April 18, 2009
April 11th –
The weather has been excellent so far this trip and until we came here we had only had one day of rain since New Year. We also knew that we were coming here to Fiji at the end of the rainy season, so we can’t complain if it rains…….. but we’re in a place where there is not a lot to do except sit in the sun, so if this blog is focused on the weather, that’s the reason.
We are on the south coast at the Bedarra Beach Inn – it’s virtually on a narrow beach, looks out over the reef and is surrounded by palm trees. We are in the Honeymoon Suite!!! Don’t ask how (we don’t know!) but its certainly given rise to lots of comments from the staff. We have tiny resident gekkos, two balconies, a ceiling fan and a great shower. No TV anywhere in the hotel.
For the first 2 days, heavy grey clouds hurtled across the sky propelled by a really strong, really warm wind. The tall palm fronds were whipped into a frenzy and the breaking surf on the reef added to the swishing noise of an English storm. But it’s warm. Very warm We lazed on deck chairs, buffeted, as if by a tumble drier (on the hottest setting) looking over the lagoon and reef. I told Eddie not to sit under the coconuts (remember Keith Richard). He ignored me. A coconut bounced off the tree and missed him by inches. Eddie believes I made it happen with my super powers, just so that I would be right.
Every so often there was a heavy downpour. Usually a very heavy downpour.
Every so often, from a tiny break in the clouds, a fierce sun emerged for 20 seconds, seared the top layer of skin from our bodies and disappeared again.
On the 3rd day it rained seriously. For most of the day. But it was still warm. Very warm. And humid. Very humid. We sat and watched sheets of water pour down while each and every strand of my hair frizzed manically.
We took a taxi and explored the local town. It took two hours and there was really nothing to see, just shops desperate for our custom. The railway bridge had collapsed in the serious floods of January and we were told stories of the main road being under 7 metres of water in places….it’s still full of potholes and we saw damaged houses.
On Day 4 we read the Fiji newspaper – that was an eye opener – several articles not printed and a stamp over the empty space saying ’Removed because of Government restrictions’ . Church groups figured in several stories and there were lots of indignant letters about the collapse of civilisation because of youthful disturbance. Not dissimilar to Ashton really.
The people are so unfailingly cheerful. Every time we leave our room we are met with a chorus of ‘Bula’ from every single person. The hotel is full of men and women in colourful, flowery shirts who simply can’t do enough for us and who sound as if every day is just the best day ever. A small group of musicians entertain us every evening (during Happy Hour) and they are just lovely – the Fijian songs are haunting but my favourites are Elvis classics ‘I can’t help falling in love with you’. and ‘Are you lonesome tonight?’
The staff all remind us of Fiji time which is time to relax…their clock on the wall has numbers in the wrong order and in a jumbled heap at the bottom of the clockface . They have a Scrabble set which is great and a lot of books which are really not my sort of book at all, but I am working my way through them dispiritedly and plan to write a bodice ripping bestseller on return**.
We found somewhere to go on Day 5. The eco park was just a short walk away. Of course, now that we were going out it was sunny. We were greeted by a parrot that said “Hello Darling”, iguanas that crawled over our shoulders and hair, a boa that slithered over our arms, experimentally flexing to constrict our hands and the most beautiful turtles who ate everything we were allowed to feed them. It was a well kept, educational place…we were taught about how to use native plants for everything from baldness to tooth ache to digestive problems…and even how to revive someone who has tried to hang themselves by pushing certain leaves up their nose while holding them upside down. That’ll come in useful.
I was finding this enforced relaxation a little too much so I started my bodice ripper.
**Stacey stepped from the minibus and looked around her with a smile. Strawberry blonde tendrils escaped from her sun hat and blew fetchingly around her slightly freckled face as she gazed at the hotel where she planned to spend 2 weeks doing nothing more demanding than reading the latest offerings from the Richard and Judy Book Club. “Bula! Welcome” called the manager, bustling over to collect her suitcase. “Please sit and drink your complimentary cocktail as we check your booking”. Stacey sipped the pleasantly cool concoction as she eyed the other guests. Several older couples were chatting animatedly about their visit to a pottery that afternoon, a family with two excited toddlers headed for the pool, a young couple entwined in a corner seat whispered quietly to each other and she felt a momentary pang of jealousy. If only…. no, she would not allow her thoughts to continue., she would be strong and move on. Her lip trembled slightly. “Miss Calvin, your room is ready , Number 65”. Startled, she tipped her glass, spilling the contents onto the low table. A smooth, muscular tanned arm leant over to rescue her drink, a velvety deep voice told her not to worry and she looked up into the depths of the deepest blue eyes she had ever seen.
Day 6 – another grey but warm day. We kayaked in the lagoon, we saw tiny electric blue fish in the coral. We did crosswords, played scrabble again, conversed with the 2 owners, discovered lots about Fiji, the coups, the Indo-Fijian balance, their opposing philosophies, the economy….we gave them some good ideas for marketing their rather empty hotel. We were almost serenaded because we were leaving tomorrow but we aren’t, so they delayed it amidst much giggling because they had made a mistake.
Heavy cloud but at the risk of succumbing to total inertia, we risked a walk and got absolutely sodden. Sodden. Thoroughly and completely sodden. But the light was lovely. I’ve made a list of some of the things we have done to entertain ourselves. We have; used dental floss to fish from the rocks; counted the number of songs about rain (45 and counting) ; made a raft out of driftwood, tied a sarong on as a sail and tried to paraglide over the reef so we could sail back to New Zealand; played a ridiculous number of word games; taught our resident gekkos to chase, catch and return cracker crumbs; created a game which requires huge dexterity and a complex scoring system…it involved throwing my knickers onto the revolving ceiling fan and seeing how long they last and how far they then fly. The last was the most fun.
Day 8.…..Tomorrow we fly from Nadi Airport to Los Angeles and we arrive 9 hours before we set off…how back to the future!! Then we begin the last road trip of our World Tour.
P.S. The Bodice Ripper ends with the apparent villain (who is really the good guy of course though he doesn‘t tan well and it takes until the last chapter to find out who he is ) coming to rescue her from the floods in his yacht. She, however, has by then single handedly rescued an entire village by building a dam from coconut husks, taught them how to make and sell a world cure for baldness, thereby saving the community from a fate worse than death (I.e.becoming a tourist attraction) and flown off to New Zealand with Tracey the Manager of the Spa, her freckles glowing in anticipation.