Is there something in the whole world that was the best thing you ever did in your life, but you had to give it up? For Joe Walsh of The Eagles it was giving up alcohol. For others it’s giving up sugar. For me it’s giving up Fiji. Each time I visit I feel that wrench away from something I love deeply and passionately. The good thing is that I can return time and time again for my ‘top-up’ of Fiji.
As Connie Chew says in her beautiful magazine, Explore Fiji, Fiji is “the only country on earth where you are welcomed with a warm ‘BULA’ everywhere you go”.
It’s that warm greeting of “BULA’ as soon as you set down in Nadi Airport that stays with you every day until you leave and are wrenched away.
For many, Fiji represents an opportunity to experience a holiday on an exotic island or resort far from the madding city life, while making the most of the excellent climate and outdoors leisure pursuits. For others who live and work in Fiji, the country provides exciting opportunities.
1. Let’s talk about the people of Fiji
For those of you who have been to Fiji, can you imagine anywhere else on the planet where you will constantly and consistently be greeted with warmth and affection that is shown by happy Fijians? The multiracial people of Fiji are really excited to see you and share with you freely of their customs, culture and way of life. They are also deeply saddened to see you leave. Listening to the local group singing in your hotel or resort or to the sounds of iTaukei meke or Indo-Fijian culture will shoot ripples up your spine and neck. Such exquisite sounds from dedicated people faithfully creating the spirit of Fiji in every performance. And as you listen to the Fijian farewell song, “Isa Lei”, (see below) you feel the pull of the islands drawing you back into its bosom, calling you back to Fiji because visiting Fiji is the best thing you ever did in your life!
2. And what about the food! Oh my…
Your favorite dishes served to perfection in 5 star resorts prepared by some of the world’s best chefs or a visit to the local iTaukei, Indian, Chinese, Philippine, Korean restaurants. Perhaps you’ve been to a Fijian magiti where food has been prepared in an earth oven or lovo! Dalo, tapioca, breadfruit, yam, seafood, beef, chicken, pork, and vegetable all wrapped in banana leaves, placed on hot coals, and left for 2 or 3 hours to slowly cook to perfection. If you’re a curry lover like me, you head straight for a curry lodge on arrival for your favorite chicken, mutton, eggplant and other vegetable curries and a good size bowl of chili hot dhal with 2 or 3 rotis to wrap your curry in. And then there are the seasonal vegetables like duruka cooked in coconut milk – heaven!
Isa Lei – Fijian Farewell Song
Isa isa valagi lasa dina
Nomu lako au na rarawa kina
Cava beka ko a mai cakava
Nomu lako au na sega ni lasa.
Isa lai, na noqu rarawa
Ni ko sa na vodo e na mataka
Bau nanama, na nadatou lasa
Mai Suva nanuma tiko ga.
Vanua rogo na nomuni vanua
Kena ca ni levu tu na ua
Lomacqu voli me’u bau butuka
Tovolea ke balavu na bula.
Domoni dina na nomu yanuyanu
Kena kay wale na salsalu
Mocelolo, Bua, na Kukuwatu
Lagakali, Maba na rosi damu.
Isa, Isa you are my only treasure
Must you leave me, so lonely and forsaken?
As the roses will miss the sun at dawning,
Every moment my heart for you is yearning.
Isa Lei, the purple shadow falling,
Sad the morrow will dawn upon my sorrow;
O forget not, when you’re far away,
Precious moments beside dear Suva Bay.
Isa, Isa my heart was filled with pleasure,
From the moment I heard your tender greeting;
Mid the sunshine, we spent the hours together,
Now so swiftly those happy hours are fleeting.
O’er the ocean your island home is calling,
Happy country where roses bloom and splender;
O if I could but journey there beside you
Then forever my heart would sing in rapture.