The Fijian people are always smiling, waving, and shouting "Bula!" This means 'Hello' but is also basically wishing you Health and Happiness. How perfect for a group such as ours. Monica held yoga classes all but one bright and early morning. This yoga schedule was a challenge for me as I never seemed to get to bed at a reasonable hour. There was just too much to pack into the short days. An Aussie yogi pal of ours, Jackie, and her hubby Roger, moved to Fiji about 6 months ago and were our resident guides. On a very rainy day out in Pacific Harbour we swapped our schedule a bit and arranged for a trip into Suva. Roger and Jackie made sure we saw the sites and hit the best shops. We also had a lovely lunch at the Holiday Inn. The rain gave way to a beautiful sunny day in Suva- just for us. I must mention that Fijian taxi drivers are quite similar to drivers I've had in Asia and the roads are pretty rough. Suffice to say that riding in the very front was more than a little exciting at times.
The majority of our group did a day trip called the Pearl of Fiji. It is a boat trip up the Navua river to a waterfall. Along the way you spend a few hours in a local village and get to join in a kava ceremony. I actually love kava... it is made from a pepper type plant and turns your lips and mouth numb. I didn't drink enough to feel any of the stronger effects but may get that opportunity this weekend at a Fiji reunion here in Redcliffe to celebrate Nese's birthday. Bula Vinaka!
Karen with Fun in Fiji has been raising money for the Deuba Village school. A few weeks ago the Simply Yoga crew held a huge yard sale and raised some bucks to help buy some school supplies and chip in towards a library. Visiting the school was the highlight of my trip. I could have spent most of my time there and wish I had a month to hang out and volunteer. Deuba School has about 150 kids and 8 teachers. They range from years (grades) 1-8. The teachers were kind and amazing. Watching the kids play and interact with us and each other was great fun. Some of the mums made us a morning tea that was not only yummy, it was beautifully presented. We also had a kava ceremony to welcome us upon arrival. Did I mention I love kava??? We split up in groups of 3 yogis to visit classes. My group stopped in to grade 8 and a grade 1. In grade 8 we asked if anyone had questions for us about Australia. One soft spoken young girl asked "do you notice the effect of climate change in Australia?" We were blown away! We described the changes to the oceans and particularly the Great Barrier Reef among other things. What the bigger kids enjoyed most was looking at Aussie money. In the Grade 1 class we helped reinforce new English words and talked about kangaroos. We hopped like kangaroos, led some yoga poses and sang songs. Everyone had big smiles for us and we of course smiled even bigger smiles back.
One day, even with a headache from 4 hours of dancing the night before and possibly an excessive number of shots, I was determined to see some of what I knew was an amazing amount of underwater life in Fiji. We were not on a reef at our resort but the guys that ran the gear shop pointed out a "stick" a ways out in the water and said, "there is a reef where you can snorkel." I talked Helen, Monica, and Andreas into joining me. Monica and Andy went out on the 2 man kayak. Helen and I shared a one man (two woman?) kayak. Let's just say we made it out there. None of us are sure how far it was... but, it was much further than we thought! The reef was amazing and made me want to return to Fiji to dive in the near future. Fish of all shapes and colours, even a family of clownfish hiding in an anemone. I didn't have any dive buddies in the yogi group but I certainly found 3 crazy folk to join me on this adventure. Helen and I were really struggling with getting our kayak back so Andy and Monica towed us most of the way. I wish I had video of this little escapade. Just know that although I didn't attend yoga that morning, I certainly got a workout.
I need to give a shout out to the folks at Uprising Resort! What a great staff! What a fun place to stay. The accommodations were beautiful and clean, the food was great and the pina coladas cold and tasty. If you make it to Fiji, try a cold Vonu Beer on tap. It is one of the local Fijian beers and Vonu means "turtle." Anything to do with turtles is all right by me. Oh, and make sure you get a Fijian massage while listening to the waves gently lapping the shore.
This trip has inspired me to continue my quest to get back to working with kids one day in the not too distant future. Thanks to Monica and Karen for the opportunity to share this wonderful adventure. Vinaka!!