It was always going to be hard to match the beauty and enjoyment of staying on Kuata Island but I couldn’t stay there forever. It was time to explore the mainland. The bus from Nadi to Sigatoka (pronounced Singatoka) was less than $6 and took an hour. I was the only non-Fijian on the full bus. An older bearded gentleman sat next to me. After a while we had a little chat. Turns out he went to Canterbury University and Massey back in the 1970s. His English was perfect. He was a teacher and had set up Trades schools here in Fiji that were still in operation. Nice, softly spoken man who was retired but being recruited by random churches and islands to oversee building projects. He’d almost finished a 9 month stint on one of the islands but was heading to Suva to watch his old high school rugby team play in the under 18s Fiji final. Next on his agenda was raising a church building so it was higher than the chief’s house in a village somewhere! It was dark outside so not much to look at, I was glad to have the interesting company.
Once I got off the bus at Sigatoka, my air bnb host was there to collect me. He drove me to the house which was actually in a village nearby called Olosara. He and his wife were both retired teachers… bit of a theme for the evening! They lived with their severely handicapped son who could not talk or feed himself. He was 30 and their other child, a daughter, was 32 and had 8 months ago moved to live in New Zealand. She was a doctor in the Emergency Dept at Middlemore hospital, Auckland. The couple were lovely as were their dogs and puppies!
The next day I woke early to pouring rain. I thought the day might end up being a stay at home and read or blog day.. but by 9am the rain had cleared and the sun was shining. It was a bit too windy to go to the Sigatoka Sand Dunes, famous for the archeaological things you can find there… so I took the local bus into Sigatoka – just a 70cent bus ride- and really enjoyed wandering around the fruit and vegetable market. A few days later at the Fiji Museum in Suva I read all about what I’d missed at the Sand Dunes!
The Sigatoka market had so many unique things I’d never seen before and some very cheap vegetables. They were all presented in groups on plates or leaves with the price on a card nearby. I’ve no idea if they were weighed groups or just an assortment that looked good but either way the price was at least half what it would cost at home.
I had lunch at an Indian vegetarian restaurant I’d spotted from the bus on the way in. It was yummy and cost less than $7 NZ for 3 curries, roti bread and 3 vegetable ball things. There wasn’t a lot to see in Sigatoka apart from the market and the river, but I did have a look at the flash looking Hare Krishna temple on the slope above the town.
The weather packed in later in the afternoon so my plans of a swim and a sunset walk were dropped and I got stuck into my crime novel instead. My host had prepared some tasty indian food for my dinner which I ate along with salad I made from the veges I bought at the market.
The next morning I walked about 15 minutes along the road to the beach and had a swim. Although it was about 1.5 hours after high tide, it was very shallow water for a long distance. I enjoyed the swim then lay down on the beach and read my book and enjoyed the views. I was the only one there until a group of 20 kids and adults rocked up in their colourful Sunday best outfits. Half the group entered the water fully clothed, including the minister with his white robes. They were there to baptise a child of about 9 and a woman. I couldn’t really hear or see what was going on but the boy emerged with a candle – not lit of course as the strong wind would have snuffed that out in seconds. They were also both presented with certificates and there were lots of photos taken.
I climbed the small hill behind the house to see the sunset but it was a bit cloudy to really be noticed. Nice views of the sugar cane fields, houses and Olosara village though (see first picture in this post). Next day I was given a great Indian breakfast – roti, cauliflower and potato curry, some kind of semolina steamed buns with a nutty sauce that resembled tahini and then was sent on my way… A bus around the coral coast to Suva. After 5 days of only cold water showers, I was looking forward to a hot shower and to check out Fijian city life in the capital.