Hot and humid as it was, we had no air conditioning on the bus. The windows opened to about half way, the door of the bus was broken, the seats were wooden and hard. The harbor area teamed with people. A blaring orchestra greeted us with Fijian music. Loudspeakers turned on full strength. Welcome to Suva, the Capital of Fiji. Yet all the people had a smile on their faces and for them this is Fijian life. This small city is crammed with 85,000 people. It feels crowded. Since it was a Saturday the stores were all busy, the bus depot was full of buses coming and going. The market spilled over with farmers offering their products. Tomorrow, Sunday, the whole island and all the stores will be closed. Sunday is church day. It seems everybody goes to church on Sundays. After church, food will be served and the whole of the extended family gets together to feast. Everybody cooks something and all is shared.
We are on the bus for about one hour out of town. The town is spread out from the heavily populated center to suburban kind of housing on the outskirts. No, not Americans suburbs, Fijian suburbs. Hurricanes and storms ran amok along the coast, floods bring rainwater down the mountains that cover huge areas. It is a natural phenanoman and the people take it in stride. They build their houses accordingly, some on pilings but some just held together to have shelter, not to have beauty. We passed three prisons on the way out of town. Not nice looking places. One of the prisons must have been one hundred years old, covered with mold, yet still being used today. Living this close to each other with the heat and storms and floods, makes daily life difficult.
We are on our way to a demonstration of the good old days on Fiji. A recreated village, a tourist trap with attached stores and live performers is our treat for today. But first I need to tell you one of the fables of Fiji. Once upon a time, a long time ago, a chief sent out his hunters to catch any animal and bring it to him for dinner. It did not take long and a creature was caught in the forest that turned out to be a deity. It was now up to the chief to do as he pleased with this creature, this god. This god asked the chief to just let him go and the talks lasted a bit but in the end a deal was struck. The clan would have total power over fire in exchange for the god's freedom. Thus it came about that this clan, even today, still has power over fire. Fire will not harm this clan. To prove the point, descendants of those warriors walked on hot stones to show the deal with their god is still in existence. Hence we lowly tourists watched the warriors of the clan walk over hot stones that had been heating in the midst of an open fire for 5 hours and prepared for the performance. With their old regalia, grass skirt, leaf armbands, shell necklaces and wielding spears, about eight men walked and stood on the hot rocks to the applause of the bus loads of tourists. All this was followed by women singing and dancing. Two women even sang a song while juggling oranges. A small skit with two men ogling them from the woods was included. When the women complained to their chief that their privacy had been invaded, a fast, vicious fight broke out and the two oglers were quickly killed and then hauled away to be eaten. It was a recreation of how life was years ago, before western religion changed all this feasting on each other. So I am not sure if the good old days were really that good. I know for sure they had no air conditioning then and that is what I wished for at the end of our outing. It sure was hot and humid.
As if their gods heard me, it started to rain as soon as we were in the rickety old bus, but no, no A/C on the bus. Just a general cooling down from the downpour and added moisture to make it more,humid. After a week of being greeted with song, dance and Kava, most of the performances started looking alike, I wonder if being this friendly and then being served for lunch really was the way it was in the past. No way to really know, people like to remember the good times of the past. The uncomfortable parts will be forgotten. So I think I will remember the fire walkers after some time but will forget the heat and rickety bus in years to come. It was a good outing, even though it was touristy.