An unexpected unique day…Plus, a tragic loss of life remembered in Boston one year ago…See ending photo below…

Yesterday, Tom took this stunning photo of the coral reef from the highest peak he climbed with Sewak.

With the wifi not working, yesterday at noon we ventured off the property for a walk. The steep rocky mountainous road prevented us from walking far but we’d noticed a short area, we could explore enabling me to take some photos.

Our landlord Mario has five properties on this land, two houses, one of which we’re living in, the other which he and his wife Tatiana occupy and three lovely apartments, all of which are occupied with tourists at this time. 

The house we’re in is secluded from all of the others and we’d have to walk around the back of the wraparound veranda to see the three-unit building tucked away in the trees further up the hill.

Sewak’s home of over 40 years includes a separate Hindu temple area and family shrine which he happily showed us. 

There’s a swimming pool with no chaises or lawn chairs and we doubt we’ll ever use it. Instead, we’ll grab a chair on the veranda moving it into the sun which hopefully soon appears. The sky is overcast again today with a scattering of blue mixed in between billowy clouds.

When it’s not pouring rain Tom spends a lot of time sitting on the veranda with his laptop in an attempt to get a better signal and to enjoy the ocean views. Two years ago, after living in Kenya for three months without a living room, spending 16 hours a day on the veranda without screens, he seems to have developed a habit of spending most of his days outdoors, weather permitting.

With the mozzies generally loving every morsel of my exposed flesh, I tend to stay indoors on humid buggy days. Seldom using repellent, recently the bites have been few as I continue to be convinced that taking daily doses of vitamin B1 is doing the trick.

The side yard at Sewak’s home.

We’d hope to do further sightseeing with Ratnesh this week. The rainy weather has prevented it. Today, he’s out of town so if the sun peeks out, we’ll be staying home anyway, waiting for the next sunny day. We’re scheduled to tour with him every Tuesday if the weather’s good and to shop when we’re done.

Vanua Levu is shaped like a thin triangle, 30 to 50 kilometers, 18 to 30 miles wide and 180 kilometers, 112 miles long. Most of the island is unpopulated with dense rainforests and is unique in its lack of tourist infrastructure. Its slow pace is typical of many secluded islands throughout the world. 

Living in exquisite surroundings can easily inspire one to slow down to reflect on the beauty as opposed to the usual hustle and bustle of city life. We’ve become good at this over these past three years of travel.

The hill we drove up, in Sewak’s truck toward the top.

Back to our walk, walking up from the house to the road requires several uneven steps, a stint on rocky gravel and maneuvering more rocky gravel that’s uphill. In the reviews for this property, we noted a comment made by a past tourist that they’d fallen on the road. We proceeded with caution, mostly Tom hangs on to support me, as he always manages to do with  the utmost of care. 

Of course, I had the camera in hand as I always when we leave the house, regardless of where we may live at the time. Assuming I’d at least find some vegetation as photo subjects, we teetered along, mindful of our steps in the process. 

First, we investigated Mario’s apartments and the pool area which I’d yet to see. (Tom had checked it out days ago). It appeared no one was around so we could peek in the windows. 

Some of my photos are slanted.  I was standing on a steep hill and didn’t properly adjust for the angle.

Although the apartments appeared lovely, we were thrilled we’d managed to book this private house as opposed to an apartment.  We can clomp around on the floors all we want and Tom can spew his disgusting expletives when he loses at a hand of Gin.  No one can hear us.

With a variety of pretty flowers blooming, we found ourselves wandering toward the single reachable neighbor’s house nearby. Not wanting to intrude, we trod carefully not getting too close to the house. Within moments, a man came running toward us. He seemed excited to see us immediately welcoming us indoors to visit with him.

With family roots in India, Sewak explained that he’d never lived in the country of his ancestors, but possesses a strong Indian accent speaking English, Hindi and Fijian.  Although a bit tricky to understand everything he says, we all became engaged in a delightful conversation while sitting in his clean but cluttered living room filled with stuffed animals and the relics of a lifetime.  

Recently, Sewak sold two acres of his land which is yet to be developed.

Sewak’s enthusiasm for visitors was evident. His wife whom he misses terribly has been in Australia visiting family for the past month soon to return. We look forward to meeting her as well. 

After about a 20 minute chat, Sewak insisted he take us up to the highest point of his six-acre property (he recently sold two acres) to see the views. Getting into his older well worn four-wheel drive truck, we embarked on the steepest drive of our lives!  It was hard to believe the truck could make it up the recently excavated dirt road. 

The wind was blowing requiring me to ask Tom to hold this perfect flower for my shot while we toured Sewak’s grounds.

Minutes later we were atop the hill with mind-blowing views of the scenery below. Once we reached the top, a steep climb was required to go a bit higher on root covered, rocky terrain. I let Tom, holding the camera and Sewak take that portion of the hike without me, while I waited with his dog, Badal, who’d run up the steep mountain with the greatest of ease barking alongside the truck the entire way.

We spent considerable time overlooking the scenery while Sewak explained the story of his land which he acquired in the 1970’s. With a natural spring running through his property he provides water not only for his house but, Mario’s property  as well, for which he’s never required him to pay. 

That’s the fresh-tasting water we’ve been drinking since our arrival. Without it, we’d be purchasing bottled water carrying it up the long walk from the car to the house. How fortunate we’ve been for this!

Close to the top of the hill overlooking the sea.

Before we left his house, he mentioned he was having trouble with getting online to be able to Skype his wife and family. I sat down at his computer  moments later I was able to get him online with Skype ready to go. He was very grateful but, then again, so were we.

After a few hours of pure pleasure, we profusely thanked Sewak for his friendliness, the tour and his time.  We’re always sensitive about cultural differences and proceed carefully with shows of affection and gratitude.  When a kiss and hug comes my way, my arms are open. Sewak offered me both as he generously pumped Tom’s hand. We’d made a new friend.

Later in the early evening, Mario stopped by with a new router exclusively for our use. Sitting on the floor by the electrical outlet for over an hour, he manipulated the device hoping to get it working. While he was working on the device, Sewak appeared at the door, carrying a handful of white radishes, the first of his crop in his recently planted garden. 

Badal, Sewak’s dog, bounded up the steep hill with ease.

As a vegetarian, typical for the people of India, he’d planted an extensive garden, kindly offering to share its bounty with us during our stay. We couldn’t have been more appreciative. We washed and cut a large radish and had it with dinner, leaving enough for tonight and again tomorrow.

He and Tom talked on the veranda while Mario and I stayed indoors as he worked on the router. By the time darkness fell, the device was working, albeit in and out (I had to reset it again this morning) and both he and Sewak left at the same time leaving us to our dinner and the evening.

In less than 10 minutes, we’d reheated the leftover grass-fed taco meat, took out the previously diced tomatoes, onions, olives, grated cheese, and lettuce, reheated my roasted veggies, placed my laptop on the end of the kitchen table playing season 4, episode 2, of the popular British TV show, Doc Martin, while we dined.

It was a good day.

Photo from one year ago today, September 18, 2014:

One year ago today when we visited my father’s gravesite in Boston, we posted the story about his tragic death when I was 12 years ago. This is his wedding photo from his marriage to my mother in 1942. He had an exemption for going off to fight in World War II when his company was commissioned by the US government to manufacture ammunition. My sisters and I inherited the entrepreneurial spirit from him, each of us having our own businesses for most of our working careers. For details from that post, please click here.

Comments and responses An unexpected unique day…Plus, a tragic loss of life remembered in Boston one year ago…See ending photo below…

  1. Staci Finch Thompson

    I just grinned all the way through this post. What a fun day – and a great story about your neighbor! And I'm sure he's as delighted to share his vegetables as you are to have them – there are always more than one person can consume!

    And glad the wi-fi issues are improving. I know that will be a relief.

  2. Jessica

    Staci, we're pleased you enjoyed the story about Sewak and his home. It was quite an interesting day. Today, we're off to meet some new people visiting here. One must be aggressive in order to make new friends but it certainly is worth the effort.

    Have a wonderful weekend!
    Jess & Tom

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