The Fiji islands, and Tavewa Island in particular, is paradise for kids who like to build and invent stuff. With trees to climb, wood and leaves to build forts and rafts, and fruit to eat and smell, it’s all you can ask for to be creative. And for almost 3 weeks, Ben, Kaia and I did exactly that. With 3 projects on the go, we had lots to work on and have fun!
First, we built the Rocky Ray raft. On our very first day on Tavewa, Ben and I were swimming when we found a log. We brought it into the water and started to play on it and try to stand on it. That gave us the idea to build a raft. The next day, we started by putting some logs side by side, and some thinner branches across them. We found some of Ben’s cousin Sammy’s half-surfboards lying around, and he said we could use them. Henry helped us find some vines that can be used as rope, and tied it all together.
When we were finished building it, we poled it around for a little test ride. It floated, but water came up past the surfboads, and it sank lower on one side.
Henry said it needed more floatation underneath. So the next day, we went to the windward side of the island to get some bamboo. We remodeled it a bit and added more vines to hold it together. This time, it floated quite well. We took it round for a little ride few times, but it didn’t get used very often in the end.
Our next project was the Tropical Turtle Treetop Resort of Tavewa. In a great climbing tree by the beach in front of their house, we found a few places we thought would make good resort rooms. We gave them some privacy with palm leaves, and put in some sticks and logs (pretty hard to get up into a tree!) to make arm and back rests. We kept adding little bits and pieces to improve it over the 3 weeks, but the final product featured the most luxurious Angelfish room, the second best Barracuda room, the third best Coconut room, the Damselfish deck, the Bristleworm bridge and even the Triggerfish toilet! We were planning on offering Rocky Ray raft tours to our guests as well, but one night, the waves must have been pretty big, because in the morning, the logs were washed up in different places down the beach, and all that was left was the anchor on the bottom!
Some usual pastimes were playing card games like 99, Quiddler or Dung Deck (a game about animal dung), playing Lego, and we’d have some fun with a giant land crab when we found one.
But by far and away, our best, most creative project was the Stingray Smell Buffet. It all started when we were trying to explode a coconut by roasting it on a fire. It didn’t work, but when we took it out of the fire and smashed it against the ground, it actually smelled really good! That gave us the idea to make a restaurant where instead of eating, you smell. The 4 parents were invited to the opening night. We had 3 dishes that we passed around one by one. Kaia served her “local leaf smalad” (salad+smell=smalad) as an appetizer, Ben served the roasted coconut as the main course and I served my lime fruit and leaf dish as a dessert. They were served in coconut shells or in a clam. After they had smelled them all, we asked for feedback. We took their advice and were back at it again the next day. Some new ingredients were added and some less important ones were taken out. Kaia roasted another coconut, this time a bit less “on the burnt side” as they had recommended to us. We got even better reviews the second time.
On the third day of the buffet, we switched the format. Instead of serving them what we already made, we prepared a “Make your own Smalad Buffet”. We harvested all the kinds of nice smelling fruit, leaves, roots, nuts and flowers we could find, put them in coconut shells and made labels for them. This time, we gave the parents each a coconut shell and they could put in whatever they wanted to make their custom smalad. There was lime, grapefruit, mango, curry leaf, camphor root, passion fruit and much more.
That time went really well!
2 days later, on our last full day on Tavewa, we had our closing meal. This time, we made a menu with all the ingredients, then walked around taking their orders. We found out how many servings we needed of each ingredient and went to harvest them. We made the bowls a bit fancy too!
From building rafts to making resorts to preparing smalads, it’s so much fun to make and do stuff on Tavewa. And who knows, maybe our idea will end up in the Solomon Islands some day!