my commute to university is about 45 minutes in one direction.
that means i have 90 minutes of potentially unused/lost time per day, which i’m currently spending organizing and processing photos…
i joined lorri, born and murray that day, and we went north to naqara/somosomo because we wanted to do a hike up to lake tagimaucia – taveuni’s biggest freshwater lake (sometimes spelled tagimoucea or tagimoucia).
we had lost track of weekdays, and just across the street from our motel, there seemed to be a festival going on – loud music for several hours, lots of fijians around, children running around on the street, …
it was sunday, and the festival was “just” regular service. there’s only one church (building) in town, so every confession celebrates mass at another time, resulting in a whole day of church service.
i couldn’t resist taking some digital souvenirs:
in the arms of the lord
[download] (mp3, 898KB)
[download] (mp3, 526KB)
[download] (mp3, 719KB)
back to the tagimaucia hike: in order to get permission to walk through private land, we had to perform sevusevu – strangers have to bring small gifts to the town’s chief to show their peaceful intentions.
our host (chottu of chottu’s motel, somosomo) was extremely nice and helpful, and arranged a meeting with the chief (who had 2 teeth left in his denture), procured the gifts, and translated for us.
travelguides usually recommend biscuits and sweets as gifts (for the kids), but since chottu took care of that, we didn’t have to worry. we ended up with a pack of cigarettes and kava-powder (for a slightly narcotic fijian drink), and the chief liked it.
as our guide, he sent his grandson niks with us.
the next morning, about 20 minutes after we started, it began to rain. it didn’t stop until we got back to the hotel. that day, i realized the true meaning of the word “rainforest”.
when we arrived at the lake, we still had to wade through swamp and what we call “schwingrasen” in german (quaking bog, floating mats of grasses) for 15 minutes, before we got to the actual open water-surface.
we were soaking already because of the weather, so it didn’t make much of a difference when we went to swim in the lake. :-)
one of the botanical specialties on taveuni is the tagimaucia flower (medinilla waterhousei), which only grows near lake tagimaucia and at a second spot somewhere in vanua levu. anthesis was already over, but we did find a few last signs of that beautiful flower. we also came by some orchids that had started blooming late, but most of the floral beauty was already withered. next time i go there, i’ll make sure it’s in november.
the following day, this is what we heard from about 05:30 through 9 am:
good way to start the day :-)
i still had a few days in matei after our ways parted again, and i went to check out lavena coastal walk and the lavoro waterfalls.
there are three busses a day that connect the villages on taveuni. i asked some lokals when the first bus of the day would leave, and they responded “the bus usually gets here between 9 and 10, but sometimes not before 11.” (keyword: fiji time)
if you’re looking for a real fijian experience, i would recommend going by bus: rough, unpaved roads, unglazed windows, and speakers inside, with music that i would describe as “typical old summer songs” (mr. president – happy people, whigfield – sexy eyes, …).
when there was a short rainfall, everybody on the bus helped pull down the tarpaulins…
on january 19th, i had my flight back to nadi. the plane *arrived* at matei airport 2 hours late, but nobody seemed to care (even about telling the passengers) – fiji time…
i left fiji that day at around 10pm, and arrived in los angeles on jan. 19th (!) around noon. crossing the dateline is cool! :-)