I'm still in beautiful Fiji for one more night but by the time I get to send this out to you I'll be in Sydney. Reason being, just now I went to the desk at this place I'm staying at in Nadi to ask about internet here and the girl told me "The bees are in there".... so there we go! You've just had to wait as the bees are doing their thing in the internet room! Right now I'm sitting waiting for dinner with my laptop tapping away. Usually I wouldn't bring my laptop to the dinner table. A book would suffice but there's rugby blasting from the 10 foot TV screen at this place I'm staying in for a night and 3 cats circling me waiting to get some tasty fish from the meal I just ordered. I don't know how they knew but...when I ordered the dish "Ika Vakalolo" (a fijian dish of white fish cooked in Coconut milk- today the fisherman caught Walu just off the beach here) they came prancing right up. Ok...so i've just eaten dinner and I probably should have given it to the cats but the local rum punch is very good and my camper than a row of tents waiter, Aisake, is hilarious. Just here in Nadi for a night to catch my Australia bound flight early morning.
Anyway...for the past 4 days I've been floating on the "garden island" of Taveuni. It is so beautiful. The flowers just hanging around at every turn are enough to make any gardening enthusiast green with envy! Such bright and brilliant colours. So of course there were a bazillion things I should have done on the island namely SNORKELING! I know...don't hate me...I just didn't do any. People come from all over the world to go snorkeling in these waters. I messed up. I know. Total wasted opportunity. Bad, bad me. Big fat Homer DOH!
Let me tell you what I HAVE been doing though! There is so much to tell. Even just the flight in was amazing. In a small 16 seater winged tin for 80 mins over pristine many shaded blue pacific coral friendly waters. When I arrived at the airport on Taveuni (just caught the connection as my flight was so badly delayed from Honolulu) i was greeted by the lovely Buna who had a taxi waiting to take me to my new little home for the next few days. So we drove out the airport home to 4 plane visits a day to the house and literally...the opposite side of the street was the entrance! Rather funny. I was gearing up for at least 20 mins in the taxi, taking in the sights, smells and sounds. But...Nand (our driver) did show me the local shop so I could go by there later and get some food for my stay. When we pulled up by the house, Sepo burst into traditional fijian song accompanied by his guitar. That's what I call a welcome! He was in a band over here called the "Maravu Band Boys". Great harmonies. I had a listen to his CD.
Then the house. Well actually, the view. coz that's all I could look at. I couldn't take anything else in. it was just so breathtakingly gorgeous. I've just realized that I didn't take a picture of it! Shameful. Here's a still from my video camera. I was taking footage for, well, I'm not quite sure what yet...but I'm shooting it anyway.
After unpacking, I biked down on one of the two functional, but teeny bikes that belonged to the house, to the local shop to get provisions. Gathered in some canned goods, rice and some apples. Lots of apples as this was the only fresh matter I could find. When I cycled on from the shop to explore I realized why...because this is another place in the world where fruit is just dripping off the trees. Never mind being knocked down by a car (I think I crossed paths with one in an hour) it's the coconuts. You're a gonner if the world's biggest nut collides with you cranium! I carried on the road after it turned into dirt and cycled up the hill a bit (not easy on a bike that small!). People here seemed to live well. Healthy, cheerful. well fed, coz if you're hungry, look to the trees! The road toads however, don't do so well. There were quite a few steamrolled casualties. Some looked mummified. I guess not even the wild pigs fancy these guys. All on one side of me, the still, glassy ocean outstretched to the earth's curve, dotted with paradisal islands. Fishermen catching the dish of the day. I was calm again.
That evening, I decided to go and check out this place a couple of doors down. It was a restaurant and I entered in true Heap style...by slipping onto the freshly laid cement path and completely ruining it! In my defense, there wasn't a sign to warn unsuspecting people like me. i apologized profusely and all was in true Fijian style, totally cool. There were 4 guys seated on the floor equipped with 4 guitars, one was a Ukelele. Little bit of trivia for you...Ukulele in Hawaiian translates as "Jumping flee". Liam told me that (read Aloha! to find out about him). They were seated in a circle around a big wooden bowl containing some murky brown liquid I soon discovered to be Kava. A customary drink. As far as I understand, It's made by taking the root of the Kava plant, drying it, pummeling it and then putting it in a muslin pouch. Then I think you just soak it in water and hey presto! I should read up on it really...as soon as I get to somewhere where the bees are not. I didn't take any pictures that night sadly but here's what looks to be an ornamental Kava bowl in the entrance of the resort here.
We shook hands, they offered me a drink out of the little wooden cup everyone shared, I of course accepted (have I ever not?!), besides...it would be rude not to. All 4 clapped about 3 times each, slowly afterwards. It gave a slight tingling in the mouth. A little numbing. I had a large smile on my face after that...could well just have been down to the gorgeous harmonies that were mingling among us. They sang and played all night. I almost didn't want to go and sit down to eat coz it meant I'd be 10 feet away from them. The food here was mouthwatering. My favourite was Rourou soup. mm mmmmm! I ordered it for starters as I had no idea what it was. Always a good start. The lady told me it was like spinach, It kinda was but it had a more bitter, chilli type taste also. Hard to describe. I'm going to hunt it down in London and try to cook with it. Apparently it can make your throat itchy if you don't prepare it correctly though. A nice New Zealand couple offered me a seat at their table as I was dining alone. At first I politely declined
A. coz i'm a bit shy,
B. coz i don't mind eating alone at all and
C. coz I was feeling guilty about not having written anything substantial or a few days and had my notepad and pen at the ready.
But after talking to them anyway from across the paving I decided it was silly and went over there to "quiz you on Taveuni and find out what I should be doing". It was a good chat. They'd done a lot of traveling by the sounds of it.
After dinner, we went and sat down with the boys again, they call themselves the Quelu brohers named after their village. I couldn't help it. All that beautiful music just really made me want to sing! I asked if it would be ok to join in and "jam" with them. The result wasn't my best but I had fun whilst making a mess of it. Their phrasing is so different to what I'm used to singing in my own songs. We stayed right to the end. I shared out the rest of my bottle of wine from dinner between the boys.
I was so whacked, I went straight to bed after that. Lot's of traveling, Kava and half a bottle of wine did that to me. Before I fully got under the covers I got out my field recording mics I bought for Tanzania. I wanted to record the sound of the night. The frogs and crickets. I plugged it in, put my headphones on, put it in record and instantly fell asleep. I woke up with lights on, fan off, all geared up. I was actually really excited about the thought of hearing myself go to sleep. You never remember "just" going to sleep. That exact moment. I really wanted to listen to it...maybe I said some cool stuff..but I didn't actually have it in record. There we go. Can't get it right all the time. :) I got some recordings of the night another time.
The next day, I wanted to go kayaking. Part of the reason of me choosing this little house in particular was, it was on the water and had kayaks. So, off I went. Factor 25 head to toe into the blue. I was out there for ages. I saw the couple from the night before around the way a little. They were collecting coconuts amongst the freshly beached collection of pumice stone that had washed up overnight. I saw it from the air coming in and wondered what these long trails of brown were on the ocean beneath. So it turns out there's been a volcanic eruption somewhere in the pacific and this is what's come from it. Amazing to think that only a few days ago, these stones were lava bubbling beneath the earth's crust. It was fun to kayak over patches of them. They made a nice crackling sound against the plastic bottom. Once I'd paddled about a bit close to home, I was beginning to feel a bit more adventurous. So...you see those two similar sized islands behind me in that image, well beyond that there's a pearl farm. When I saw it flying in and thought it was someone's house. I wanted to go and have a look. As I was heading over I heard splashing sounds in the water around me. I thought it was just my paddling but then when I stopped and looked around a huge fish leaped out the water and continued to skim and jump along the surface. Amazing! About 20 skims. It had a really sharp nose. Then another, then another! I was a little concerned one may fly into me by accident. I think i'd probably be worse off but they may have some trouble reversing out. This got me to look down. Into what I was paddling over. Amazing electric blue and green fish. Scurrying around in the other world. I really wanted to get in...but...i didn't have any "boat shoes" and coral may look pretty but it has weapons to make sure things keep off. Plus I had my mobile phone with me so I could take pics for us, like these.
As i was kayaking toward it I was thinking wouldn't it be amazing if there was a gorgeous man, just waiting for me when i got there. Some young, handsome pearl boy in his shack on the water. Obviously that's not gonna happen right? As I got closer I noticed a motorboat leaving and two figures in it. By the time I'd got to the shack they'd made there way back and...guess what! There were two really gorgeous pearl hunter boys! Now a lush body is not first thing I look for in a man at all but these were two very fine specimens I must say. They were enough to make me blush, say Bula and make a sharp left turn like I had somewhere else to be. Luckily for me there was an island dead ahead of me now and I made my way toward it purposefully. I was in a right fluster. Isn't it odd how just somebody's body can make you behave? I felt really silly that I couldn't at the very least have had a small exchange of words.
So there I was now...heading for this island. Further away from home now. If you look on the picture again at the top the island is the smallest one to the far left. I saw it had a tiny golden beach and thought not such a bad place to end up. Closer still I clocked a straw roofed, open sided hut with a table and 2 chairs underneath it. I figured it must be someone's private island and kayaked around it (took about 3 mins) to check for signs of human habitat. I couldn't see a house, so thought...why not? and parked up on the beach. What a find! And weirder than it being there in the first place, this perfect island ready for writing with a table, chair and shade got me 5 bars of signal on my mobile phone! I hadn't had signal anywhere on the mainland. So I rang my mum and dad to say hi. I didn't realize it was 1am though. I made a little movie...i am red faced and my right eyebrow does what it always does and curls under...but hey.islandspot.mov
and i found this one also...Kayak_immi_day_1.mov
So i did go back there quite a few times. Here's a couple of other videos I took. I think I'm a little bit overly worried here about my red face as I've mentioned it three times and it doesn't even look that red. Kayak_movie_day_2.mov
So...wow...it's only 1pm on the first full day in Fiji. I can't carry on like this! I'm in Sydney now...I think i'm going to have to let the pics and movies spell it out. I've got dinner in 30 mins with some old pals, Alex and Hi. Also meeting Aya who's been helping me get together the Japanese part of the trip.
I got back for 1pm as I'd ordered a taxi. William (my taveunian taxi driver) took me to a few places. We came upon this church which was rather bizarre. It was the first building i'd seen over 1 story high anywhere on the island. Surrounded by green cut grass. I felt like I'd walked into the village green by where I grew up. I lucked out as the kid's school were doing a rehearsal for Palm Sunday. So I got to hear 500 kids sing! Good timing William. They were reciting bits from the bible. Some of them only about 5 years old. I always find that odd. At that age, reciting passages from the bible. I could only just understand playground talk at that age never mind that big old book. I doubt somehow they understand what they're reading too. It pleases the parents though. Plus, reciting in English. The singing was lovely though.Kids_singing.mov
Then we went to the international date line. Here I could be either -12hours of back home or +12 hours ahead of them. I could be in both yesterday and today. Exaclty 180 degres from London GMT.
Then we went on from there and i bought William some nice lunch. He took me to his cousin's cafe and we had a rather tasty chicken curry. He talked to me about his faith. He was very open minded. Also about Ratulala, who's the chief on Taveuni. Also about his wife, who ran away with another man. Poor guy. He's cool though. Time heal's and all that. We past "the first shop in the world to open"...just in case you were wondering what it looked like.
Erm...ok. So i'd really better go now. As far as writing on this beautiful island I've discovered, apart from Paradise, that it's also not so good for the old creative juices! Something about that big wide canvas with no edges alive and well in the big wide blue (If you're scratching your head...this was explained in an earlier blog). Not to worry though. I came up with a really happening musical ditty to write something into. Started off by me "jamming" to the crickets of the night before. There was a hum of the generator in the distance that was a low Eb (E flat) so I started to play along. I've got melody and feel but just no lyrics. There's time enough though. I recorded a little bit of me going on about this lyrical no-thing...but I'm not going to show that now. I want to put it all together for you once I'm done with the writing of the album. I did however see a little lizard crawling on my laptop as I was recording in the footage I'd just recorded into imovie and wanted to talk about it. It reminded me of an earlier lizard encounter....I saw one who'd obviously been scared by a predator...here's the rest. It's super bad quality as I'm in a rush now...I had to crank up the brightness as i recorded it at night with only a little light.quick_release_tail.mov
Here's one last image from my last night on the ocean just before putting the kayak to sleep. I was sad to leave but am looking forward to the next stage!
Right. Love fluv and all that...I've gotta get a wriggle on. xxx immi xxx
Oh I lied...
Here's one of Buna at the airport on my way out of there yesterday.
And after that an aerial on the way out of where I was.
p.s.There's probably loads of spelling misteaks as no time for spell check!