2010-01-05: Holidays

Christmas and New Years have come and gone but we’re still celebrating in the village! Christmas came and went and although the bamboo guns where somewhat annoying we made it through a little shaken but otherwise in good spirits. We where warned, though, that New Years would be ten times the event Christmas was with not only the bamboo bombs, but all night caroling by food demanding youths, large food fights, and a culminating mass hurling of bodies into the ocean. We’ve never been big on New Years celebrations so we decided it best to lay low this year and make our way to ===, Gloria’s village on the southern side of Taveuni.

We had been to === once before and were excited to get back to the friendly and laid back pace of this small Fijian outpost settled at the end of the eastern bus route. The people here are amazingly friendly. All the kids love people and excitedly say Bula! no matter how many times you’ve passed them that day. The men and women flash genuine smiles showing their deep and simple joy towards life. Last time Gloria was back in the states visiting her sick father, who had since passed away.

We spent most of the time huddled on her tiny living room floor yarning away enjoying Gloria’s awesome cooking. This was about all we could do as the weather was non-cooperative with showers 95% of the time. === is still gorgeous rain or shine, though. The last day the showers finally abated a bit and we went out on the coastal walk with Simone as our guide. Simone is a bright smiling 40 something Fijian with an adventurous attitude towards life. He has been a guide on the trail for over 10 years and is very knowledgeable on the vegetation and terrain of this part of Fiji. He also has a wonderful sense of humor and kept us laughing multiple points through out the trek.

Last time we made the 6km walk the current up to the falls was two swift to swim. This time the water was perfect and we were able to swim to the large pool collecting water from two offsetting falls. One fall comes in low and the other much higher. Simone demonstrated his expertise by quickly navigating the turbulent current of the pool, scampering up the slimy rock wall adjacent to the fall, and launching his body off the highest fall. Check out the video for his heroics. Several other volunteers have done the same, but I haven’t quite mustered up the courage to make the plunge. Plus some visitors have been severely injured from the fall ,and I guess such risks become more realistic with age. Ten years ago I would have done a gainer off it.

After he played slip and slide on the smaller fall, we left the pool and swam back to the trail. On the way out we heard him making a bird call. In the distance we heard a bird respond and he quickly pointed out that was a barking pigeon. The way he said it though sounded like barking Fijian. It was quite funny as we have seen a few of those as well.

(note: if you haven’t guessed already from my constant use of villager and island, Peace Corps Policy is to not name volunteer villages for security purposes. Thus the ===.)

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