It was just after 9am when I said my fond farewells to Sandy’s mum and the village of Buda Levu.
I jumped the bus north towards the town of Rakiraki, wanting to explore the island of Viti Levu a little more. In case you were wondering, ‘Levu’ means ‘Big’, so ‘Viti Levu’ means ‘Big Viti’. Well, actually, it means ‘Big Fiji’, as ‘Viti’ is the Fijian name for their own country: the version we know, ‘Fiji’, is actually a Tongan word. Strange but true!
This time of year the days start with a burst of blisteringly hot tropical sunshine, cooking the wet ground and creating a steamy atmosphere: yes you’ll sweat so you might as well get used to it. Around noon the clouds (typically) roll in, but then that’s what makes Viti Levu so marvellously green. The afternoon is given over to the rain gods and it’s remarkable that I made it this far without an umbrella.
The town of Rakiraki was small and unassuming. I stopped for lunch at the Wananavu Beach Resort at the most northerly point of the mainland. Then I went to look for the nearby tomb of Udre Udre (pronounced Undre Undre) – a notorious cannibal who, in his lifetime, ate 872 people. Seriously. This guy went through cadavers like they were potato chips. I mean, you’d think if you were going to dine on the bones of the dead, it would be a kinda once-a-year sorta deal. Not for Udre Udre. To munch your way through 872 (literally) mansized feasts for one, you’d have to chow down on a fellow homo sapien once a month, every month for over 72 years. That’s a lotta fish and people pie.
I then headed along the magnificent north coast road to the city of Lautoka, a place I found neither pretty nor interesting. I was sorely tempted to press on to Nadi, but I thought I’d give Lautoka the benefit of the doubt. Silly me. I checked into the Lautoka Guesthouse and headed downstairs to the ‘pizza bar’. Now it’s been a couple of months since I last ate pizza, so I thought what the hell, lets go for it, and the Chicken Tikka pizza on offer did at least sound groovy.
Unfortunately, the pizza I got was the Bolognese one. Which would have been acceptable had the mincemeat not smelt of rotten mincemeat. I managed a couple of bites, but for the sake of my health (and sanity) I left it at that. In the three years I’ve been doing the Odyssey, in over 190 countries and territories, I haven’t had to see a doctor for anything other than preventative medicine, and I don’t intend to blemish my good attendance record any time soon.
I wandered the empty streets and after finding nothing going on, save some dogs making more dogs, I returned to my empty dorm. Wishing I had stayed in the village, I was then accompanied by two rather pleasant Americans from Arizona. A brother and sister, I was so relieved to have company I demanded they accompany me for beer. We went to a bar a little down the way, which was (predictably) emptier than Paris Hilton’s noggin. But we had a good old natter about the state of union, Obama’s chances in the upcoming elections and whether the constitution needs a reboot.