Mike and Jamie are out spearfishing for wahoo with a local dude. So far, we are loving it in Fiji. As the days go by, we are finding out more about this island, Vanua Levu, and this place has a lot to offer. Yesterday, we went on an all day inland road trip with Totem. We hired a very reliable driver and drove through the lush rain forest in the morning, had lunch at a beautiful eco-agritourism lodge (Palmlea Lodge), and spent the evening at the sugarcane festival in Labasa (pronounced "Lambasa").
We stopped at a Hindu temple and found Ganesh (a popular Hindu God) in pink. With some difficulty, thanks to Behan, we visited the Wasavulu ceremonial site. This is a spot in the Lonely Planet guidebook, but not many locals seemed to know where it was. After giving a gift of kava to the chief, a young woman gave us a tour of the site, right in their backyard next to a family cemetery. Pointing to a flat stone, the woman spoke, in a matter-of-fact manner, "And here, we used to sacrifice people on this." Next, pointing to a stone with a divet in the middle, she said, "And here, the head was put to drain the blood to drink." In the meantime, the village women have fallen in love with the blond kids on Totem and can't seem to get enough of hugging them. Watching their interactions, I had a hard time picturing the stabbing a "cannibal fork (available in handicraft stores)" into another human being.
At the Sugarcane Festival, I ate cotton candy and got on sketchy rides together with six-year-olds. We were invited to sit with the locals under a tent to drink kava and hang out. We were told that Fijians consider Tongan kava to be "a lady's grog" and people in Vanuatu apparently consider Fijian kava the same weak sauce. We had enough time to watch one performance of music and dance which was super awesome before returning home at 11:30pm. The people we've met were genuinely friendly and easy to make friends with.
Good food at a cheap price is a welcome change from French Polynesia. It's interesting that whether you go to a Chinese or an Indian restaurant, the menu is identical: chicken/mutton curry, chicken/mutton fried rice, chicken/mutton chop suey & chow mein. And the curries are delicious!