What is a Lovo ?

A day on a Fiji farm for a 7-year-old Australian boy

We are awake at 5:30 a.m. on the island of Savusavu Fiji to catch the early bus to the foothills. Our friends ‘Marylyn’ and ‘Dave’ (50/50 Australian & Fijian) own rural property. Their caretaker ‘Julian’ and his sweet wife ‘Lele’ are organizing a ‘Lovo’.

Now a ‘Lovo’ (a BBQ under the ground) is on my ‘to do’ list, so I am very excited. I have been to Fiji 4 times in the past with my son, and always wanted the experience – so today is the day!

These folks are related to a boy in my son’s class called ‘Crevan’, so they both get the day off school. Now my son is also excited, as they have horses and live by a river.

We hope off the bus and go via a village. We meet some ladies from the village along the dusty road.
local Fijians
©Exploramum and Explorason – Marylyn, the Fijian ladies, and Explorason

They are heading out to fish in the river for the day. More relatives & friends of ‘Marylyn’ & ‘Dave’s’ I believe?

My son is standing by the river – it looks like glass!

Explorason
©Exploramum and Explorason – Explorason walking on the road

At the rear is a traditional bure.

Bure
©Exploramum and Explorason – Bure

We walk on to bring some clothes for the village, where the ladies invite me back another day to learn to weave with the palm leaves.

local Fijians
©Exploramum and Explorason – Local ladies teach us to weave

I love their kitchen!  It has traditional handwoven baskets and blackened pots on the fireplace – it is like I have stepped into a travel brochure.

kitchen
©Exploramum and Explorason – Fijian traditional kitchen

We then walk about 2 km through a coconut plantation to the farm. They have many heads of cattle, and grow some vegetables too, along with the coconuts that are grown and sold for copra.

palm trees
©Exploramum and Explorason – Explorason – it’s a long walk

When we arrive ‘Georgy’ and ‘Sulo’ – 2 of the farm hands are busy preparing the vegetable for the ‘Lovo’.
‘Georgy’ is peeling the ‘Dalo’ or ‘Taro’.

Lovo
©Exploramum and Explorason – preparing the Lovo

‘Sulo’ is busy using a coconut milk mixture and making ‘Palusami’ parcels.

Fiji food preparation
©Exploramum and Explorason – Preparing the Palusami parcels

Inside ‘Lele’ is preparing ‘Walu’ fish for the ‘Lovo’, and also preparing a potato curry she cooks in the lean-to kitchen.

Today is a big day. Wood must be collected and chopped for the fire, and the men set to work.

Firewood
©Exploramum and Explorason – collecting firewood
‘Via’ leaves (small leaves) are used for the ‘Palusami’ parcels, and the large leaves are used on the top of the ‘Lovo’.
Special stones, to heat (and that do not explode), must be collected from the river.
Lovo fire
©Exploramum and Explorason – Preparing the Lovo

 The vegetables are dug from the farm – and usually, there is quite a walk to find them. The fish is freshly caught from the sea, and that is quite a ride up the river in a boat and a good time fishing last night for ‘Julian’. This will be served with fresh limes from the garden, and a topping of caramelized onion, peppers, and tomatoes, all home-grown.

There are also 2 chickens that have been prepared earlier.

Lovo
©Exploramum and Explorason – Lovo preparation
‘Niu’ or Coconut trees are climbed for fresh milk to drink and eat (you can just see him up the tree!)
Ready for a swim
©Exploramum and Explorason – The boys are ready for a swim
The staff has been preparing this ‘Lovo’ feast since dawn.
The pit must be freshly dug. Palm fronds are cut down – there is a lot of work to do, as people scurry back and forth.
palm leaves
©Exploramum and Explorason – Preparing palm leaves
Now the thing to remember is that this is like camping out here. There is no electricity, which means no refrigerators and no cold drinks on a hot day.  There is no warm shower after the rain and no running water. This means no flushing toilets (you use a long drop outside, normally wiping with only newspaper).
While we wait for the ‘Lovo’ to cook, the boys play happily outside. I have been noticing the positive change in my son, as he climbs and plays outside with ‘Crevan’.
Fijian farm
©Exploramum and Explorason – The boys enjoy playing on the Fijian farm
They swim in the river, but my son has a few screams as the little fish give him a nibble.
swimming
©Exploramum and Explorason – Explorason is swimming in the river with his friend

Horse Riding

So they decide it is time for a ride around the property on the horse. Note: this is bareback riding with no bridle. One of the staff men rides at the front with Explorason at the rear and they seem to be gone for ages. My son had been wanting to horse-ride since we arrived, so he is pretty excited about this. They are still riding when our ‘Lovo’ feast lunch is almost ready to be served under the trees.

Time to see if the ‘Lovo’ is ready.

Lovo
©Exploramum and Explorason – The Lovo is ready

Here it is!  ‘Lovo’ unveiling time!

Lovo
©Exploramum and Explorason – are you ready for a Lovo food feast?

Now, a ‘Lovo’ is amazing!
The chicken tastes like the most divine roast.
The ‘Palusami’ parcels are like a sweet spinach pie.
The ‘Dalo’ is crispy, and you could mistake it for a crispy bread roll, but it is sliced and tastes a lot like a potato.
The fish melts in your mouth with the mouth-watering topping.

Lovo
©Exploramum and Explorason – Lovo unveiling

No Camera

Alas, my camera battery dies about now. I have brought the charger, but it is useless as I forget about the no electricity!

Dessert

I eat til I want to burst, and then, of course, there is dessert! This has been cooked earlier and allowed to cool. It is ripe ‘plantain’ – a sister to the banana fruit but way bigger. It can be cooked green as a vegetable, or yellow as a fruit.  Cooked in a syrup, it is sweet and lovely, and a refreshing end to our superb Fijian feast.

Boat Ride

It is already mid-afternoon, and the boys beg ‘Uncle Julian’ continually to take them down the river in his wooden boat. We pile in and take off down the water tributaries, to the main river. At the mouth of the tributary, we find about 20 ladies (yes it is some of the ladies we met at our first village on the way to the farm) with a net right across the river fishing. This is illegal, and Julian will need to report them, as they are fishing in the breeding waters.

Julian wants to show us where the river meets the sea. We are now in the main river, and it is just magical and peaceful, and extremely beautiful. The memories may not be snapped by my camera, but they are forever in my mind.

Adventure Time

We head back, and alas we run out of fuel! We have come a long way! Fortunately, Julian – who is about 60 at a guess, is tall and strong and has a long tree branch to pool us back.

The boys jump in and out of the boat as we find sandbanks, and run along and hop back in. It feels more like a gondola ride!

It is serene and magical. It may not be a magical end to the day for Julian, but it has been for us!

Back Home

We return home at the end of the day and sit on our back porch and watch the passenger ferries and yachts come and go.
Getting to know the ‘real Fiji’ is really making our adventure so very special, and I am extremely grateful for their kindness to us by ‘Marylyn’ and ‘Dave’.
What an amazing day!
House sitting
©Exploramum and Explorason – Our view from the side of our house sit
Now, my friends, that is how you spend a day on a Fiji farm!
Questions and Comments
  • What do you think a Lovo is?
  • Please share your thoughts with us.

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