Yesterday, I took a day off from blogging, and researching the effects of beverage plastic PET bottles and other plastics on the environment here in Fiji. I have a wonderful friend who sent some stuff from home with her friends to Fiji. My friend collected up some old footy jerseys, footy socks, some solar lights (thanks, and if anyone else is coming to Fiji, please ask your friends to pack a couple of sets of solar fairy lights in their luggage and I will collect from wherever they are!). Solar fairy lights give enough light to eat, do evening stuff as a family and stay on all night until dawn. They seem to stay lit a lot longer than the other types of solar bulbs for some reason.
Anyway, so I arranged to meet Katie and Tony Hiller who run the Mount Glorious Butterflies near Brisbane, Australia (www.mountgloriousbutterflies.com)
They arrived a week ago and leave today so yesterday was my last chance. With one thing and another (got my wallet stolen, no cash, no cards, no transport) I kept putting off our meeting. Yesterday, thinking I had money in the bank, I got a bus to Nakasi. I tried my ATM, but no joy. On to Suva. I was lucky enough to get in a return cab for $1.50 (same price as the bus) and met a fellow passenger who is the team manager for the Davuilevu Knights Rugby Under 16s League Club. Now my son can finally go to footy training! The club is affiliated with the Newcastle Knights in Australia, but they are still waiting on training jerseys, balls and other equipment. Apparently the old contact has now left, and things seem to have broken down. If you have any spare football jerseys, boots of any size, shorts, socks, balls, pumps, or spikes, let me know and I can arrange to get them here. There are very few clubs outside of schools, unlike in Australia, and this is the first one I have found. I gave the guy my number, he said he would call. I got to Suva and they guy (Andrew) offered to walk me to the minivan stand, but I told him that I was ok, as am used to finding my way around in Suva.
The cab dropped us off outside the Flea Market. From there I had planned to go to the ATM, get out some cash, buy them a gift as a momento of Fiji, and then travel to the Fiji Hideway Resort on the Coral Coast by minibus to meet my friends. Well, I had made a boo boo on my internet banking, so when I got to Suva, no cash. I only had $25 in my wallet and the return fare to meet them and get home was $23. I decided to make the trip.
I got in the Suva to Sigatoka minibus for $10 and enjoyed the ride. As always, I was constantly thinking about the mangrove reclamation (a euphamism they use here for the destruction of the mangroves where they cut, then burn, then cover in hessian or similar, then cover with dirt, then build industrial areas) outside of Lami, the Coca Cola, Fiji Water and their other brands and the thousands of bottles on the side of the road, in the creeks and river mouths etc, but decided to give my mind a rest and let some thoughts collect.
For Katie and Tony, on their first overseas trip in nine years, they were literally forced to relax. Tony did so much at home before they left that he gave himself acute sciatica and could not go anywhere at all. They did make one trip to the Kula Bird Park which they really enjoyed as Tony breeds and studies birds and Katie is an insect lover who breeds butterflies. Luckily, they were in the perfect place to relax – a resort in Fiji! Katie joked about the need for a wheelchair, but in Fiji, I know that any of the Fijian lads who work at the hotel would have happily carried Tony where ever he wanted to go – life is just like that here. We want every one to be happy – really and truly.
I had the nicest day with Katie and Tony, who are on their way to Nadi airport right now. By the time they get home, they will be on the internet – as promised! What an interesting couple. Katie was born in Aruba, and when she was growing up, she remembers there being only one hotel which the locals called “The New Hotel”. Now apparently, Aruba is a tourist mecca. Katie then moved to the mainland USA and then went traveling. Forty years ago almost to the day she sailed on a yacht to Fiji and landed near Suva. She loves diving, and still had a hankering to see and dive the Great Barrier Reef, so she traveled to Australia. Tony, who used to work at a Zoo in the UK (the name escapes me but here is a list of UK Zoos, and Tony might fill in. He says that the Zoo he used to work at has really come ahead since he has left – I pointed out that that might not be a coincidence! Anyway, Tony, forty years ago had gone to Heron Island to collect samples of insects or birds, and as he tells it, he collected an extra specimen, Katie.
They are a young and vibrant couple, Tony is 71 and Katie is 62. We talked and talked about rubbish in Fiji, rubbish in the ocean, country life, travel plans for the future, their butterfly and bird park, and my obsession with plastic trash. I even stopped and asked the hotel garbage collector staff what happens with their waste. They tell me that at the Fiji Hideaway, all rubbish is taken to the back area and sorted into plastic bottles, glass wine bottles, cans and paper, then the rest, and the recyclables collected by a company called
Waste Recyclers(Fiji) Ltd
Phone: 336 1055/992 1056 (Lot 26 Wailada Subdivision, Lami),
This has to be a good thing! Suva City Council states that
A total of 1,954,120 kg of rubbish(house garbage, green waste, general refuse) were disposed of at Naboro Landfill. Source: http://suvacity.org/home-composting/
It is not clear whether this is a yearly for 2012, or a total figure since the landfill was established.
I finally tore myself away at about 5pm, to give Katie and Tony some time to enjoy their last night in Fiji, and went across the road to wait for a minivan. I met a taxi driver who hailed a truckdriver friend. The driver was not going to Suva, but was going all the way to 9miles, which is a $2 taxi fare from my house! What a great trip. Along the way, other passengers got in and out, and we all talked. In Fiji, everyone is happy to talk. Everyone wants to know about you, and wants to share information about themselves.
Katie was mentioning that at the resort, everyone says “Bula” which is kind of loosely translated as “Hello” but in a happy way, sort of “Happy Hello”. I think she wondered whether it was just a tourist thing, but it really is genuine. Fijians as a nation (including all Fijians, whether iTaukei, Indo-Fijians, or the quaintly named “Others”) are to me at least, very genuine.
Sitting up in the cabin of the truck, I had a great view, a seat to myself, with my big bag of stuff from home stored comfortably at the back!
On arriving back in 9miles, the driver, Deo, gave me his number and invited me to visit at home with his wife. His supervisor, Suresh, immediately got my bag, helped me jump out of the truck (I literally did have to jump), and insisted on hailing me a taxi to make sure I got home safe.
When I told the driver where I wanted to go, he headed to my old house, remembering me and where I used to live before we moved a couple of weeks ago. I got home, and still had $5 left in my purse. I came home happy. Half an hour after I got home, guess who called – Andrew from the footy club, as promised!
So nice to see and hear from people from home, and so nice to meet new people here. I know that Tony and Katie will be back to Fiji – they have to come – my husband wants to cook them a lovo! One week in Fiji is really not enough – if you come, please come for at least 10 days. We would have been so honoured to have Katie and Tony as guests in our home for a night or two, and show them some of our little part of Fiji, and hope that next time, as they only have to save for the air fare, and not the accommodation, that they will take us up on it, and that it is not nine years from now!