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Excerpt from the Journal of Olds – Day 248-249 – Fiji – Suva & The Ferry Crossing

Another beans-on-toast-fest was in order for breakfast before wandering out to the main road to wait for the Suva bus which came along fairly quickly. An hour and a half later we were wandering out of Suva bus station with the intention of getting tickets from a hastily scrawled address for the evening ferry to Taveuni. A taxi driver offered to take us to the office at the ferry terminal and while we were initially reluctant we decided to hop in and go with him.

He swung us around to where he thought it was – closed. He then drove around for a bit asking a few people. Eventually after a little too-ing and fro-ing Fi hopped out at an office and secured passage for us on the Lomaiviti Princess. He then drove us round to the ferry where we were able to drop off our main luggage as it was already docked and then swung us back into town. While we’d pre-agreed a price we tipped him a little more for the effort he’d put in to helping us out.

We had a wander around Suva and grabbed some lunch before hitting the cinema for Prometheus in 3D for less than £3. I enjoyed it but it did have a few plot holes. Time was seemingly tight and as soon as the film finished we rushed to the ferry only to then wait until 2 hours after the official departure time before actually setting off. This was due to a phenomenon that I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned up to this point – Fiji time. Fiji time is different to what you or I may consider our understanding of time to be. On Fiji time things happen when they happen. Any attempt to go against Fiji time – to try and get things to happen more quickly – is the essence of futility. You have to accept Fiji time. Embrace Fiji time. Deal with Fiji time.

Once on board we bumped into Henry, the fella who effectively ran Bamboo Backpackers and the Maqai Beach Resort we were heading out to. We recognised him and had a quick chat before going on our way. Not long after we met Rafa from Bamboo who was actually looking for us and 2 other girls who we’d later get to know as Susan and Mariliis. We’d booked over the internet but apparently that was no different to booking from Bamboo and they’d sent Rafa out to meet and look after us during our journey – another typical example of Fijian hospitality. Oddly Rafa was somewhere between suspicious and terrified to find his boss Henry onboard and wondered if we’d come with him. We hadn’t but he remained worried that he was under some sort of observation. We watched the sunset from on deck and eventually departed for the 20 hour journey.

In terms of sleeping conditions you basically sleep on the ferry floor in one of the main areas for passengers – the cinema (badly bootlegged movies of varying renown) or the area next to the cinema which you may or may not wish to call the lounge. There was a cafeteria serving pretty poor food and no alcohol so it was a case of making do. As things go it was one of the less pleasant journeys of the trip (the bathrooms were off the chart in terms of filth) but it was just a case of knuckling down and getting on with it.

In the afternoon the next day the ferry eventually docked in Taveuni, the port at this side of the Fijian islands. We went with Rafa, Susan and Mariliis to the hostel Henry has in Taveuni to pay for our stay in advance. Here we found out that the ferry timetable differed from what we’d found on the web. We had the choice of departing in 3 days or 8 days. We’d wanted to stay for 5 but left with little alternative we chose a short 3 day break (within no time at all we’d extended to 8). It was here that we met Stella from Cyprus who was moving from Taveuni to Maqai along with another fella who was quite a character but only travelling to Maqai for a single night. We hopped back in the minivan and went to wait for a little boat to Maqai Beach. The staff at Taveuni had packed us a pasta lunch which we wolfed down while waiting before hopping on the tiny boat and bouncing along the waves for something like an hour. As we pulled around the reef and came in toward the beach we spotted Sophie – whom we’d met on our arrival in Fiji – amongst the welcoming party. After introductions we were shown to our 3-person bure and found we were sharing with no-one – result. From then it was simply a case of chilling out and getting properly introduced to Kava…