Part 2, Vuadomo Waterfall…A walk through the rainforest…Our photo together…To “selfie” or not to “selfie”…Botox injections?

 

Rasnesh took this photo of us in front of the Vuadomo Waterfall. We were hot and sweaty but the long trek was worth it!

Many of our readers and Facebook friends have asked us to post photos of ourselves as we explore the world.  Not good at doing the “selfie” thing and usually, with only the two of us at many locations, we don’t have many photos to share of us together. 

Vuadomo Waterfall was larger than it appears in these photos.

We aren’t into “selfie” photos or silly facial expressions photos and as we’ve aged, we don’t believe that photos of ourselves are as appealing as they may have been in our younger years.

Perhaps, what I just said is an oxymoron. We don’t want to be vain in focusing on ourselves and yet, we don’t like how we look in photos as much as we did years ago. Let’s just go with the fact that vanity plays a role in photos of oneself, no matter how old one is, one way or another.

We didn’t see any other tourists walking to or from the falls.

We’ve noticed many of our Facebook friends are great at taking and sharing “selfie” photos. We admire them for that. But, whenever we try to take good photos of ourselves, they usually aren’t anything we’d like to post online and we don’t see the necessity of sharing our own persona in a photo when, if we want to look at ourselves, we can look in the mirror.

Not that getting old is bothering us. It’s just that we wish we had more time and the promise of good health to ensure we could carry on for decades to come. I suppose everyone starts thinking about wishing they had more time as we approach 70 years old, for me a mere two-plus year away.

Tom, five years younger than me, isn’t quite there yet in his thinking. I don’t think about it much, only on the days when I haven’t slept well, feel sluggish, and have bags under my eyes. 

 Vuadomo Waterfall.

When we were in Australia and I had an appointment with a female doctor, after being given a clean bill of health, she asked if I’d like to have Botox injections. She had learned how to do them and said I’d be a good candidate. 

For three reasons I turned her down; one, if I were to have Botox injections, I’d see a board-certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist; two, if I had Botox injections how and where would I have touch-ups…in the Amazon or living on a remote island? Three, I don’t want Botox injections or any type of plastic surgery. Give me a break…I’m trying my best to age gracefully.

An orchid growing in the rainforest.

That’s not to say I’m opposed to such measures if a person chooses to look younger or if one prefers to create an entirely different appearance. Who am I to judge anyone else when I put on some makeup and fix my hair each day? Does that require a certain degree of what may consider as vanity? I can justify it by saying I grew up in California and California girls always did their best to look “ready to go anywhere” at any given moment.

All of us have our routines to make ourselves look exactly how we’d like, our own personal routine and who’s to say or judge what one person does over another? Certainly not me.

The creek running from the waterfall.

Yep, when we go on a day trip, I bring a tube of lipstick. Yep, when we go on an overnight trip, I bring a little black bag with six items that I use every morning to look my best for the day. Does Tom care, one way or another? He hardly notices. At night, when I wash it all away, he loves me exactly the same way. I do it for me.  It makes me feel my best.

A few readers have written suggesting I ditch my cosmetics, cut my hair, and wear baggy tee shirts that I can buy in our travels (mostly with words on them) and baggy khaki shorts. In their well-intentioned suggestions, they think that would be “easier” for me. I thank them for their well-meaning suggestions. That wasn’t me 50 years ago and it’s not me now. 

The creek on the return walk.

I wasn’t a sweatshirt kind of girl, nor did I wear baggy sweatpants around the house on the weekends. Not that I dressed up to clean the house or cook. I’d wear jeans, shirts, or well-fitted tee shirts, comfortable and totally perfect for what I needed to accomplish. 

Now I wear shorts and long-wearing, short sleeve cotton tees with 5% spandex that last through many washings and wearings, purchased at a great online shop in the US, for which I order replacements each year to be shipped with our next box of supplies. 

The clean water was appealing as hot and sweaty as we were.  With shopping ahead of us, we decided against getting wet.

At the moment, I have six of those tee shirts in varying colors I’ve yet to wear as I repeatedly wear my older inventory until it starts becoming threadbare. I’m saving the new ones for the many upcoming cruises, preferring not to wear worn old clothing on a cruise.

In our old lives, I had closets filled with off-season clothing and my own walk-in closet in the bedroom filled to the brim with color-coordinated clothing all hung in the same direction, all on no-slip velvet hangers. 

Tima and Rasnesh, long time friends, after many hikes with tourists to the waterfall. 

Now, I have one suitcase with clothes. Now, I don’t have a clothes rod, only a few shelves for stacking. Now, I have three sandwich bags each with a few extra cosmetic items, just in case, I can’t find them at a local pharmacy. I don’t own a single face cream or skincare product, no body lotion, no hand cream, no self-tanning product, using coconut oil, and insect repellent as needed. 

Vain? Perhaps, in that, I still, and always will continue to prepare for the day as I have all of my adult life. And, I’ll always carry that tube of lipstick whether on a safari in the savanna or on a hot and humid hike into the rainforest. That’s who I am and will always be. 

The water was clear and clean with no signs of human visitors in the area.  We’ve seen no trash or liter in any area of this island. 

Taking a “selfie” and posting it online?  Nah, that’s not us.  We’ll continue to include photos of us together when we have someone along that can take the photo, as we’re posting today, and will again when we soon celebrate our three year anniversary of traveling the world.

A line from Popeye, the sailor man, “I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam.” (Here’s the video from 1933).  Guess that line could apply to all of us.

Have a glorious day!

  Photo from one year ago today, October 27, 2014:
Front Street in Lahaina, Maui on a beautiful sunny day.  We enjoyed the walk along the popular beachfront boulevard.  For more details, please click here.

 

 

Part 1, Vuadomo Waterfall…A walk through the rainforest…More photos tomorrow…

Typically in rainforests, we’ve observed insects and birds as more colorful than in less dense areas of vegetation. Tima spotted this caterpillar we’d easily have missed.

With Internet limitations and the difficulty of uploading photos at times, it’s necessary to break up the sharing of photos into “parts,” as has been the case in many places we’ve traveled.

We’d considered sharing fewer photos, instead, sharing just the highlights. For two reasons, we decided against that concept, preferring to break up our photos and stories into “parts” sharing those we find most appealing as we work our way through hundreds of photos we may take in a single outing. 

We giggled over this saying advertising a “10-minute” walk to the waterfall which may have been the case for young athletic types but certainly not for us old-timers, walking gingerly to avoid falling!

Our first reason for sharing as many photos as we can over a “series” is the fact that our readers have requested more photos. Secondly, it’s for the ongoing documentation of our travels at an online location that we hope will be available for generations to come. 

Today’s waterfall photos and story will consist of two parts, today’s and tomorrow’s. The trek through the rainforest to the Vuadomo Waterfall was in itself, quite an experience, stopping along the way to take many photos and to revel in the beauty of the exquisite remote jungle.

A short wooden ramp of three logs led to the stone path.  When we ventured across those three logs, I expected a wobbly hike once we were on the rocks.  Tima and Rasnesh waited for us while we loaded an extra battery into the camera.

Throughout the world, we’ve trekked through rainforest after rainforest. In essence, they are all similar in the vast amount of vegetation creating a canopy that at times blocks the view of the sky.This is where the similarities begin and end.

Here’s a definition of a rainforest:

“rainforest

/ˈreɪnˌfɒrɪst/
noun

1.

dense forest found in tropical areas of heavy rainfall. The trees are broad-leaved and evergreen, and the vegetation tends to grow in three layers (undergrowth, intermediate trees and shrubs, and very tall trees, which form a canopy) Also called selva.”

rain forest in Science 

rainforest

(rān’fôr’ĭst)  

A dense evergreen forest with an annual rainfall of at least 406 cm (160 inches).

Our Living Language   : Most of the world’s rainforests lie near the equator and have tropical climates. However, cooler rainforests exist in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States and Canada. The world’s largest rainforest is located in the Amazon River basin. The Amazon rainforest has been described as the “lungs of our planet” because it continuously recycles carbon dioxide into oxygen, with a significant percentage of the world’s atmospheric oxygen being produced in this region. Besides helping to regulate the world’s climate, rainforests host an extraordinary diversity of life. Scientists believe that as many as half of the Earth’s different species of plants and animals are found only in the rainforests, which take up a mere 7 percent of the world’s landmass. By some estimates, more than half of the Earth’s original rainforests have already been burned or cut down for timber or grazing land, and more than 130 plant, animal, and insect species are thought to be going extinct daily as a result of the lost habitat. Currently 25 percent of Western pharmaceuticals are derived from tropical rainforest ingredients, and 70 percent of the plants with anticancer properties are found only in this shrinking biome.

We often hear about rainforests in reference to the above described Amazon River basin and the fact that so much precious plant and animal life is dwindling daily having a profound effect on our planet; the loss of plant, animal, and insect species all vital to our existence in a myriad of ways.

Rasnesh pointing out a passion fruit tree, early in its blooming stages.

As we’ve seen and visited all over the world, there are many massive smaller rainforests in many countries, many we’ve visited in our travels, each with its own unique forms of life and vegetation, although each possessing a similar vital aspect to our world’s ecosystem.

I could spend days on this topic even in my limited knowledge, if only from personal experience over these past three years of world travel. And still, we’ve yet to visit the Amazon which is well on our radar, with our next visit to a new continent earmarked as South America, once we’ve completed our short visit to the US in the summer of 2017.   

A budding passion fruit.

Here is Savusavu, we need only to look out the window where we can easily feel a part of the ecosystem in this densely forested area overlooking the sea. Although our immediate surroundings may not be specifically referred to as a rainforest, living in this jungle-like area gives us a perception of doing so, especially when only across this expansive bay in front of us, we traveled by car to Vuadomo, entering a true rainforest on the trek to the waterfall on the privately-owned sacred grounds of the Vuadomo people.

To call the walk to the Vuadomo Waterfall a “trek” is by no means a misnomer. It’s indeed quite a trek. At certain points, I was reminded of the dangerous trek to the Queen’s Bath, (click here for the story and photos), one we foolishly insisted on doing, only grateful for the experience long after it safely ended.

A passion fruit flower.

The walk to the Vuadomo Waterfall was steep and unrelenting with a narrow rocky base at times interrupted by steep uneven steps to navigate to a higher elevation. After all, waterfalls are generally located at an elevation to some degree. At one point, our ears popped.

Rasnesh and Tima escorted us on the tour, steady on their feet in their familiarity with the trek. With Tima insisting on offering me a hand over the most difficult parts, I stopped periodically to wipe the sweat off my hand onto my pants. The heat and humidity were bordering on unbearable.

This time of year in the South Pacific, papaya is getting ripe and ready for consumption as it turns yellow.

As we walked in a single file, Tom and I spoke of the difficult long-ago trek to Petra, Jordan (click here for the story and photos) in the scorching heat of 40C, 104F. Although it was a dry heat, it literally dried the moisture in our mouths, making swallowing difficult. 

However, this trek through the Vuadomo rainforest with a temperature of 32C, 90F, and humidity at 100% (it rained on the drive), we were almost equally uncomfortable, sweat pouring off of our exposed skin.  Not one to sweat much, I was surprised by the droplets of sweat pouring off my face, dripping down my arms and off my hands. Tom was the same. 

These tony chilies are often for sale in the Farmer’s Market. 

At no point, did we consider turning back or complaining aloud. Over wet rocks and slippery vegetation, we continued on, anxious to see the waterfall we’d heard so much about from the locals. All we needed to do was get there and back without stumbling and falling.

We enjoyed the trek, stopping for photo ops that Tima and Rasnesh pointed out in their experience of many times over these rocks. Whether it was a tree with fruit, a caterpillar as shown, or a bird in flight, we stopped to observe, never feeling rushed, especially as Tima reminded us many times, of “No rush, this is Fiji. Nice and easy.”

These huge leaves which Tima referred to as elephant ears are different than the same-named common household plant in the US.

Her thoughtful assistance, insight, and educational comments made the journey all the more interesting and enriching. Finally, after about 20 minutes, we heard the waterfall shortly before it was visible. The sound of the rushing water sent a thrill through both of us.

Ah, Mother Nature, when did you create this treasure, by no means the biggest waterfall we’ve seen but, supremely beautiful even on the cloudy day? Through our research we haven’t been able to ascertain when this loveliness was first spotted by the human eye, nor was Tima aware of this fact.

The grass was wet here making it important to fit our feet onto the individual stone steps.

We could only assume that as long ago as the villagers first settled in Vuadomo they stumbled upon this exquisite gift from their God or higher power, lovingly nurtured by Mother Nature in her exquisite rainforest design, trees to the heavens of many varieties, many fruit-bearing, birds and small creatures each in their own way contributing to the ecosystem.

We were indeed in a rainforest and although it wasn’t the Amazon it was a place where we’ll always recall in the list of the many rainforests we’ve visited in our travels, each unique in its own way.

Still, at quite a distance, we gasped with delight over our first peek at the waterfall which is much larger than it appears in this photo.

The waterfall, although not huge, which we hadn’t expect, was as beautiful as rushing water can be.  With recent non-stop rains the water easily flowed with an intensity we found mesmerizing. 

At the final destination, Tima pointed out a wooden bench suggesting we stop to rest and partake in the magnificence of the waterfall while we recovered from the long trek. The cooling spray from the waterfall was more refreshing and soothing than sitting down, as we languished for a while, enjoying the view.

A creek flowed from the waterfall pool.

After photos, we were back on the trek to return to Rasnesh’s vehicle awaiting us at the entrance to the path.  We’d brought along only one bottled water which by then was almost hot when we each took a few much-needed sips.

Soon, we were back on the highway leaving the area located across the bay from our temporary home to return to Savusavu for our weekly shopping. We were hot, sweaty, and satisfied with the great experience, breezing through the shopping with relative ease, ending up in the air-conditioned supermarket, the only location in Fiji we’ve visited with AC.

Rushing waters in the creek below the waterfall.

Rasnesh had to pick up a traveler from the airport giving us more time in the market than we needed with its only three aisles. While shopping, we met a lovely couple our age, she was from Florida, USA and he was from Canada, who’d been sailing their catamaran in the world’s sea over the past eight years, soon to settle on the Big Island in Hawaii. A lively conversation ensued, making the wait for Rasnesh fly by.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with a new story which will include our final photos of the Vuadomo Waterfall including photos of us (at long last) and our guides. With many more yet-to-be shared photos from this and other outings, we don’t expect to run out. Especially, when in three days, we’ll be out again and in five days, we’re off to celebrate our three year’s long travel anniversary with many new photos of our upcoming celebration and tour of Namale Resort.

Happy day!

                                         Photo from one year ago today, October 26, 2014:

We drove to Lahaina, the most popular tourist town in Maui, surprised by how few tourists we spotted on the streets. The Hawaiian Islands are most busy during the winter season in the northern hemisphere, especially closer to the holiday season. For more details, please click here.

 

Part 3…Unbelievable day in Fiji…A cultural experience filled with wonders!…

 

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

When we think of how easy we have it; stores from which to purchase food and supplies, means of transportation, sources of entertainment and the income and ability to purchase items that which makes life more convenient, we stop and reflect on how fortunate we are.

As they say, “everything is relative” which may mean that everything is quantifiable in terms of each individual’s perception or opinion. Perhaps for villagers throughout the world living in a modest self sustaining environment, they are as comfortable in their existence as we are in ours.

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

As much as many would like to believe, “in a perfect world” we all deserve the exact same degree of life’s comforts. But, us humans have grown through generations under varying conditions to which we’ve become adapted, not unlike the animal kingdom.

Other handmade rafts were ready for fishing along the inlet.

Our higher power or whatever we believe or not, didn’t create us to be identical. Otherwise, we’d all look exactly alike. Whether we were created by a god or evolved through millennium, we are different for many reasons, not always known to us, not intended to be known to us, hopefully to be respected and treated equally by us.

In time and space we find our human selves possessing a powerful tendency to make the best of it. No doubt, some fall behind, there again for unknown reasons and some reach out a helping hand as typical of the Fijian people. No one is left to flounder unaided by their fellow women and men.

A pig and a few ducks living off the land and sea.

They are happy in their existence, unfettered by worries of working technology, (other than their ability to communicate through the modern use of cell phones), unencumbered by bank balances, the success of a portfolio or the growth of a retirement fund. 

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.

Retirement itself is a non-issue. When one becomes too old or disabled to care for themselves others step in to provide care and sustenance. There are only three nursing homes in Viti Levu, Fiji, none on this island of Vanua Levu.

As we drove down the road to the village, passing an old man, Rasnesh yelled out the window, “Bula, Tutu,” which translates to “Hello, Grandfather.” No, the old man wasn’t Rasnesh’s grandfather. He was an old man, weathered and tattered walking down the road with a big smile on his face, waving at us foreigners as if he knew us as well. We returned the waves, arms flailing out the car window, shouting heartfelt greetings of “bula!”

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

The Fijian people regard one another as all related to one another, to love, to nurture and to care for as we’ve mentioned in a prior post. We’re still reeling from this heavenly (literally, heavenly) cultural anomaly in the today’s modern society.

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

As we wandered through the village, we reveled at the natural resources the villagers of Vuadomo have utilized, not abused, in an unfettered and sustaining manner. Weren’t such resources were made available for all of us to use gently, not consume with a voracity that destroys their ongoing future existence and value for generations to come?

Oh, this could get political. I’ll shy away from that context, stepping back from pontificating on these delicate topics. Except, forgive me for adding, that in this day and age we have the human intellect and technology to develop new means of power and fuel and yet politics stand in the way. 

Seeing this starving puppy broke our hearts. We must accept that in Fiji and many other parts of the world, dogs are not regarded with the same love and care familiar to many of us. Their function is for protection, not intended as a pet. Although, 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. 

I’ll put the soapbox back under the sofa saving it for conversations between Tom and I. We’ve found it best to be “apolitical” here, as one of our readers wrote to us in the past month, agreeing we’re best to continue to maintain such a stance.

Papaya grow prolifically in Fiji and are a staple in the Fijian diet.

These people lead a simple life, joyful in their surroundings, powerful in their religious beliefs, strong in their familial ties and able to nourish their bodies, hearts and minds in an uncluttered lifestyle, leave us holding them in high regard with memories we’ll always treasure.

This, dear readers, is what makes our travels so meaningful and powerful to us, as we as individuals and as a couple “living in the world” find personal growth and fulfillment we never imagined in our older years.

Tima offered us the use of this public restroom they’d built for visiting tourists as our last stop before heading into the rainforest for the steep and rocky trek to the waterfall.

There is no old building or bungee jump that could fill our hearts with such reverence and respect. For this, we are eternally grateful. For this, we accept our limitations in our travel knowing full well that ultimately these experiences, these memories, will continue to shape us as human beings long into the future.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with the trek through the rainforest to the Vuadomo waterfall with many more photos!


                                               Photo from one year ago, October 25, 2014:

Although we never stay in the direct sun for more than 45 minutes, we loved the time we spent by the unheated pool at the condo in Maui. For more details, please click here.

 

 

Part 1…Unbelievable day in Fiji…A cultural experience filled with wonders!

The Fish Shop where we purchased the kava for the chief.

When Rasnesh picked us up yesterday morning, the sun was shining and we were set for more sightseeing.  After the first 20 minutes in the car, the clouds rolled in and it began to rain.  We weren’t deterred. 

Rasnesh explained that prior to visiting the village of Vuadomo, we’d stop in Savusavu to purchase the customary Fijian intoxicating Kava, for $5, USD $2.29, to bring to the village as a gift for the chief who would provide permission for us to visit the waterfall and his village. 

There are several ATMs in Savusavu easily assessable from either side of the road.

Low on cash, we stopped at an ATM when we’d also need cash to pay the chief the entrance fee to the waterfall of FJD $10 USD $4.59 per person.  Cash in hand, we walked the short distance to the local Fish Shop to purchase the kava.  We never noticed any fish in the shop with its two pool tables and hanging and drying kava plants and a variety of kava “paraphernalia.”

The kava, a brown powdery substance, is made in the same manner as loose tea.  Its steeps for 10 to 15 minutes, and is stained before drinking.  See this website for more details on the modern day preparation of kava. 

Shalote, one of our two housekeepers, explained that the locals also purchase kava from this shop.  Rasnesh explained he doesn’t partake due to his religious beliefs, although many locals of strong faiths feel comfortable in enjoying the relaxing benefits of this potent drink.

Although our visit to the village wasn’t specifically to witness a kava drinking ceremony, the villagers frequently partake in the drinking of this “beverage” for its intoxicating effects, as one would partake of alcoholic beverages.

Actually, we were somewhat relieved that our visit didn’t include a kava drinking ceremony.  Tom’s picky taste buds would surely prevent him from wanting to try the drink and I steer clear of anything intoxicating for health reasons.

Pool tables in the Fish Shop where kava is purchased.  Note the hanging kava branches along the wall.  Fijian people rarely drink alcoholic beverages but, may on occasion, drink a beer after kava.

Many tourists choose to participate in the traditional kava drinking ceremonies as a “tourist attraction” offered by local tour operators.  Rasnesh explained there is only one local tribe offering the ceremony that he’s aware of on this area of the island which must be arranged in advance.

Kava powder in hand, as shown in this photo below, we were back on the road to our destination stopping at many points for photos.  Along the way, the rain stopped and although the sun didn’t return until later in the day, we were thrilled to be out once again. 


Kava branches were hanging to dry.

It was a fairly long drive from the main highway to the village, where we meet several villagers and had an opportunity to have Tima show us what life is like in a small Fijian village tucked away in the rainforest with easy access to the riches of the ocean bordering their property; fresh fish, crabs and shrimp.

Vuadomo is a small village down on long and steep dirt road where 80 villagers reside, most related to one another, with only a few children in residence. 

The chief owns the land where the village is located making this experience especially interesting to us.  Visitors arrive daily and the fees charged for access to the village and waterfall aid in providing the village with a source of income. 


This is the bag of kava we purchased to bring to the chief as a gift, asking for permission to see his village and the waterfall on his land in Vuadomo.

Upon our arrival, we were shown an open area where several locals women sat on mats showing their jewelry and crafts hoping tourists will make a purchase.  Instead of making a purchase for items we didn’t need or want, we chose to leave a tip with Tima at the end of our visit.

The tribal women spoke excellent English and we engaged in idle conversation with several of them when they asked us where we were from.  They suggested, as traditional, that we sit on the bench and relax for a bit.  We did so, enjoying a cool breeze in the sticky humidity while we sat on the bench in quiet contemplation, reveling in the peaceful surroundings.


Apparently, these bags contain a kava mix.  See this link for more information on the processing of kava which is done throughout the world, including in the Hawaiian Islands.

After awhile, Tima escorted us on a tour of the village.  Her grandfather, the chief, waved to us while he was working on the exterior his house.  Preferring not to disturb him, we continued on as shown in this photos in awe of the simplicity of their everyday lives while intrigued with their resourcefulness and their gratefulness for their lives. 

These “wrappers” are used for those who prefer to smoke kava.

Tima, 23 years old, explained that when the day came that she’d find a husband and have a family of her own, she’d relocate to her husband’s village.  We wondered how she’d possibly meet someone when this particular tribe didn’t pre-arrange marriage.  We chose not to ask respecting their privacy and customs.

The cashier in the shop where we purchased the kava is behind this protective cage.  Although the crime rate is low in Savusavu and on this island in general, with the volume of money coming into this shop each day, the owners  must have felt such precaution is necessary.

Tomorrow, we’ll return with Part 2, for the story and photos of the village, the lifestyle of the villagers, and how they are able to sustain themselves on available resources.

_________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, October 23, 2014:

In the post, one year ago, we shared food prices in Maui at the largest grocery store in Kihei, a 20 minute drive from our condo where we continued to shop during the remainder of our stay.  For details, please click here.