An outing filled with culture and unique and unusual finds…Fun photos to share today!…More to follow…

As we slowed down the car to take photos of the sea, my eyes caught something black moving at a distance. Getting out the car where there was no fence to keep these piglets contained, we squealed with delight, as did this little white piglet who seemed happy to see us.

With a mostly sunny day, we could hardly wait for Ratnesh to arrive to take us out to tour the local scenery. This island and this particular area are most commonly visited by tourists who are avid scuba divers, snorkelers, and seminar attendees at the world-renowned speaker Tony Robbins at his resort, Namala (more on that later after our upcoming visit and tour).

There aren’t as many tourist attractions here with a total of only 14 listed on Trip Advisor’s website that doesn’t include scuba diving. We already visited a few of these sites and will partake in some of the others that don’t include scuba diving.

I guess those who’ve been following us know that I love pigs.

Instead, we immerse ourselves in what appeals to us more than any tourist attractions, the life of the people of Fiji, living for generation on this small island of Vanua Levu, living a life of joy and happiness, always with a warm smile on their faces and a heartfelt “bula!” 

If seeing and being only a small part of their lives during our short three-month stay is all we do, we’ll have experienced more than any brochure or promo piece could ever have accomplished. 

To our good fortune, with Ratnesh as our guide and driver, a kindly and good soul with powerful religious convictions, we are allowed an inside peek into the lives of his people going back many generations. He shares snippets of their traditions with us as we drive.

It appears there were no less than five piglets.  The mom was contained within this wood structure, but the piglets could easily wander about.

Although we ask him questions as we drive, we respect the boundaries of those areas he chooses not to discuss, instead of focusing on that area in which he takes great pride, like yesterday when he shared the stories of the harsh treatment of Fijians before they gained their independence on October 10, 1970.

Included in this link is the detailed history of the Fijian Islands that history buffs may enjoy reading. Reading this site gave us a clearer perspective of Fiji’s history, its resourceful people, and its long road in the development of its independent status. 

With the holiday upcoming in a week, we’ll ask the locals as to the expected celebrations and how, if possible, we may participate, only possible for us with transportation. Next time we see Ratnesh, we’ll ask about his plans for that day, if in fact there is a big celebration in Savusavu.

There was no fence keeping the piglets from wandering off. This wood structure was located on the ocean side of the road with no house nearby other than those across the main road that led to the village.

Yesterday, we drove for two hours to see those areas that Ratnesh explained we may find most interesting. He reveled in our enthusiasm over the “simple” aspects of life in Fiji, whether it be an unusual rock formation, a minuscule island with three trees growing, or a blue lagoon, one would imagine only in their dreams.

It was a glorious day followed up by him dropping us in the center of the village to tend to another customer, promising to return in an hour, giving us plenty of time to wander about the village, stopping in shops and various establishments leaving us ample time to purchase vegetables in the Farmer’s Market and a dozen items in the tiny three aisle grocery store.

The closer we approached, the closer these two came to toward us. We stayed back to avoid disturbing the huge mom contained in the pen.

Much to our delight, two of the several grocery store helpers pointed out that fresh mushrooms had arrived (we purchased all three packages) and two other others we’d previously been unable to find;  cream cheese (we purchased all four packages) and a “turner” (spatula for flipping eggs). 

The helpers were thrilled that the items we inquired about had arrived. Maybe it’s pompous to suggest they ordered these specifically for us but, by the way, they expressed such enthusiasm when we put them into our trolley, we imagined they did in fact have influence in the arrival of these items. We expressed our gratitude with multiple “vinakas” and smiles on our faces.

As we walked away, the adorable white piglet came toward us, “Hey, where are you going?”

As planned, Ratnesh returned in less than an hour as we were checking out. We loaded the car with our stuff and off we went to see Helen at Fiji Meats much further down the road. 

When we arrived to a sign on the door stating, “Back at 4,” we only had to wait a couple of minutes until her return. By the time she had the door open, no less than a half dozen shoppers were waiting to make their meat purchased. The two roasted chickens we ordered early in the morning were ready to go in the heated roaster. 

The ferry that was awaiting passengers for its daily run to the main island of Viti Levu takes several hours.

A pair of anxious tourists ahead of us in line expressed their desire to purchase the chickens in the roaster that were earmarked for us. Helen politely explained she was holding them for us from our order early in the day.  They run out of these chickens each day and it’s imperative to preorder if arriving at 12 pm.  

Had we not planned our entire week’s menu and already shopped for all of the ingredients, we may have been willing to share. But, with no car of our own, and Thursday, our new shopping day when mushrooms arrive at the market in the morning, we’d have been one day short of making it to next Thursday.

The small freezer packed with ice cube trays prevents us from “stocking up” on anything more than what we’d use in one week. We’ve got meal planning worked out, down to a science.

The beach along the drive to the village.

On the way home, I checked the camera to discover I had enough photos to share for many days to come. Before bed, I went through every photo, eliminating the “duds” leaving those in place we’re excited to post, today’s is no exception.

As we share these photos over the next several days, the theme and accompanying stories will evolve, as we continue to discover more and more about this lovely island and people of Vanua Levu and this sleepy village of Savusavu and its surroundings.

Enjoy the day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 1, 2014:

Here we are in Hilo on the Big Island, one year ago, when our ship docked at the port. Although we’d be living in Hilo for six weeks beginning in December when our family would begin to arrive, we decided to take a bus which proved to be the wrong bus and we ended up at an odd location. Check here for details as we laughed over faux pas.

Working through the ups and downs of living in remote areas…

This is actually a dine in restaurant in the strip mall with two tiny tables for diners and minimal cooking space for the cook.

There’s an app I downloaded, Live Writer from Microsoft that enables me to write the post offline and upload it later to Blogger to post online. I’ve used this app many times over these past three years when there was no wifi signal and/or no electricity that obliterated the signal. I can prepare the post offline and upload it later once we’re back online.

Last night, after dinner, we had no signal. Luckily, after dinner, we watch a few shows to keep us entertained throughout the evening. Neither of us has ever enjoyed reading in the evening before going to bed. Once we retire for the night, reading a book on the Kindle app on our phones helps lull us to sleep. 
Often, if we awake during the night, unable to fall back to sleep, we may read a little more, once again able to fall back to sleep. Some mornings I awaken with the phone still in my hand or under my pillow. Oh, I know about radiation from the phone. Perhaps without service, our phones emit less of a signal. Who knows? 

Savusavu’s version of a strip mall.

One can only be cautious about so many things in life, leaving the rest to chance and good fortune. We only use the phone for short local calls, reducing the time the phone is spent next to our heads.

With no lamps or lighting other than the bright overhead light in the bedroom, reading a hardcover book is out of the question. Also, we’ve never had an interest in hauling physical books with us. Often we speak to other travelers our age who still prefer a paper book in hand. We get this. But, this lifestyle dictates that we read on our phones which I was doing long before leaving for our travels, many moons ago.

I recall watching the entire first season of “Glee” on my phone while working out on the elliptical at the health club on my phone, listening with earbuds, loving every moment. Surely, young people of today watch movies and TV shows on their phones without giving it a thought. Certainly, us older types aren’t exempt from participating in this type of pastime, freely using available technology.

This restaurant seems huge in comparison to the two table spot in another photo.

When we awoke at 6:30 this morning, still with no wifi signal, I expected the only way I’d be able to post today would be by using Live Writer and hoping for a blip of a signal long enough to upload it at some point.

When we first arrived in Fiji and the signal was bad, I was able to use the SIM card signal on Tom’s phone as a hot spot connection in order to upload the post.  Hopefully, today I’ll be able to do the same if we can’t get back online. As we’ve mentioned the signal on Tom’s phone is too weak to do much online.

There’s no question that not being able to be online is a huge factor in our level of satisfaction in where we’re living. We were lucky to be able to lock up the two vacation homes in Tasmania last week during a period we could get enough of a signal to research possibilities.

The bus depot in the village.

With one more gap to fill and research for the future, we’re at a loss without service, not only in that it impedes posting, a daily objective but, it prevents us from continuing our research, an ongoing process, we both find great pleasure in accomplishing, the search, the negotiations, the final contract and hopefully, the end result.

We feel bad for Mario. He’s quite the property owner/manager possessing a high degree of dedication and determination to provide the very best for his clients. His hands are tied. He’s worked steadily with the phone company to get the service working properly in this area. Obviously, some of his efforts have been in vain. We had better wifi service in Africa, living in the bush.

Burning garbage and refuse is allowed on the island.  Fortunately, there aren’t as many fires burning as there was in Kenya.

With the SIM card, we purchased on Tom’s phone, he can stay busy listening to the radio stream and his favorite, Garage Logic, from Minnesota. If I can get this post online today, I’ll be happy. At 1:00 pm today, Ratnesh is picking us up for sightseeing and shopping.

Today’s sunny skies make us excited that it may continue throughout the day. We’ve been disappointed that we haven’t been able to upload more amazing Fiji photos since our arrival. After all, we are in a beautiful place. 

We find these African tulips in most tropical countries.

As we’ve mentioned in the past, I’m not a skilled enough photographer to be able to take great photos on cloudy days and certainly not during rainstorms. But Tom begs to differ with me when we go back to review the photos of the Gardens of Versailles in August 2014 all taken during a rainstorm with the camera in a plastic bag in an attempt to keep it dry. 

Taking those photos in Versailles was quite a task which later we laughed over but now, with two more months on this island, I see no reason to go through that type of challenge when we can expect some sunny days. Also, why risk ruining the camera? There certainly aren’t any replacement options here on Vanua Levu.  Shipping rates are through the roof to this far away location making replacing any equipment too costly.

We’ve stopped taking the time to remove power lines from our photos.  They’re a fact of life in most areas.

We’re having snail mail sent to us from our mailing service in Nevada, three envelopes opened and stuffed into one letter-sized envelope, a few containing replacement credit cards that include the “chip technology.” The cost for priority mail for this single envelope was US $26, FJD $57. For FED EX with a three to five-day delivery, it was USD $114, FJD $248, an amount we just weren’t willing to pay for a single envelope. Hopefully, it will arrive in the next month or so.

So this morning, we’d experienced a modicum of frustration over the wifi issues. Otherwise, we’re quite fine.  Sure, there are a few annoying items with the rain, the ants, the lack of areas nearby suitable for walks, the uncomfortable bed, the limited products at the grocery store, and the tiny coffee pot. But, we don’t want to mislead our readers in claiming that everything is always rosy. In our old lives, there were frustrations of daily life as well, as there always is.

But there are many wonderful aspects we treasure. We think of Mario, the great owner looking out for us, the friendly support staff, the joy of visiting the various markets, the constants sounds of birds singing, the beautiful views, and the exquisite vegetation. We’ve learned to “Love, the One You’re With!” 

Nawi Island is across from the village.

This morning I called Helen, the owner of the tiny meat market in the village, Fiji Meats, asking her to hold two cooked chickens for us, which we now order weekly.  She recognized my voice and with warmth and enthusiasm in hers, she took our order with a heartfelt “vinaka” (thank you). It’s that kindness and familiarity that makes everything OK.

As I finish this post, Junior stopped by. He and Mario went up on the roof and reset the main switch to the Internet. We’re back on! Now, we can post, pay our bills online for the month of October (it’s the 1st here today), say hello to friends and family, and continue the search, the ongoing search for the next leg of our journey. As for today, we can now settle back and enjoy the moment, heading out on a sunny day!

Have a fabulous day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 1, 2014:
Although we had an upcoming almost two weeks to live in Honolulu/Waikiki, we got off the ship to wander about the downtown area of Honolulu. For more details, please click here.