Friday, December 23, 2011

Guinea Pigs?

"You clap your hands, accept the cup, then you have to drink it all at once before you give the cup back," Matthew whispered to me as we sat cross legged watching the traditional kava ceremony in Fiji.  What he didn't tell me (that may have been nice to know) was that my mouth would go numb after drinking the kava.  It felt like I had just gone to the dentist!

The day began with our tour guide picking us up from our hotel and driving us to this small hut for the kava ceremony.  At that point we were unsure how the day would unfold.  Matthew and I were both along for the ride because we were told that some people were starting up a tourism business and needed some "guinea pigs" to try out a new tour experiencing the Fijian culture.  "Sure, why not?  Sounds like fun!"

After the kava ceremony we learned how these Fijians make salt.  There's a natural well from the ocean where they collect water then boil it until it becomes salt.  With no added chemicals, this salt was delicious.  Matthew and I decided to support their business and buy one of these bags of salt to bring home with us.

While unsure about whether our new salt purchase would make it through customs, we decided to go for it anyway.  We figured that whether it ended up home with us or not, at least we could support their new salt business.  I hoped for the best and kept envisioning using my new salt in all kinds of recipes.  

The good news is that the salt did clear through customs with us (although we received a few strange looks from the US customs officials along the way), but the sad news was that Matthew's bag was lost somewhere between Hawaii and California.  After a few days of the airlines being unable to locate his bag, we learned that it had fallen off a conveyor belt.  Thankfully a kind soul found it and called the number on the tag, found out where the bag needed to go and sent it over to us.  We were so relieved to receive the bag back but later realized that our package of salt was gone.  We assumed that it was removed when the bag went through security a second time to get the bag to us, because (who would have guessed) apparently this unmarked bag of white powder seemed questionable.  I know, crazy, right?  :)

Now back to Fiji...after the kava ceremony and the salt tour, we were taken on a drive over this small wooden bridge to go and explore a cave.

Now, I will just confess right off the bat that exploring caves, although it sounds exciting, is not really my idea of fun.  Being confined in a small dark place with bats and cockroaches and other such critters is not very appealing to me.  Since we were just the guinea pigs for this tour, I did not know what I was signing up for!

The hike to the cave was a little more intense than we were prepared for (with flip flops on my feet) but the scenery was beautiful.  It almost felt like hiking through a rain forest.  The cave ended up being quite large with a big entrance which was helpful to me because I did not like the idea of crawling or squeezing through tight spaces to get inside!  I took a deep breath, faced my fears and tried not to scream (or run away) when the cockroaches scurried or the bats circled overhead.  I will say that I was firmly clutching my flashlight in one hand and Matthew's arm in the other!

After the cave tour, we devoured the best pineapple I have ever eaten in my life!  Our day ended on a serene beach watching a group of horses including a baby foal.

On another day in Fiji, Matthew and I ventured out on our own to hike to some nearby sand dunes along the ocean.  It was another gorgeous hike and fun to explore together.

Walking along the sand was fun but as the day wore on, the sand became really hot under our feet.  After the dunes, you walk along the ocean then back through the forest to end the hike.  We enjoyed every minute!

The rest of our time in Fiji was spent relaxing at a small hotel by the ocean.  We found the place by randomly picking up a flyer at a hotel near the airport when we first arrived in Fiji, and it was perfect place for us.  It was a great place to relax and process all we had experienced in the past 19 countries for these many months.  The hotel manager was a sweet, helpful woman who even let Matthew use the hotel van and take her son to a surf spot.  She was a blessing to us.

After enjoying the sunset over the ocean for so many weeks in Bali, Thailand, and now Fiji, Matthew and I ended our amazing world tour by sitting together on the beach to enjoy one last beautiful last sunset. 

After a wonderful time in the 20th country of our trip, we were ready to go home.  First on the itinerary in the US, visiting family in California and Wisconsin before heading back to Colorado for Christmas.

One more blog post to come...a summary of our trip!

No comments:

Post a Comment