Our fantastic Fiji holiday was coming to an end, so we packed up the tent — it had been so nice to sleep in the same place for over two weeks! Henry hosted a final kava night and we had a lovely relaxed evening with him and his cousin Conrad. With help from Rhonda and Henry, we got booked on the “Y2”, a smaller (and cheaper) boat that makes the run from the Yasawas to the “mainland” once or twice a week. It is used mainly by locals, and those who traveled with us had many bags full of land crabs to be sold at the market in Lautoka.
Soon after sunrise, Henry, Rhonda and Ben took us across the channel in their boat, where we transfered all our bags (including a couple from the beach clean-up) onto the Y2. It left at about 7:30am.
The Y2 was certainly smaller, slower and louder than the Ocean Dreamer (the boat we arrived on), and when the sun hit, was it ever hot! We were served tea and crackers in the morning, and a lunch of chicken, noodles, and veggies. Apart from eating, we mostly rested during the 6-hour voyage, or tried to keep our eyes on the horizon to avoid becoming seasick!
About an hour out of a Lautoka, the passengers on a small boat were waving at us in some sort of distress. When I noticed they were waving gas cans, I realized they were out of fuel! The crew of the Y2 threw them a line and towed them into port.
Once in port, it took some persistence to get a rental car. It seems that most places (except for the big-name companies at the airport) will not accept credit cards! Since our insurance is dependent on us paying for the rental with VISA, we really couldn’t budge on that one. So, after having no success at Singh’s, we contacted Classic Car Rental who agreed to take payment on the credit card. We had decided to rent a car in order to see some of the countryside of Viti Levu, Fiji’s main island (which is surprisingly big!)
We spent a couple of hours in Lautoka. First, we visited the market where we thought we’d buy a pineapple because the price looked so good to us. After paying, we realized that it was actually the price for a stack of 4 pineapples! The bananas and mangoes were cheap, too.
Jake had expressed the wish to spend some of his money from Gramma on a “bula shirt”, a floral-patterned shirt that is popular throughout the Pacific. Since every store had a different selection and Christmas deal, we ended up going into at least a dozen shops before Jake settled on which shirt he wanted to buy.
Then we drove out of town in search of budget accommodation (preferably near the beach, since we had become spoiled during our stay on Tavewa!) We found the Bamboo Hostel, and stayed in their dorm. They have a beach, restaurant, hammocks, wifi, and happy hour. What else could anyone need?
The next day, we drove down to Natadola Beach (like I said, we had become beach snobs). On the way, we passed dozens of little mango stands, many sugarcane plantations, and were intrigued by the small gauge railway that ran along the side of the road. Apparently it was used during colonial times to transport the sugarcane to processing facilities. Then it was back to Nadi to drop off the car at the airport and board our plane to Vanuatu.
What a fabulous introduction to island life and Melanesian culture we had in Fiji! Vinaka, vinaka to our wonderful hosts!