occasional farm (sugar cane, coconut,
and banana mostly), and a bunch of resorts were here along the Coral
Coast. And of course glimpses of the ocean (okay, the Coral Sea) with
beautiful beaches. And tourists at the resorts.
old man tour guide got off the bus at one of the large towns, so I
didn't get the commentary for the rest of the trip. It was interesting
to note that we didn't see pigs, the way we did in Samoa - there were
occasional small herds of cows, and isolated goats. No sheep, I guess
the climate is too hot for woolly sheep.
was very grey and rainy after a while, so I couldn't get any more
photos. We finally, after nearly four hours, arrived in Suva, grabbed a
taxi, and headed to our hotel - which actually is a "serviced
apartment" - we don't have a full kitchen (just electric kettle and a
fridge), but have a large room with a lounge kind of couch, a few
chairs, a queen bed, and full bathroom. Plus a balcony. We're right in
town, and will explore tomorrow, when it quits raining and the wild
wind dies down. And our stomachs settle after the bus ride.
We had Chinese takeway for dinner (which the lovely manager drove out to pick up for us, how nice is that kind of service!) - and will see what tomorrow brings!