We are off to House sit on an Island in Fiji
House sitting on Savusavu Island in Fiji
Now we are real travelers on an amazing single parent travel adventure. In fact, we are slowly becoming luxury travel experts as we have learned so much so far on this family travel. We are off to House sit on an Island called Savusavu in Fiji. We have been staying out of the town near Pacific Harbour. It is raining all night, and we have to get to Suva – the capital of Fiji.
The gardener and host help us with all our bags to the front road shelter. It is still raining and 7:30 a.m. and the traffic is busy. In Fiji, you just stand by the roadside and secure a ride from whoever passes first and stops.
In our case, it is a pretty empty bus. I wish I had not been so busy with the luggage to take a photo, as it is all passed up through the back window, and it kind of cracks me up.
The 1 & ½ hour fare is $7 FJ – less than $4 AU for both of us combined – that includes a $2 for the luggage that occupies the back seat.
We sit at the front, and as the bus fills to overflowing, we trust no one is rifling through our packs with our computers and phones, but there is no way to have them near where we are sitting. Already one of our boxes is balanced on the dashboard by the permanently open door, and I fear it will slide out if we combined a corner and a bump at the same time.
Alas, we collect “The Inspector” along the way. He is very important and respected and glares at us over his taped together glasses, that match his taped together clipboard.
So out of respect, the driver goes really, really, really slowly. This goes on for about ½ hour or more.
Finally, we drop him off, and the driver makes up for lost time. The minute the driver is over the hill, we blow some serious black smoke, as he lead-foots it down into the valley.
We are dropped at the bus station and the driver helps us get a taxi. We don’t have many options here, as with the extra box and bag of things to give the poor, we really are loaded up way beyond what I can handle. Alas, we are ripped off blindly for the fare, but I have little choice other than carrying it to who knows where.
We have no idea what to do with our stuff, so we drop it at the police point at one of the wharf entries, and head off to buy our ferry tickets. I have to remember the Fijian wharf name or never see my stuff again – there is no time for pens and paper as he shoots off and I try to familiarize myself with where we are – yikes!
The price of the ferry tickets has rapidly increased since we enquired from Australia.
When I rang from the resort last week, we were told to ‘talk cash’ and get a return ticket deal. However when we went to buy the ticket he refused and no discount on a return, so we just bought a one way. I had already decided on a cabin as it was a 14-hour crossing to the island, and there was no way I could sit up and watch bags and a child all night.
So we find our wharf, and our police point, and then our ship and lug our stuff on board.
We are the only “Europeans” in the cabin area. My son is amused as we are requested to remove our shoes on board.
We then discover that we completely lack bedding and towels and the bathroom is a toilet, and the shower is at the end of the hall.
An Indian man already knows the ropes and goes first and toddles down the hall with his great roll of fat hanging over his towel. He keeps opening and re-wrapping his towel and I try not to look – yuck.
We sort out some bedding and manage a throw each, and 2 pillows with no covers that have seen better days.
The funny thing is this “cruise ship” is an old Canadian ferry “Prince Rupert”, now renamed “The Lomoviti Princess”.
We are so fortunate as we have to air-condition in our cabin. The rest of the boat has NO airflow. Everyone dashes for a spot on the floor. I love how easily they adapt and relax and all have a communal spirit about them.
You would think it is a post-natural disaster site, as native Fijians make themselves at home anywhere on the floor. Bodies are soon found sleeping everywhere.
Soon it is impossible to even get to the stairs.
We had figured we would eat dinner on board, but it was strange local food. The Fijian lady was fantastic and made us a stir-fry and my son a Milo. Fijians seem so friendly and helpful and just want to talk to you.
After about a three-hour wait, we finally leave the dock, and as the boat starts to rock, we both feel too ill to do anything other than sleep. We step over the bodies to get back to the cabin to try to get some rest.
Alas, my 7-year-old is violently seasick. He is also bitten by bugs and is covered in mosquito bites. We huddle together in my bed – quite cold, and he sleeps. The loudspeaker blasts at 3:00 a.m., and we think we have arrived and madly dress and pack. But no – it is the island of “Koro”.
I try to get him to take a shower and he throws up all over his clothes. ‘This has to get better’ I think to myself. But the lack of air forces us to finally work our way over the sleeping bodies to the guys out in the staff deck. I thought they were sitting around buckets as they were ill, but no the muddy water in the buckets is kava. It seriously looked like someone could mop the floors with it, but they drink it with joy.
So we head back over the sleeping passengers for some fresh air as the sun rises, and our new island home for the next weeks is in sight.
It is 7:00 a.m. and we have to exit the cabin area and wait in the non-air-circulated docking area, and by then I can hardly breathe and feel like I am going to puke.
I have been wearing a backpack (with 6 bottles of drink that feels like it has bricks in it) for the best part of an hour, standing on a rocking boat. The staff members were great, and end up sitting my son in their air-conditioned pursers’ office, while the poor locals are not faring too well with the wait.
We go downstairs to the car dock and collect our bags and boxes and I have to pay a duty? We arrive at Savusavu and are collected by the cheeriest man I have ever met that my son calls “Mr. Happy”.
We are house sitting and he is our host. He drops us to our hotel to have breakfast and clean up. Now I feel really ill and my son is as good as gold. The camera has become foggy with the condensation from the tropical weather.
I force some breakfast down and we both have a swim.
It is a lovely place with a million dollar view and feels like paradise. I can see these people really care about their home and garden, and I feel blessed to have the next few weeks of living here.
“Mr. Happy” shows us the ropes of the home – looking after a home in the tropics has a whole new set of rules to city life. My son asks where the pool is, and why we only have 3 TV stations. “Mr. Happy” laughs. I am embarrassed. He picks us some bananas out of the garden.
He leaves the next day, and we move in. I sit out the back eating Cassava chips and watch the sunset, with a drink in my hand.
The stresses of packing, selling and moving house all roll away. I think I am really going to like island living. “This is the life”, says my seven-year-old, and I have to agree!
Questions and Comments
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