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Lavena coastal walk

November 25, 2016

If you try to travel individually in Fiji – it becomes an adventure. Maybe I’m getting old or maybe it’s Fiji but I find it much harder than elsewhere to just do your thing. 

Lava rocks off the coast of Lavena.

First, I’m pretty much the only tourist almost everywhere I go, unless it’s a resort offering organized group activities, like Dolphin Bay Divers Retreat where I spent two weeks learning how to dive. Once you leave the resort world, the pre-booked transfers, drivers and meals disappear and you are left with erratic to non-existent public transport and hardly any place off the beaten path to buy prepared food. 

Add to that that Taveuni, the third largest island of Fiji, was hit by a cyclone earlier this year. Especially on the east coast and around the southern tip of the island, the damage is still very much visible and people partly live in tents, while rebuilding is ongoing. Some of the little tourist infrastructure was also damaged and low key places with limited resources seem to be the ones struggling most, having to limit services or close down completely. 

I’m not even fanatic about organizing everything myself, but it’s more fun, cheaper and you get to meet locals. Therefore against everyone’s advice, I took the local bus from Matei to Lavena village yesterday morning, knowing that the last one to come back would be at 2pm and that there are zero facilities and coffee shops on the way. 

I arrived at the end of the gravel road in Lavena at 11am (1 hour ride). The only other passanger, a young guy with a chainsaw in his backpack, showed me the way to the chief’s house to pay the entry fee, since the Lavena Lodge was closed due to rebuilding. Needless to say, I was the only visitor. I was advised to take a guide if I wanted to do the entire walk and back until 2pm, since it was a tight schdeule. 

Enter Carl, the eldest son of the Lavena chief, 35 like me. The people are the best part of Fiji, really. We had a blast walking “im Stechschritt” for an hour, conversing about life in general. I hardly had time to take pictures. The highlight of the walk is a waterfall at the end that you reach by climbing over some rocks and swimming through two natural pools. I was glad when we reached it. 

Thank God Carl relaxed once we were there. We both went in, it was great fun, tricks were shown, time flew. There was a moment, sitting on a rock behind the fall, when I thought: Ok, we need to go back now. It was 12:45 and all good. We ate bananas, fed the fish, stopped to smell the orchids. 

Getting closer to the village, more and more kids met us on the path. It should have been suspicious. They were coming from school. With the bus. 

When we arrived again in Lavena at 13:50, the bus was gone. There were no passengers, so it left early. Hmm. These are the travel moments that I love, when the unexpected enters! You sit there in 30 degrees heat, all sweaty, with a wet bikini underneath dirty clothes, hungry, thirsty, desperate. What to do? After a short discussion with neighbors and village kids, Carl found out that there was a taxi driver in town! His daughter and son in law were visiting from Melbourne so he and his wife took them on a family outing to Lavena. Fantastic coincidence! They drove me back squeezed in the back seat. We discussed differences between Australia and Fiji (Australia cold, Fiji warm) and I observed the family’s shopping techniques, stopping for some taro leaves at one house, placing a lobster order at another. 

It was a great little day trip and I highly recommend it to people visiting Taveuni. The community needs income and this is a good way of directly spending money locally. I just don’t know what to recommend logistically other than go and see what happens. Cheers, now I’m off to Qamea island, testing the waters for surfing!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    November 26, 2016 21:27

    Hali Katikám, érdekeseket írsz, azért vigyázz magadra! Puszi-puszi

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