Shortly after our last flight of the day, ending in Taveuni, Fiji, our adventure in the beautiful country was ready to begin. We were immediately greeted at the airport by our enthusiastic local (Australian) guides Tobi, John and Anthony along with many smiles waves and “Bolas” (which means Hello) by the local residents. Right from the start we could tell this trip was going to be amazing solely from the energy and excitement of our guides. Even after two long flights everyone in our group was re-energized and prepared for there Fijian adventure.
Once we picked up our bags, the Taveuni team and the Wilderness Ventures group climbed into our first official Fijian vehicle and our bags were loaded into the following truck (or “UTE” as the guides called it) and we headed to our first campsite. After a short car ride we arrived at a beautiful farm campsite filled with fruit trees, a rock pool, volleyball net and most importantly, showers. Our Taveuni guides gave us a little while to settle in and get comfortable, which didn’t take long, then they introduced us to the farm owners (Kara and Uppie), who gave us a tour of their establishment along with freshly picked coconut treat for us to snack on while we walked. YUM!
Now its time for some adventure, we quickly changed into our bathing suits and drove to a our first activity which was kayaking. Everyone in the group couldn’t wait to jump into the crystal clear water, it was perfect. We paddled for about fourty-five minutes to a small rock island were we tied up our kayaks and our guide Saucy, showed us how to snorkel the shallow waters. Mingwei and Sam were the first to don masks and dive underwater looking for “Nemo” and other cool local fish, while others hung out on the rocks taking in the gorgeous scenery. Our paddle back to shore was adventure for sure, but the wind was no match for Jack who took the lead and led group strong and proud the whole way back to shore. We ended the day on at a hillside restaurant watching the sun dip below the beautiful Fijian waters.
Today we woke up early ate breakfast and with our masks and gloves we took to the ocean looking for the illusive crown of thorn (starfish). For our community service project we were taught how to capture this ocean creature and stop it from destroying the pretty coral the covered the Fijian shore. In only a short time our small group jumped in the water with eyes peeled looking for the target species. Dana manned the kayak, searching for the starfish from above and paddling to her fellow group members for relief from floating and searching. At the end of the crown of thorn search, our guides counted up the bounty and with excitement told us we had caught 42 crown of thorn starfish, which saved several hundred square feet of coral from being destroyed by the hungry creatures.
After lunch the group learned a lot about coral and the damages caused by storms hitting the shore line. Once well informed, the team took to the seas once again and planted buckets of fresh coral in the dead coral masses. The live coral will eventually restart the growth of the dead coral which was enough to jump start Zach who was determined to plant as much new coral as he could. We then cleaned up, put on our traditional dress which was a “SULU” (beach surong) and prepared ourselves for our first ever Lovo dinner (ground cooked pork and many local side dishes) and Meke dance, done by the village residents. Well practiced and very well prepared, we were fed and entertained by the village locals with a wonderful display of local traditions. After we presented the chief of the village with the precious “KAVA” root, we were welcomed with open arms and even asked to dance during the traditional ceremony. Callan was more than delighted to show off his moves as he was asked to dance by one of the villagers. During the drive home the car was filled with smiling faces and excited stories about their experience. This was another great day in Fiji.
Waterfalls, Waterfalls and More Waterfalls
Over the next two days the group had the awesome opportunity to travel to two different Fijian Community parks and lend in several community service projects. At the Buma Village park the group began the day with a short three mile hike up to the top of a hillside over look which led us to three breathtaking waterfalls the fell into a refreshing pool of cool relaxing water. After our hike back down the mountain we were greeted by the manager of the park office with a homemade lunch spread containing more local sides and entrees the kept our bellies happy and full for the rest of the afternoon. We then helped Ellia our tour guide and driver plant new trees by simply breaking off limbs from one tree and sticking it into to ground. Ellia told us that the soil in Taveuni is so fertile that everything grows no matter how you plant it, even limbs that break off trees and fall to the ground start growing again. This would explain why Taveuni is so lush and green. After we finished picking up trash Callan and Sam decided to take one last dip in the waterfall pool while the rest of the group gathered in the local field for games.
Little did we know how much of an athlete Dana was, she jumped right on the field with the local boys and showed them her tough girl Rugby skills, they were impressed to say the least. While Mingwei and Jack dominated the volleyball field Zach was caught up entertaining twenty or so local children who couldn’t leave his side the whole two hour visit.
The next day at the Lavena Village park, we took a four mile beach walk which led us to a variety of cool areas. We saw tan sand, black sand, big floating rocks, a fresh water stream which trickled into the ocean, a variety of cool mollusks and new shells, beautifully dense green paths a wonderful, scenic resting hut and lastly a few more breathtaking waterfalls. After we swam in the water for a few minutes we took an exciting boat ride to our last Taveuni waterfall which emptied directly into the ocean, it was amazing.
For our community service project Dana, Mingwei and Jack pounded the ceremonial KAVA root and walked the local village looking for plastic and trash, while Jack , Zach and Callan pounded nails and fixed a wall structure that had fallen over time. We were then thanked by the villagers with some tasty crepes, custard cakes and delicious lemon tea. Zach finished out the day preparing is very own pesto pasta dish which wowed the group and had them asking for more.
We knew it had to come eventually. After several mornings of fresh fruit and smiling faces from the camp ground residents and Taveuni guides, it was time to fly back to Nadi (pronounced: NANDI) for part two of our Fiji adventure. We woke up at six in the morning to pack and catch our plane for nine. About three dozen hugs and forty handshakes later we were off to Nadi on our hopper plane. Callan wasn’t ready to give up the village attire so he wears his sulu with pride daily, even in the big city. For two hours we shopped for food, ate some well deserved American cuisine and awaited our arrival to our next location. Club Oceanus is a beautiful location with a great dorm which we will luckily have to ourselves for the next four days. Complete with a dive shop and pool on the grounds, the team is excited to start their underwater adventure tomorrow. Dana, Callan, Sam and Mingwei will be hard at work passing tests for their PADI open water certification while Zach will be working on his advanced. As an almost professional diver Jack will be diving the beautiful waters of Fiji taking in the tropical coral and fish sightings while he cheers on his fellow group members.
That’s all for now. We are so excited for our many other adventures here in Fiji and can’t wait to keep you updated.
As they say here in Fiji ” MO CE” which mean Good Bye (for now), and see you soon.