We went to visit Sefo’s relative in the town of Lotouka. We were quoted $50FJD for the trip to Lotouka from our hotel – so we thought we would save some money and take the bus. It cost us $2FJD to go to Nadi and then we had to get another bus from there. The trip to Nadi was really interesting, we thought it would take 10 minutes (a little more than the taxi, which cost $8FJD the previous day!) - how wrong we were! Half an hour later we arrived in Nadi, after taking a detour which took us past some local houses – it was like being in the 3 little pigs, as some were made of wood, some were made of concrete, some were made of corrugated iron- although they all had lovely gardens! I was the only white person on the bus so it really felt like we were having a true local experience. It was really interesting to see some of the local families and where they live – a very different Fiji to Denarau!
We arrived at the bus stop and found the bus to Lotouka. It cost $2.85FJD each – what a bargain! 2 hours after we left our hotel we arrived- we took many detours down many dirt roads but got to see much more of the countryside than we had planned! We went past schools and homes and work places stopping frequently (it’s amazing that when you ring the bell the bus stops, and some people would ring it 10metres past where it last stopped so it was forever stop/start...not so good for motion sickness!! I think we decided we would pay $60FJD to get a taxi back!!!
We finally arrived in Lotouka and we met Sefo’s relative, S, out the front of the post office. S took us to the ‘club’ which is apparently where lots of Aussies and New Zealanders hang out. He used to work next door and is a member, although doesn’t go there very often since he retired a few years ago. There was only a few other people there but we sat and had a drink and a chat. S has a mother from Wallis and he grew up there and speaks the local language– his father was English. S married a Fijian woman and has lived in Fiji for a long time.
After our drink we went for a walk through the town – it’s a reasonable sized town with lots of shops and even more cars. What was surprising was how dirty and smoggy it was. It was much worse than Nadi, which is apparently a bigger city! Sefo and I both felt like we had smoked a pack of ciggies each after walking around for about half an hour and we were dying (!!) for some fresh air! We went to find something to eat, but it was about 4pm, and most places close between 4 and 6.30!! S dragged us from street to street insistent that he find somewhere where we could have something to eat – in the end we found somewhere open in what resembled a food court! It was terrible but S being the lovely host that he was kept getting us more and more food and encouraging us to eat!!
Eventually we finished and we took a taxi ride to his place. He negotiated for the taxi to come back at 6pm and collect us – for $28FJD (‘don’t pay him $30’ he said- we would have paid more if it meant not getting the bus back!!) S has a lovely home which is elevated over the town, and therefore has some clean air!! His garden is beautiful with many different fruit tree – mandarin, banana, coconut, papaya and more! We had a nice rest and more of a chat before the taxi came to pick us up.
When we got into the car, the taxi driver mumbled something about his mobile phone – I thought he said would we mind if he talked on it- we said go ahead! He actually asked us if we would mind if we went and got his mobile phone from his house!! So there we were, him asking if we wanted anything while he went inside, and we sat - parked in a taxi- while he ran inside to get his phone!! It was a nice little detour, although a little too dark to make the most of taking the scenic route!! It took 30 minutes to get back to the hotel in Denarau and we were much more comfortable than we were in the bus!! I paid the taxi driver $28FJD as I felt I would be cheating S if I didn’t!!