Published on July 21st, 2012 | by Emma Hackwood0
The People of Fijian Paradise
When most people think of Fiji, they envision paradise beaches, breathtaking scenery and the true definition of an exotic vacation. But for Justina, the kind people of Fiji are what truly captured her and changed her view on this South Pacific destination. She shares her experience with us:
My recent trip to Fiji was by far one of the very best I have ever been on. The beaches were so amazing I could go on forever. The pristine scenery was breathtaking; rolling rain-forested hills and open fields, lazy cows grazing, and the only signs of development takes the shape of sugar cane plantations. But the main reason I fell in love with this place is the people of Fiji.
They were truly some of the most kind hearted, welcoming people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. As an example of this unique culture, each time that our group arrived at a new resort, we would be greeted with a procession of locals eagerly waiting to greet us along with our host. They would instantly make us feel at home & shower us with gifts (such as necklaces & sarongs—called Sulu’s in Fiji).
When visiting the Mamanuca island group, each time we arrived at a new location, a greeting party would meet us at the dock, singing a welcoming song in beautiful melody with big smiles. The Fijians use the word “Bula” as their standard greeting. This word is a blessing, a greeting, and has many more meanings; it is similar to how “Aloha” is used in Hawaii. The resort staff that serenaded us during dinner produced surprisingly beautiful harmonious music. They encouraged our group to partake in a sing-along.
At Tokariki Island Resort we even had the pleasure of a farewell musical procession, which made it more difficult to leave such a wonderful place. They had interesting and unusual handmade instruments with seemingly simple designs yet delightfully played.
Our tour organizer and transfer bus service company, Pacific Destinationz, positively impacted the continuity of my trip. Their employees were not only extremely helpful and punctual but also very accommodating and a whole lot of fun. They organized and facilitated the best tour on our trip, far surpassing my expectations (we also rode in their brand new and comfortable vans). In many years of travelling where I felt insignificant and lost in the shuffle, (where the bus drivers would blurt out random facts about things we were speeding past), this company was very different.
One particular driver, Tom, was wonderful; he got our group engaged in his stories, told jokes and teased us for our pronunciation of Fijian language. He taught us how to say the words correctly so we didn’t end up accidentally say anything offensive. Tom was very informative and clearly loves his job. Tom and his colleague, Abbey, were equally hilarious, animated and full of life. This tour was a highlight for our entire group.
Upon arrival at Navua village we were instructed to dress in sulus, so that our ankles and shoulders were covered, to show respect for the villagers. There were a few small pre-school children there to welcome us in with tiny voiced “bula” greetings. We were directed into their community hall where we gathered on bamboo mats. The men of the village, dressed in warrior paint and grass skirts, included us in a traditional Fijian kava ceremony followed by a dance ancient performance.
As we walked through the village on our way down to the river we stopped at some of the school buildings where the students sang and danced for us. After a brief river boating adventure we disembarked the boats into quicksand like mud that left your skin feeling soft—the Fijian spa treatment.
We hiked for 5 minutes up to a stunning waterfall learning about the native plants along the way. As the rain let up we were already jumping through the waterfall into the healing waters for a relaxing swim. I plan to go back to Fiji in a few years with my family and will for sure be looking for Tom and the staff of Pacific Destination.
Looking for more information on travelling to Fiji? Justina Wilke is an International Travel Consultant at our Flight Centre Westshore location in Victoria, BC and can be reached by e-mail or calling 1-866-552-4049