Our arrival at this dock was met with the friendliest and most demonstrative greeting yet. Bula or hello was on the tongues of everyone we met or passed by. With a quickie 6 word lesson in the Fiji language on the previous day, we were ready to respond appropriately. Fortunately, knowledge of the local language was not at all necessary. Everyone we came in contact with spoke excellent English. Climbing into our car, it was immediately apparent that driving is on the left hand side of the street. Mercifully, we had arrived on a Sunday. The country, more or less, shuts down on Sunday. Most businesses are closed. This meant the streets were relatively deserted, perfect for the first shot at left hand driving and good practice for Australia.
Becoming a bit confused driving through the city of Suva, a local guide seemed to notice our
Realizing quickly, that our map was fairly worthless, we had little confirmation that we were on the correct route for quite some time. An hour later, we reached our destination.
Disappointingly, white caps were on the water. There would be no snorkeling today. After reviewing our options, we moved on to a nearby Art Center. Primarily, stores and restaurants, the Center provided a lunch spot and then we headed back toward Suva.
Stopping for gas before returning the car, we requested a fill up. After the tank was full, Alan handed over a credit card. They didn’t accept them. We offered Australian or US dollars, they didn’t accept them either. (We had been told that almost all business accepted one or the other.) With only $5 Fiji and a $20 gas bill, we had a problem. After receiving directions to an ATM, we promised to return soon. Unfortunately, we didn’t have our ATM card with us. Idea, buy a snack with a US $20 and get Fiji change. Alan selected a chocolate covered raspberry ice cream, which would have been nice even if we didn’t need change. They didn’t accept our money either, but offered to give us the ice cream since they couldn’t change our money. We declined the offer. Finally, we were able to make the appropriate transaction and return to pay our gas tab. I doubt this scenario would happen anywhere else in the world.
As the cruise ship prepared to depart the dock, passengers swarmed to the 3rd deck Promenade to experience a good bye show presented by the Suva Police Band and some other local entertainers. Quite the farewell.
|Desperate poverty was evident all over the island.|