On the next day it was heaving it down once again. We played cards for hours with some friends we made. (Friends! Travelling friends! (sorry, couldn’t resist an inbetweeners joke there) )
We then decided to do the “barefoot hike” which was neither undertaken barefoot, or much of a hike as it lasted about ten minutes up a hill. Having said that, I still somehow managed to violently stub my toes resulting in a grimly bloody foot. Can’t take me anywhere! After a bbq lunch (much to Tom’s delight) we returned once again to the big boat and headed South, this time stopping at Naqalia Lodge.
Naqalia was a lovely family run resort. All the staff were somehow related, and were really friendly and hospitable. There were also three puppies at the resort! Such sweeties. My favourite was the runt called Pearl. She was so tiny and kept getting picked on by the other pups.
Once we were settled in our lovely room, we went for tea and met the other guests. After tea we took part in a kava drinking ceremony. (not cava as I at first thought!) Kava is a Fijian drink made from crushed pepper plant (as in salt and pepper not bell pepper) and mixed with water. Originally part of a sacred ceremony, it’s now more of a social thing. It looks and tastes like muddy water, but it makes your mouth and throat numb and helps you sleep at night – ideal for me! We had to choose how full our bowls were – “low tide” “high tide” or “tsunami.” I tried high tide but chickened out when it came to the tsunami business!
(Rhiannon, Charlotte and any other arachnophobes who happen to be reading this, you may wish to jump ahead a bit. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
After a good kava-induced sleep, we woke up to some more rain. I padded into our shower room and realised that the window was shut with lots of bugs trapped inside. As I was leaning to open the window and let them out, on the wall I saw the.biggest.fucking.spider.I.have.ever.seen.or.ever.hope.to.see.again.
Hand-sized, the stuff nightmares are made of. I screamed for Tom. Tom hates spiders, I don’t mind them too much, so perhaps it was a bit cruel of me but for some reason I just needed someone else to see it too! We blocked it in the bathroom and went for breakfast.
After breakfast, we went round the back of our hut to look in the shower room window to see where the spider was. Horror film style, the door was open!!!! For gods sake!! Aragog was now on the loose in our hut. As Tom tentatively brushed his teeth, I searched the room for the bastard but couldn’t find it anywhere. I looked for a weapon and my eyes fell upon the floor standing fan. Brilliant, I thought. If I see the bugger I’ll splat it with the fan. I lifted the fan to test out the weight and then THERE IT FUCKING WAS!! I screamed and it was on the loose again. I made Tom watch the spider (never seen someone look so terrified with a toothbrush in their mouth) whilst I went to get one of the Fijians. After chasing it around and under my bag (shudder) the hero of the story put his hand over the spider whilst it was on the floor. The image of legs sticking out from all sides of his hand will stay with me forever. He threw it out onto the beach and looking very unimpressed, told us that it was a “money spider” and “good luck”
Money spider????!!! Seriously?! Anyway. I deducted that if something is seen as “good luck,” it’s usually because it’s rare (being pooed on by a bird etc.) Oh, how I was wrong…
It was absolutely chucking it down all day, so not much to do, although we did drag ourselves up the big hill behind the resort. Tom was grumpy because he watched England loose in the rugby to Wales in a room full of Fijian Wales supporters. Ho hum.
(Looks happy doesn’t he?!)
(View of the resort from the top of the hill. We were staying in the pinky coloured spider hut.)
That evening we learnt a “traditional bula dance” – I put this in inverted commas because it was pretty much the macarena and part of me thinks it was dreamt up to make the travellers look like tits! We also did a limbo dance (I was the first one out surprise surprise) And then more kava. Just what I needed to get over Aragog Gate.
We got up early. I decided to skip the whole showering business after the previous day’s escapade.
We went out on a boat to a reef to swim with the reef sharks. With us were half of the Kiwi family staying at the resort, and a lovely Czech couple. On the way out to the reef, Nathan (from the resort) jumped out to go spear fishing to get some breakfast for the sharks.
We carried on to the reef, and all jumped in. The sharks were so cool! There was about six or seven of them, each around 1.5m long. It was so cool to see them lurking at the bottom and a bit scary when they came up to you. I touched the back of one of them (we were instructed to stay clear of their mouth) Nathan was going to feed them and I kept my distance as I was a teeny bit scared of them. I had my head underwater looking at the sharks on the bottom when I heard screaming.
I popped my head out of the water trying to figure out what was going on to see Rebecca with her arm out of the water literally dripping in blood. I couldn’t see her dad anywhere and she’d asked me to be her snorkelling buddy so I was holding her out of the water trying to figure out what was going on. We all got back on the boat and headed back to land. It turns out she’d been really close to Nathan as he was feeding the swarming sharks, she’d moved her arms backward whilst treading water and had come between a shark’s mouth and the food. Wow! Never a dull day in Fiji eh? Luckily Rebecca’s mum is a doctor so she patched her up, and she was absolutely fine.
The rest of the day was a little bit surreal. We played cards and chilled out. I went to our hut to go to the loo, and guess what? ANOTHER SPIDER. I’ll call this one Shelob. Tom and I realised that we couldn’t ask for help again without looking like a total pair of pansies, so we threw a bath mat at it, put our walking boots on and somehow shooed it back out of the hole it came through. Joyous. I spent the rest of our stay using the outside loo that was only populated by geckos – much more manageable!
The next day, we went on a boat trip to the local village to meet the children at the school. The kids all sang to us, which was lovely, and we got to see their classrooms and learn about their lessons and how the school day is run. They don’t have electricity at the moment but are currently fundraising for solar power. Interestingly, all the displays in the classroom are in English. When I asked about it, the teacher explained that the lessons are taught in English with lots of explanation in Fijian. The kids seemed really happy, and I enjoyed seeing them all collect plastic plates and head across the field for their lunch.
When we got back to the resort, I learnt how to do some traditional Fijian weaving and with a lot of help, made this bracelet! It was nice chatting with the women about how I knit jumpers at home, although they’d be pretty useless in Fiji.
We then got the big boat back to the mainland, checked in at our hostel, went out for a bizarre meal and then had an early bed before our flight to New Zealand the next day.