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Monday, September 24, 2012

A day on a Fiji farm

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We are awake at 5.30 am to catch the early bus to the foothills.

Our friends Marylyn and Dave (50/50 Australian & Fijian) own rural property.
Their caretaker Julian, and his sweet wife Lele are organising a Lovo. 

Now a lovo is on my ‘to do’ list, so I am very excited.
I have been to Fiji 4 times in the past with my son, and always wanted the experience – so today is the day!
These folk are related to a boy in my son’s class called Crevan, so they both get the day off school.
Now my son is also excited, as they have horses, and live by a river. 

We hope off the bus and go via a village.
We meet some ladies from the village on the dusty road.

They are heading out to fish in the river for the day.
More relatives & friends of Marilyn & Dave’s I believe? 
My son is standing by the river - it looks like glass!

At the rear is a traditional bure.

We walk on to bring some clothes for the village, where the ladies invite me back another day to learn to weave with the palm leaves. 

I love their kitchen! 

We then walk about 2 km through a coconut plantation to the farm.

They have many head of cattle, and grow some vegetables too, along with the coconuts that are grown and sold for copra.

When we arrive Georgy and Sulo are busy preparing the vegetable for the Lovo.
Georgy is peeling the Dalo or Taro.

Sulo is busy using a coconut milk mixture and making Palusami parcels.

Inside Lele is preparing Walu Fish for the lovo, and a potato curry she cooks in the lean-to kitchen.

Today is a big day.
Wood must be collected and chopped. 

Via Leaves – small are used for the Palusami parcels, and the large are used on the top of the lovo. 
Special stones, to heat (and do not explode) must be collected from the river. 

The vegetables are dug from the farm – and usually there is quite a walk to find them. 
The fish is freshly caught from the sea, and that is quite a ride up the river in a boat and time fishing last night for Julian. 
This will be served with fresh limes from the garden, and a topping of caramelised onion, peppers, and tomatoes, all home grown. 
There are also 2 chickens that have been prepared earlier. 

Coconut (Niu) trees are climbed for fresh milk to drink and eat. 
(you can just see him up the tree!)

They have been preparing this since dawn. 

The pit must is freshly dug. 
Palm fronds are cut down. 

Now the thing to remember is this is like camping out here. 

There is no electricity. 
That means no refrigeration. 
No cold drinks on a hot day. 
No warm showers after the rain. 
And no running water either. 
This means no flushing toilets (you use a long drop outside, normally wiping with only newspaper). 
While we wait for the Lovo to cook, the boys play happily outside. 
I have been noticing the change in my son, as he climbs and plays outside with Crevan. 

They swim in the river, but my son has a few screams as the little fish give him a nibble. 

So they decide it is time for a ride around the property on the horse. Note this is bareback with no bridle. They seem to be gone for ages. My son had been wanting to horse-ride since we arrived, so he is pretty wrapt about this. They are still riding when our Lovo feast lunch is served under the trees. 

Time to see if the Lovo is ready.

Here it is!

No a Lovo is amazing!
The chicken takes like the most divine roast.
The Palusami parcels are like a sweet spinach pie.
The Dalo is crispy, and you could mistake it for a crispy bread roll, but it is sliced and tastes a lot like potato.
The fish melts in your mouth with the mouth-watering topping.

Alas my camera battery dies about now. I have brought the charger, but it is useless as I forget about the no electricity! 

I eat til I want to burst, and then of course there is dessert! 

This has been cooked earlier, and allowed to cool. It is ripe plantain – a sister to the banana fruit but way bigger. It can be cooked green as a vegetable, or yellow as a fruit. 

Cooked in a syrup, it is sweet and lovely, and a refreshing end to our superb Fijian feast. 

It is already mid afternoon, and the boys beg “Uncle Julian” continually to take them down the river in his wooden boat. We pile in and take off down the water tributaries, to the main river. At the mouth of the tributary, we find about 20 ladies (yes it is some of the ladies we met at our first village on the way to the farm) with a net right across the river fishing. This is illegal, and Julian will need to report them, as they are fishing in the breeding waters. 

Julian wants to show us where the river meets the sea. We are now in the main river, and it is just magical and peaceful, and extremely beautiful. The memories may not be snapped by my camera, but they are forever in my mind. 

We head back, and alas we run out of fuel. We have come a long way! Fortunately Julian – who is about 60 at a guess, is tall and strong, and has a long tree branch to pole us back. The boys jump in and out of the boat as we find sand banks, and run along and hop back in. It feels more like a gondola ride!  It is serene and magical. 

It may not be a magical end to the day for Julian, but it has been for us! 

We return home at the end of the day and sit on our back porch and watch the passenger ferries and yachts come and go.

Getting to know the ‘real Fiji’ is really making our adventure so very special, and I am extremely grateful for their kindness to us.  What an amazing day.

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