My head didn’t feel so hot when I woke up this morning. Sollo, one of the staff members, likes to have us play games in the evenings, which always leads to drinking, and drinking games. Last night he had us pick crabs out of a pail, the tiny kind with their houses on their backs. Then we numbered them, dropped them in the middle of a circle and tried to see which one would cross the line first. My guy got so distracted and wound up going in circles. The night before we did limbo and some other agility-testing games. It’s quite fun, but we all hurt a bit come morning.
While we were all having fun playing around, the scuba instructor was out for a night dive with one of the guests. Upon his return he looked distracted so I felt compelled to ask him if he was all right. He said, “No. I just saw the biggest shark I’ve ever seen in my life.” Well, didn’t I just smack him on the shoulder and give him shit for banging those rocks together when we were diving earlier that day. Sharks are attracted to noises like that because it sounds like another shark chomping down on bones, he tells me. He tells me he saw the 2.5m shark right in that very spot where he hit those rocks together – and it wasn’t a reef shark. I know sharks are more active at night, but let me tell you how scared I am to go in the water this afternoon. I don’t what I’ll do if I come face to face with a shark. And what if he sneaks up on me from behind?
This morning we took a boat over to Soso, a village of about 400 people on an island about 30 minutes away over water. We paid $30 to the resort and a $3 landing fee to the village. It was odd walking down their paths and walking into their schoolhouses, as we were most certainly disrupting their day. The teachers seemed used to it and were polite, speaking English and telling us how glad they were that we visit. Then they asked up to please donate to the school, gesturing to a large schoolhouse shaped donation box. All the varnished wood pews from the church were out on the grass as men worked away fixing the inside of the church. All doors on the thin-walled, tin-roofed houses are left wide open. Out houses were spaced between every home and chickens and roosters roamed freely. I saw a cat sleeping under a bush by the paved path, and a happy dog tried to jump up and force me to pet him longer than I had time. At one point we went to see the lady villagers who were set up on palm mats or blankets with all ‘their’ handi-crafts displayed in front of them for sale. One woman sat weaving a fan, others tried to look busy tying something on a bracelet, but this was just for show. When I asked one woman if she carved the totem in front of her, she said no. She got it from the mainland. And then I looked closer at the plastic beads and tell-tale mass production and even one lady who had earrings still in the card from the shop. All trinkets from Fiji, but that was about all it had going for it. As we walked away, the ladies quickly gathered everything, put it back in their tins and went about their business. But what did I really expect would happen when we go traipsing through their home like they’re on some kind of display for our foreign viewing pleasure? And honestly, I didn’t really expect much, but the authenticity I felt from just seeing the open doors and seeing the yellowing English posters in the school, the smiling happy children and the rugby goal made of tree branches showed me more about what it was like to live in that village than anything.
I’m meant to leave here on Friday, but I have a feeling I’ll be extending my stay until Monday. I did want to go explore the main island of Fiji before I flew out on Tuesday. You know, see the real Fiji and the culture of this place, but how can one abandon paradise when they’ve finally found it? Why ever would I want to go back to the real world before I have to?