Rambling Into the Interior of a Tropical Paradise, In Search of a Chief and a Village and Some Adventure
My first full day in Fiji, after that eventful night previously illustrated, I had cut the leggings off a pair of pants converting them into a good pair of shorts. The only pair of pants I set aside for wearing during this excursion. I had left my other luggage under lock and key in the Nadi airport. I felt freer than I could possibly imagine, only hauling around a little bag. And of course, I had that paper sack full of kava. This was a necessity for what I intended to do.
I had heard rumors that the people of a Fijian village were extraordinarily hospitable. That all that was required to be taken in as a guest among them, is some kava presented to their chief. And this was mostly only recommended as to encourage them in their generosity. Most naturally, they would take me in anyways. But this special powder from which a very soporific drink could be derived was aptly regarded to secure me as a friend of an entire village.
This was all that was needed. And such vague instructions, excited my imagination beyond anything that I could possibly throw myself into on these islands. So I grew resolute in my determination to visit a Fijian village. At first, I went about the town of Nadi heaping up invitations of Fijians beckoning me to accompany them to their villages. But some of these were far away, and a good deal of financial preparation was needed. So I settled on the most exciting way of travel, and that was to just randomly pick out a village without the acquaintance of a single person in it, and hop on a bus, and go.
Picking out an exact village, also proved to be a dilemma. I had no map nor travel guide for Fiji. I just wanted to go inside the island, and possibly up into the mountains. Passing by a travel agent post in town, I stole a glance at a map, and scanned a few villages noted there, remembering as best I could the strange Fijian vocabulary, and walked out entirely ignoring the conning solicitations of the agents. The same spills, "Want to go to the smaller islands? Stay in paradise?". These perfectly-pitched, tamed and organized package deals have all the other backpackers shuffling out a considerable fortune, thinking that they're seeing the real Fiji when the only Fijians they actually see are the boat drivers and the ladies who do their room service.
The name of the village that seemed the most intriguing was called Numulomulo or Mulomulo for short. It was not too far; but yet far enough and a considerable distance further into the interior of the island. So I hopped on a bus, leading to Mulomulo, wondering, if this was a Fijian village, why were there so many Indians on this same bus. But this explanation soon showed itself when one by one the large majority of the Indians stepped off, near their rolling sugar cane plantations, where their ancestors had worked for years and years. The bus tore its shoddy way through the dirt path which was a road, heading further into the mountains and brush of Viti Levu. Occasionally, we hauled over planks forming some type of bridge across tiny rivers or creeks. We even passed a mosque, a hindu temple, and a few small churches. But when we finally arrived in Mulomulo, the village of my whimsical destination, I saw a little hut turned into a village market with several houses around it. Some how I wasn't too impressed with the exoticness to induce me to exit the bus. And besides, there were still a number of indigeneous Fijians staying on the bus; there must be another village still further into the wilderness. I thought to myself, "I will stay on board til the very end of the bus route. There must be an interesting place there. And whatever place that may be, I will make do there." So I was content with the abrupt change in my travel plans. This last leg of the journey had only a few passengers boucing on the bus seats our arms hanging out where no windows were.
But before I could even have that bewildered moment of stepping off the bus, and seeing its rear bumper disappearing in the dust clouds of the road as it headed back to town, and before I could watch this standing all alone and asking to myself, "Now what?", a girl hopped over to where I sat and asked me in the sincerest fashion, where I was going. I told her that I was going to the last village on this route. (Hoping she didn't realize that I didn't even know the name of the village.) She said that she lived in that village and asked me how long I planned on staying. I told her a few days. Next, I told her my intentions of offering kava to the chief there. She said a few words to the large woman she had previously been sitting next to. The woman said some words and the girl said that I could stay with them for this was her mother. So as I exited the bus, finally, I already had two friends and a place to stay. Such is the hospitality of these people.
We walked into the village, the chickens running wild, the children running wilder, and the little village huts, sitting quaint and welcoming in the afternoon sun. A large river washed down in this slight gulley where the people at their appropriate times washed and bathed. I passed by a white sign nestled in the large branches of a tree, barely legible. "Yavuna Village", it read. "So this is the place that I've finally settled on.", I said to myself and what a remarkable stay it turned out to be....
To Be Continued....