January 3, 2011 - Bay Of Islands, New Zealand

Forget about Bangkok, perhaps Nadi is the sex capitol of the world. On my 1st 2 days alone in Fiji I was propositioned numerous times walking down the street & by the hostel Manager. It’s holiday sex on offer and it’s called “Hit & Run”, which needs no further explanation. I’m not sure whether to feel flattered or not as Fijian men think big women are sexy! Whatever, you’ll be pleased to hear I was not tempted. J

And thankfully Ross arrived and we made our way to our island paradise.

Vorovoro lies off the coast of Vanua Levi (the 2nd largest Fijian island in the quiet north) and is a beautiful, unspoilt island of deserted beaches, mangroves & volcanic rock and has a large coral reef just off its north shore. There were 8 tribe members on the island over the Christmas & New Year period and we had a unique and special time. The Tribe village is not a resort – it’s the closest you can get to experiencing typical Fijian island life with all it’s cultures and traditions, which we had to respect.

Team Fiji (a group of guys who take care of the maintenance of the Tribe village)and the family, who are the only permanent residents on Vorovoro, made us feel very welcome and encouraged us to get involved with all aspects of Fijian life & culture. Also on the island were Hatchi (a very lucky dog) 3 kittens + mummy cat & more than a million bugs (mosquitos, cockroaches, ants, flies – to name but a few)! Alex & Ross were in strong competition to see who get the most bites – and when neither of them were around the rest of us got eaten alive too! :-@

The Tribe village is a model project of sustainability. Ross and I stayed in a hut, adjacent to the beach, called “The Funhouse” and we showered at a waterfall on the beach or at the bucket showers (using collected rainwater). There are composting toilets, an ecotricity hut (powered by a wind turbine & solar panel), chickens, Samson the pig (who has grown too big to be eaten now!!) & a big variety of vegetables & fruit growing in the village.

During our stay, we build an open-sided hut, learned how to make coconut jewellery, went fishing (trawling & line), snorkelled on the reef, learned a Meke (dance) and performed it at a large gathering of all the villagers from Vorovoro & Mali islands. During our Meke (which, btw Liz was the same as we saw at Hampton Court) we were covered in talcum powder & sweets as this is the Fijian way of showing that they are having a good time! We took part in Sevu Sevu ceremonies (traditional gift giving) and Cava (grog) drinking sessions (sometimes accompanying the singers with guitar/drums (Ross) and tambourine (me J). We cooked a meal for our hosts, to say Vinaka (thank you) for their hospitality and we all had daily jobs to do (Ross had to keep the dining area surfaces clean & I fed the chickens and collected eggs). I also made a shell mosaic for the bucket shower (Maka Ne Leka – which means No Worries). And Tribe members donated sheets of roofing iron to a nearby village on Mali island to help a young married couple build their first home.

In between all of the above, Ross and I did manage to squeeze in lots of swimming, snorkelling, and hammock time for reading our books. There was no light pollution so sunrises & sunsets were stunning and the night skies were often clear and starry.

Vorovoro was the inspiration for my 5 month sabbatical and it went beyond all my expectations. Ross and I left feeling like we were leaving family behind. The Fijian islanders don’t have a lot in monetary terms but they are the happiest people I have ever come across. And despite the long hours they work, you still hear them laughing from morning ‘til night. At every opportunity the guys play guitar, ukuleles and drums to accompany the wonderfully, romantic singing (which moved me to tears at times) and encouraged us to join them. When you leave the island, the islanders gather and sing a farewell song to you. There is lots of hugging and this emotional event is called “burying the footsteps”.

Highlights of our stay on Vorovoro was learning and performing the Meke and, for me, the beautiful singing will remain in my memory for a long time to come.

Ross is on his way back home now, having had a great 2 weeks holiday, and I am in Auckland, NZ. First impressions were not good – a customs official at the airport confiscated my Marmite (which was in my day bag) calling it “gel”. He failed to find it funny when I told him that “my toast wouldn’t be as tasty anymore”!! Oh well, that’s life..and all part of the big travel adventure..hehe.






141-Enjoying the trip even tho we got no bites!
1-1-Fijian Islands from our plane
8-No Worries
11-Tribe Village


January 3, 2011
Hi Marj, Great to hear from you again. Glad you managed to run from the 'hit and run' don't like the sound of that. Your pics are again brilliant and its great you had Ross there for a couple of weeks, no doubt you wil be missing him but you are on the move again so you will be busy. The beach at Vorovoro looks beautiful and so relaxing. You are certainly learning a lot of skills whilst you are travelling. Good luck in Auckland, hope the marmite is the only bad thing you have to remeber it by.
Happy New Year to you, take care .
Heather xx
January 3, 2011
So when we all meet her ladyship expect a fijian dance from her and maybe a song or two.And we all know what we are getting for xmas don't we..........jewellry made from coconunts. Best we get down to the fairgrounds now to get the raw materials for her.
And can I apologise now for Ross who took all our xmas cards and small presents out so they could open them on the beach on xmas morning..and forget to open the side pocket on rucksack to give them to Marj. Doh!
January 3, 2011
I should have added he didn't just give them to Marj later on in the holdiay.....he brought them all the way back home......unopened!
So a few cards and pressised have done a 20000 mile round trip.
You can take a horse to water........Ha nice one Rosso....
One for the grandchildren.
January 3, 2011
Hey gorgeous, happy new year. Fiji sounds amazing. So what are your plans in NZ. You should look up my brother and my mates in NZ if you have the time. Safe travels honey x
January 4, 2011
Fantastico photos and blog, i am going to suggest you keep traveling rather than go back to work as this is over rated. Look forward to catching up with you when you hit south island new zealand, lots of hugs and kisses cheryl n:>;)
January 4, 2011
You look so happy and relaxed, great photo's. A dance to learn - fab - a new event for the social committee!! Happy New Year to you, shame the NZ official is not a Marmite lover - well they say you either love it or hate it......with love Mandy.xx
Kym Bell:
January 4, 2011
Hey there, (dont think the first comment got submitted so will try again!) sounds as though you had a great time in Fiji! dont judge kiwi's on the Auckland 'jaffa's' they are a breed of their own up there. Wait till you get to friendly Christchurch! Look forward to catching up.
January 5, 2011
Hey Happy New Year Marj, another brilliant instalment with photos to match, you are having some experience. Glad you weren't tempted with the Hit and Run lol. Sorry about your marmite, but being a 'hater' I understand why. Keep enjoying your experiences and keep safe.


Lynn xx
January 6, 2011
HAPPY NEW YEAR ! ! ! What a fab way to end 2010 and start 2011!!!! You wont forget that new year's eve any time soon!! Look fwd to hearing more details. How dare that nasty man take your marmite away? Does he not understand, we cannot live without it?! He must have taken it for personal use! Love the pics and tales of Vorovoro. Glad Ross was able to share some special memorable time with you. Can't believe he took the xmas stuff to such a beautiful place and they never saw daylight! - that's hillarious! Love and hugs my darling. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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