Day 3 – Wednesday
We were all feeling more tired than ever and were actually quite glad there was a lot of driving involved. Today was our school visit and our traditional Sevusevu ceremony, to the boys it was the day they had to wear a skirt! We left the hotel and soon arrived at Suva, the capital of Fiji. The town did not look as bad as nadi and the shops did not feel as grey and dusty. We were told that the shopping centre would have everything that we needed so this time we did not have to venture past the men and women trying to lure us into their shops and off load tat that we did not need and probably would get stopped going through immigration. I had not bought any for the school as I guessed school stuff would be cheaper for me to buy here. For 30 exercise books and two large boxes of long pencils it cost about £4.50 in Fiji $13. A lot of people are on no more than $2 an hour so to them it is expensive going to school which is compulsory.
After paying 20 cents to go to the toilet which worked out as 6 pence or 11 aus cents or 12 nz cents and for that I was allocated a bundle of toilet roll. I would have been too embarrassed if I needed to ask for more. After that I negotiated the supermarket, which was a lot cleaner and better laid out compared to those in Nadi. Still not great choice of food but got more water and biscuits and headed back to the bus. Just before we met the villagers we stopped to but the sarongs on. The boys actually did not mind when we got there.
We were supposed to go to the village for food but being typical Fiji people it was Fiji time, so it was off to the school in Nasautoka. As we got of the bus the heavens opened. The children all headed towards the school hall which was just concrete with corrugated metal roof. The poor children on near the outer wall were getting dripped on but they did not mind, they sung 2 welcoming songs very enthusiastically, with big smiles on their faces. The quality of their uniform varied, but they all attempted to wear something green that covered their knees.
The children continued to do various dances, and but a lot of effort into it and were keen to be noticed, they all wanted to be at the front both boys and girls. They were all very happy and even got us involved in a dance well running round in a circle with arms and legs going everywhere. At first all five of us remained seated not wanting to look a fool, which I guess is norm in western society. After tripping up over Matt’s flip flop and making all the children smile we were allowed to sit down and present the children with the gifts we had bought.
At the end we then gave the school children a speech and what we had learnt from them. We then had a tour of the school (four class rooms for 6-13 year olds. They all had tables and teachers desks but not all had cupboards. There was a lot of work in English and teaching the children about valuing and respecting each other. Finally we left and headed over to the village hall for the Sevusey ceremony.
The Sevusev ceremony starts by you the appoint chief of the group asking for acceptance into the village. Since they had to be male we nominated Dan, much to Matt’s delight. Dan then had to ask permission to enter the village hall and who was the chief which sounded something like too-ranga nee koro . A half kilo bundle of waka is the appropriate (and required – you should never show up in a village without it!) Thankfully Amy had wrapped up a root in newspaper which looked like the shape of a rounders bat. Dan was special so he had to enter through a separate door but we still needed to each take off our shoes and say some like “do ar oo arh” basically it meant I am at the door, can I come in”.
We all entered the room and were given set positions around the room. Men sat cross legged and women with legs together at one side. Apart from the mats there was nothing else except the essential cava mixing bowl which looked like a giant pestle. The man behind the bowl said lots of chants as he made the mixture and then a man in a long grass skirt comes in with a long green branches and hovers it over the bowl. I was so glad I knew what we were in for with the taste (a peppery dirty water. It took a while to go round and give everyone there bowl of grey water as certain people had it twice. If somebody was receiving it you cup clapped 3 times and said bula before. If you were drinking it, it was one cup clap and the bula or “maca” which means empty. As time was getting on a second person came to give us a cup of cava to speed things up. This man must of read my mind as I only got a small bowl. After we had done the rituals we then left the room whilst lunch was prepared, which gave us chance to look and buy village crafts.
We then had to wash our hands and re-enter the room. We all sat on the floor and were told what we were about to eat and that it was traditional Fiji Food and we ate with our hands. Being veggie my only option was cucumber and some plant relating to spinach made into a baji or roll with egg and fried, it was passable but far from filling. I also had breadfruit which is bland and tasteless along with boiled Cassava which again needs flavour.
As we left to go to the river for Billbili rafting we got changed in somebody’s front room, all it had was a mat, a mirror and side table. There were a few pictures on the wall nothing else. Still with our sarongs wrapped round us we boarded the rafts, boys on one, girls on the other and took a leisurely ride back down the river. After that it was time to get changed and hop back on the bus to our hotel for the night. No soon than we did the heavens opened and winds blew. With a few hours before breakfast we were bound to our rooms and subject to either children dancing or the news.
After a quick run across the gardens, we made it to dinner. Seemed to take forever and a day to come, but at least it was hot and had taste. None of us were in the mood for drinking with the thought of the cyclone stopping our journey back to Nadi.