Day #215 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Cultural experiences in remote Fiji…Kava?…

A pig and a few ducks were living off the land and sea in Vuodomo, Fiji.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2015 while living in Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji. For more from this date, please click here.

It’s hard to believe it was five years ago today that we visited Vuodomo Falls on the island of Vanua Levu, Fiji, while living in the highly cultured and fascinating village of Savusavu. During our entire three-month stay in a bit of house overlooking the ocean, we may have seen a total of 10 Caucasians in this less-often visited holiday/vacation spot for most travelers.

Handmade ladder outside of a villager’s house. We speculated this ladder is shared from house to house as needed.

On occasion, we’d see a couple or two, often sailors who anchored their sailboats near Nawai Island at the Waitui Marina, a common spot for world-travel sailors to stop to restock supplies. Often, they may have been sorely disappointed when there was only one food aisle in the small market (of three aisles) with few non-perishable food items. But they, like us, may have shopped at the meat market and the huge farmer’s market, open daily, packed with farmers offering their organic vegetables and fruit.

Every day during our three months in the village presented new cultural experiences different from any we’d experienced in our prior years of world travel. One of our favorite outings was visiting the tiny village of Vuodomo to see the exquisite waterfalls.

Handmade raft for fishing, which Rasnesh explained is safer than a boat when there’s no chance of being stranded or sinking.

But, the fascinating aspect to us was when our driver explained we needed to stop at the “kava store” to purchase kava to bring to the chief of Vuodomo, who then, upon receipt of our “gift,” would allow us to walk to the falls, down a distant path, assisted by his lovely granddaughter, Tima, to escort us to the falls.

Kava is described as follows:

“Kava, otherwise known as yaqona, or simply grog, is the traditional national drink of Fiji. It is a mildly narcotic and sedative drink made from the crushed root of the yaqona (pronounced yang-GO-na) strained with water. It is served in a large communal bowl as part of the traditional kava ceremony.”

Other handmade rafts were ready for fishing along the inlet.

We supposed kava is considered to be comparable to smoking marijuana or drinking alcohol. But in this case, it’s a drink shared in a group out of one bowl, intoxicating everyone in the group. At one point, we were offered to participate in drinking kava and, more or less, pretended to take a sip to avoid offending the villagers.

The chief graciously accepted our “gift,” and off we went with his granddaughter, Tima, and our driver to the falls. Today’s photos aren’t reminiscent of the waterfalls but more about the tiny village that taught us more about culture in remote areas of Fiji than any other tours we made during those three months.

Clothes dryers are unheard of in many parts of the world, regardless of their modernization. A bench is located under this beautiful tree for quiet reflection with ocean views.

Savusavu, Fiji provided us with a constant flow of exciting experiences. We made every effort to blend in with the nuances and adaptations we needed to make while there. Looking back now puts smiles on our faces. How we miss exploring, learning, and for a time, becoming a part of a culture, unlike anything we’d experienced in the past.

It was scorching and humid with many mosquitos and other insects. There was no air-con, poor WiFi, no TV. We had limited access to many food items we typically used to cook our favorite meals. The tiny house had no oven, only a stovetop, but the owner kindly purchased a countertop oven for our use.

Tima explained these are crab holes located all over their grassy areas. Crab, shrimp, and other fish are good food sources for the villagers, often caught in the nets, as shown in the next photo.

Ants are a massive issue in Fiji. The night we arrived at the little house, I went to bed before Tom. I noticed a strange feeling in the bed, as if something was “buzzing/moving” under me. I grabbed a beach towel and laid it on the bed under me. I hardly slept all night. Tom did the same when he came to bed.

In the morning, we pulled off the sheet to find the tiny double bed infested with thousands of ants on the move. They were even inside the bed pillows. We squealed in horror. Thank goodness the owner agreed to replace the mattress (no box springs) and all the bedding. The cleaning staff scoured the entire bedroom to ensure no ants remained using non-chemical-based products. That night, we finally got some sleep.

A fishing net drying on the grass is regularly used by the villagers.

But, ants continued to be an issue. They’d appear while I was chopping and dicing for dinner, while the food was cooking, and even while we were eating. We were constantly washing all surfaces to get rid of them. No food products could be left out for even minutes. We adapted and stopped complaining within a day.

Oddly, it seems as if the places we’ve visited over these eight years (our eighth travel anniversary is one week from today on October 31) requiring us to adapt the most have been the places of most interest. Funny.

Seeing this starving puppy broke our hearts. We must accept that dogs are not regarded with the same love and care familiar to many in Fiji and many other parts of the world. Their function is for protection, not intended as a pet. However, we’ve found exceptions, such as in Badal, our daily visitor, who is well nourished and loved by his Fijian owners and all the neighbors. 

Thanks to so many of our readers for the email and comment regarding yesterday’s mention of the Garage Logic podcast from Minnesota, USA, where Joe Soucheray told our story about being in lockdown in Mumbai on his podcast on October 22. If you haven’t read that story, please click here. Hearing from so many of YOU was certainly a day-brightener for us! Thank you! Thank you, Joe and his group.

Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 23, 2019:

On our ship from Southampton, England, to the US, our cabin was excellent and tidy before our luggage arrived. For more photos, please click here

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