The last two days, I’ve settled into my Airbnb apartment, started to explore Suva, and finalized my plan of attack for my research. Fiji is certainly unlike any country I’ve ever been to, and each new experience has taught me more about this incredible island. Here are a few of my first impressions:
Fiji is friendly.
After negotiating a price for a cab into town yesterday, my driver started asking me questions (see #3). As soon as he learned this was my first time in Fiji, he made an abrupt U-turn and declared “I will show you Suva. No extra, just come with me”. Over the next forty minutes, he transformed into my own personal tour guide, showing me the stately parliament buildings, the best place to get fish, where the rugby team plays, and the university campus. He also gave me his thoughts on the Prime Minister (he likes him) and invited me over to dinner with his family. What should have been a quick ten minute drop off turned into a grand welcome to Suva, and he sheepishly wouldn’t accept any additional money over the agreed-upon fare of a measly 8FJD. I left the cab feeling warm, welcome, and excited to explore the city.
This scene replayed itself in a variety of ways over the day, from fish sellers giving me descriptions of the best fishing spots, to a shop keeper spending a half hour describing the history of a series of beautifully-carved wooden souvenirs. She covered each one in turn, from the ceremonial “Neck Breaker” (you can deduce what it was for), to the woven cloth used in weddings. You could tell she was thrilled to have an audience with which to share her island’s culture. When I asked what she loved most about the island, she giggled and said “Fiji is the way the rest of the world should be!”