FIJI AND ITS PEOPLE
Over the Holiday break I had the privilege of safely traveling to Fiji with my family in order to reset, refresh, and reconnect. After 2 years of not being able to see my family, my cousin and I decided to meet in Fiji for 10 days. I was so excited to meet with them that I didn't have much on my agenda besides hanging out with her, but on the second day we drove to a close by village that was home to the Biausevu Waterfall (also known as Savu Na Mate Laya Falls). What I didn't anticipate was how inspired I would feel while I was there, by the people and the place. When one thinks of Fiji, what probably comes to mind are staged instagram-able hi-definition images, resort-like simplicity, but we quickly realized that it is so much more than that. The lush green mountains and the dense forestation is home to resources that heal and sustain thousands of villages.
After being on the dirt road for 20 minutes we were ushered into a nearby village by an incredibly welcoming local. He seemed happy to see us and somewhat relieved. We learned later that we were the first to visit their village in the last 2 years. Feeling somewhat special, we followed him into the community room to meet with the other members of the village who seemed ready to greet us as they each sat in front of a display of wooden cava bowls, wooden masks and trinkets which looked hand made and for sale. We patiently waited while they explained the hike to the waterfall and how a small fee to access the falls allowed the village to maintain their land. We agreed and they went on to perform a small cava ceremony for us. After our walk to the falls which was an unforgettable experience we landed up having lunch with the village and that is when I totally fell in love with the people. Their homes were simple but what I respected most was the way they used their resources, and how giving they were with whatever little they had, knowing that nature will always provide in abundance.
After that encounter I was hooked. I wanted to connect with more villages and see how they lived. Meanwhile at some resorts I found out that the staff was paid 30 Fijian dollars for the day which is 15 US dollars. Bullshit, I thought. I traveled to more remote villages, some that had access only by boat. As we navigated upstream the dense forest around me felt much like Jurassic Park. The highlanders live simple lives. With access to endless sources of spring water they eat what they grow and fish from local waters. The plants around them provide them with food, shelter and heal ailments. Making the best with what you have means that nothing goes to waste. Whether it be medicine, food or a household item they have figured out how to use their resources to live a simple and happy lifestyle.
The creativity and joy woven into their lifestyle was what inspired me the most. Many of the women from the villages who are skilled in weaving and pottery also make mats and bowls to sell. But no matter the demand, their priorities will always lie within the community, their culture, family and their connection to nature.
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Amrita | Founder