Monday, 19 September 2011


Its a little late but here is a bit about Fiji. It was lovely, amazing beaches, nice resorts and very friendly people. The Fijian culture is very similar to the Balinese in that the whole extended family lives together and when poeple get married the woman leaves and moves to the man's village. Fiji also has a population of about 40% Indians who were brought over to work on the sugar plantations in 1875 as pretty much slaves because the British (who ruled Fiji at the time) didn't want to upset traditional Fijian life. However, the British began protesting about this and by 1910 it was banned and the Indians were given an option to stay or be sent home. Most have stayed as in Fiji there is no cast system and Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs get along well. However they do face prejudices and racism from the Fijians and are not allowed to own land, just lease it for 99 years and some are finding themselves kicked off it now. There are also many Indian boys in orphanages in Fiji, but no Fijian boys. This is because if a child is born out of wedlock, or the parents are poor or die it doesn't really matter, the whole family lives together anyway and there isn't even a word for cousin in the Fijian language, they are all brothers and sisters. The Indians on the other hand will make the child beg, or send it away or abuse it so they end up in the Methodist orphanages.

Traditional Fijian beliefs included the calling of the turtles (done by women) and the calling of the sharks (by men) to bring good luck but mostly it was  cannibalistic cultures. One chief is said to have eaten 812 people in his lifetime! When the British arrived they brought Christianity with them and Methodist is the most common, with Anglicans, Catholics and now some LDS churches.

The government in Fiji has been rotating between domocratic and military coups since it gained independence from the British Empire. The last coup was in 2007 and there is an interim government controlled by the army. They say they are working towards elections in 2014 and they have introduced free schooling, free school buses and major road improvements to get people to school. Its seems there is very little in the way of 3rd world, extream poverty, but we were only shown the tourist bits, and traditional villages which host tourists so I don't really know.

I did the Feejee Experience bus while I was out there, similar to Stray. We stayed at really nice beach resorts but we visited a couple of villages and had a traditional Kava ceremony at one of them. Kava is a root which they grind up and mix with water and it is a sort of sedative, it relaxes and calms you but its not a drug or narcotic. They say thats why the Fijians are so relaxed and friendly, they drink so much Kava. It tastes disgusting, like muddy water but its affects are good. People pay a fortune for Kava pills in America as it has no negative effects on the body but you get an amazing nights sleep. The ceremony involves the chief of the visiting tribe being welcomed with the Kava. There is a lot of clapping and it is very formal but when it is done you are considered a member of the village and part of the family. We also visited a school where they had traditional dances and songs, and they got us to get up and dance with them. We were asked by our driver to buy some stationary to donate before going as many people can't afford/ don't have a way of getting to a stationary shop.Some of the men in the village took us on a trip down the river on bamboo rafts then we played games with them, that was very fun.

One day I took the public bus to the grocery store and as I was waiting to go back I got chatting to a local woman. Its typical of the Fijians to be outgoing and friendly. She asked me about the London riots. I asked her what she did and she said she was married, and that many married women don't work, unless their husbands ask them to. It was a great holiday, not as cultural or off the beaten track as my other trips but I had plenty of time to relax by the pool, or go snorkeling, or go to the beach and met some great people.

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