Nadi, Fiji is an interesting place. The area attracts mounds of people each year because of the surrounding area. The beaches, the islands, the waves, but Nadi, Fiji itself, is another world.
Overlooking Nadi, Fiji from store front
The fact that Nadi has an international airport has brought a ton of attention to the area and has made it easy to access, and after meeting a few Australian guys who we connected with right away, we hopped in the rental car and drove the 30 minutes to check out the town of Nadi. We had heard on the news there was some "political unrest" happening in Fiji and my parents had expressed a little bit of concern about it from what they had heard on the news. Upon getting closer to Nadi, traffic started to slow and we had to pass through a road block. We approached the road block, and sticking our heads out the windows to peer around the cars ahead, we could see guards armed to the teeth with automatic weapons and full camo gear. Pulling our heads into the car we all looked at each other wide eyed having never seen anything like this first hand. As we approached and passed through the "road block" we looked up at the guards, who took their hands off their guns for a second to give the shiny pale guys in the dusty rental car a wave, and a smile. Classic Fiji, even their "coup's" are happy go lucky.
Waisale Serevi in action, credit: blitzbokke.com
We approached Nadi realizing full well that there was nothing to stress about regarding the "political situation" here in Fiji, and we hopped out and walked the streets in and out of shops. Looking around one shop at a classic tourist purchase, a Fiji Bitter beer singlet, we heard a bit of commotion outside. I laid down my things on the counter to go see what was going on, and walking down the street, draped in a Fijian flag, was the legend, Waisale Serevi! In Fiji, rugby is a religion, and Waisale Serevi is God. Waisale Serevi, who is now retired, was winding down the end of his illustrious career that led him from Fiji, to England, and over to France and is considered one of the best Fijian rugby players of all time. Here he was, strolling down the middle of the road in Nadi, flag on his back, smile from ear to ear, with people clapping behind him. Short, but built like a tractor, Serevi walked over to us and nodded his head, smiled and said "Bula bula" which can mean anything from hello, goodbye, thanks, love and more. Fitting I happened to be wearing a white rugby shirt from highschool, and I ran inside the store to grab a jiffy marker, as Serevi waited patiently outside to sign the left chest portion of my shirt, shook my hand, patted me on the shoulder, and went on his way. What an absolute gentleman. This is classic behaviour amongst the incredibly warm, understanding and positive Fijian people.
Classic Kava Ceremony, Fiji
Snagging all of our souvenirs and trinkets for the last few days in Fiji, we headed back to the hostel, for a Kava Ceremony. We were not certain about what exactly this was but were told it is a classic tradition and a must-do when in Fiji. After dinner, and a few Fiji Bitters, we sat down in a circle as someone in the center mulled around what looked like a white pillow case with grey muddy looking water coming out of it. This was done in a large mortar style bowl a couple feet in circumference made out of a clay like substance, with 2 miniature bowls around the side. The ceremony "leader" explained a little about the root drink of Kava and the traditional proceedings that take place. When you receive the bowl, you clap, put your hands together flat out in front of you and take the bowl with both hands, drink it, hand the bowl back, and clap again. The drink itself? Interesting. I had been warned it tasted like dirt, but it was more like a sort of rice water, and was not bad at all, with very little taste. Upon drinking it, your tongue starts to lose feeling, and the muscles in your arm start to relax and you start to feel almost a little sleepy.
After the Kava was gone, we retreated to the beach area to knock back another couple traditional beverages, and had some Bounty Rum that the Aussies had brought from Duty Free. Just a couple, and then we all agreed to call it a night so we could get up early, enjoy the day, and head to the Ziggy Marley Concert at night!