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Fiji - part 2 12.02.2002

I'm gonna continue on my Fiji-story from where I left it in the last travel anecdote.

At the beach, getting comfortable with the Fiji-time atmos, the boat arrived around 12:30-ish. Now, calling it a boat would be a little too much, actually it was more like a glasfiber dingy [i.e. it was a glasfiber dingy], and when it arrived on the beach it was full of people of all sizes and ages. As skipper and his crew of two boys jumped out of the boat, Leslie and I hustled over there to start loading our stuff. But no, that wasn't gonna happen just yet, they had to get petrol for the ride back to Mana, and they also had to do some shopping. OK, I was happy that I wasn't in a hurry, and you couldn't really argue with them, I mean, we needed the petrol to get to the island, and I sure wasn't going to suggest me rowing the boat out there, even though it was just a "short boatride" from the main island. Inside my head I was struggling to bypass my default time perception BIOS and flashing it to the the new and much slimer Fiji version — it was harder than I thought.

Of course, the shortness of the boatride was again defined by the rather arbitrary concept of Fijian time. After skipper and his two deckhands had picked up the fuel, goods, and some building material from Nadi, we set out for Mana only 2hrs late. It was baking hot, sun was out, and the reflected rays of sun from the beautifully blue ocean was caressing my pale face [I lean towards the monitor tan you know — back then too]. We crossed over severeal shallow reefs with the two young deckhands helping skipper to navigate without the boat hitting the sharp edges. This caused the boat to swerve and sometimes going along the waves instead of against them, allowing even small waves to splash over the railing of the heavily loaded boat [I reckon we were 10-15 people in it], the salinity was high. Surroundings were beatiful, and I am sorry for the lack of images to go with this post, but I wanted to save my camera from being flooded — I did get whalloped by a few waves. Luckily, Mana Island has been pretty aggresive on the promotion side if things, they have their own website, although I doubt that this is the work of my host and his people. They told us that the northern part of the island was owned by some japanese tourist resort who wanted to buy the southern part so they could build a golf course for their exec visitors. WTF! Luckily my host was stubborn, I hope he prevailed, and foiled their evil scheme of turning this beautiful little island in to a resort with facilities found so many other places.

When we arrived at the pier on Mana Island we were greeted by Ramboui, our host and the Chief on the Island. I never quite figured out whether he was actually the Chief by heritage, or by self appointment, but he was in charge alright. Mana is a tiny island [1.2 sq km], you can walk around it in a matter of hours — I did. The southern part is hilly, while the northern part is rather plain. It's a very lush and green island. I stayed there for 5 days, and I have only good memories of this place.

I mentioned they brought some building materials to the island, they were for a new welcome desk, and seeing it being partially built in the 5 days I were there, were once again a striking example of how easy-going these people are. It wasn't rocket science you know, they were building a welcome desk in the main office, and back home it would have been finished by the end of day one. Most of the time the workers were just hanging out in the shade.

While at Mana Island, I got to snorkle the reef around the island, drink Kava with the locals and the other tourists there, and basically just enjoy life in big bites. The Fijians were such friendly people, warm and hospitable — made me feel really comfortable and welcome there.

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