Navala, Fiji

Fiji's Tribal Urbanism

A rush
Children from Navala welcome newcomers from abroad.
Green Lands of Nausori
Scenery from the Nausori Highlands, on the way to Navala.
The Vehicle at Height
Van progresses along a hillside road that connects Ba to Navala.
Traditional bures in the village of Navala
Eggplants on Promotion
An Indo-Fijian saleswoman sells vegetables at Ba Market in northern Fiji.
Fiji Highlands
Green slope of the Nausori Highlands, north of Viti Levu.
The future of the village
Young boy from Navala poses with pride.
Row of traditional Navala huts.
Kava Ceremony
Navala village chief conducts a welcome ceremony with Kava.
Animal & Vegetable
Vaca scales the huge sugarcane between Ba and Navala.
Navala Green
Panoramic view of Navala with coconut trees and the foothills of Nausori.
Small family
Indo-Fijian family against sugar cane that brought their ancestors to Fiji.
rolling slopes
Another rumpled backdrop from the Nausori Highlands.
Melanesian kids
Navala children excited by the visit of outsiders.
Bure among coconut trees
A Navala bure among coconut trees.
Fiji has adapted to the invasion of travelers with westernized hotels and resorts. But in the highlands of Viti Levu, Navala keeps its huts carefully aligned.

We had weathered the heavy rains and muddy patches of the island's eastern slope. We continued on the winding Kings Road, in a north and north still humid and luxuriant but already much more sunny and welcoming.

Few visitors make their way there and the natives are excited by the ephemeral passage of unexpected explorers. We marvel at the extra attention given to us in these confines of Viti Levu, in comparison with the somewhat indifferent treatment given by the population on the opposite coast.

Even more so with the gradual simplification of the curious and rhythmic names of the villages we had left behind: Rakiraki, Lomolomo, Kulukulu, Sanasana, Malolo, Malololailai, Namuamua, Tabutautau and others equally musical but not so easy to pronounce, cases of Nabukelevu, Korovisilou and Tilivalevu.

We cross Tavua and the coast of the peninsula of Vatia Point takes us to a place that we can finally say in one breath and without babbling like newborns. It's Ba.

Saleswoman going Fijian, Ba, Viti Levu, Fiji

An Indo-Fijian saleswoman sells vegetables at Ba Market in northern Fiji.

There are few reasons to linger in this unpretentious city located by the mouth of a river of the same name. We found out that the residents are crazy about football and that the local team often wins the national championships.

At the same time, Ba has the best horse racing track in Fiji and rejoices in equestrian competition. None of the competitions would take place in those days.

The Rough and Winding Path Between Ba and Navala

As such, we stock up on fruit at the market shared by native Melanesians and Indo-Fijians, we check into a humble hostel and make plans for the next day. The road to Navala departed from there but, worse than many goat paths, we could never get there in the FIAT Frail type that we had rented in a small family rent-a-car in Nadi.

We awoke in a resplendent dawn. We shave refreshing pineapple skewers when the guide who will take us to the village surprises us from inside an all-terrain mini-bus: “Go with us to Navala, won't you? Come in and get installed! From here we go there.”

The tour guide introduces himself again as Kali and to the passengers already on board, two Australian couples trying to add some excitement to their bathing holiday.

Then, the vehicle leaves the flat on which Ba rests. Climb slowly into the high domain of the Nausori range along such rough paths that had discouraged us.

Van on the way to Navala, Viti Levu, Fiji

Van progresses along a hillside road that connects Ba to Navala.

In a short time, we find ourselves surrounded by sugarcane plantations and Kali unwinds data that we filter as much as possible: that Fiji has a complex administrative division made up of 14 provinces each with districts, these, with cities and villages that group together clans, sub-clans and finally families.

That despite being strongly multicultural, the various ethnic and religious groups in the nation have learned to respect each other and conflicts are infrequent.

Sweet Tourists, Indo-Fijians and Melanesians

As we pass an old distillery, related humorous information catches passengers off guard and arouses little contained laughter: “as you can see, sugar was for a long time the great export and wealth of Fiji but, with the advent of tourism, you, my friends, became much sweeter than sugar.”

Landscape near Navala, Viti Levu, Fiji

Scenery from the Nausori Highlands, on the way to Navala.

We continue to climb along a wide path of beaten earth that breaks through vast areas of sugarcane as far as the eye can see.

From the top of one of the first slopes of the Nausori Mountains, a panoramic view finally opens and we stop to admire the jagged vastness of the cultivated fields between the foothills and the far South Pacific.

Nearby, we found three young Indo-Fijian brothers who were preparing to return home after a morning of harvest at a nearby plantation.

In our conversation with Atish, Radhika and Joythisma, we confirmed what we had already noticed.

Indo-Fijian trio, Ba, Viti Levu, Fiji

Indo-Fijian family against sugar cane that brought their ancestors to Fiji.

That most of these inhabitants displaced by the British settlers who hired them centuries before and brought them without return from the sub-continent because they needed skilled labor had lost track of their true ethnic origin.

The image we get of the three of them, lined up against sugarcane plants nearly twice their height, perfectly mirrors the way in which Fiji and Viti Levu, in particular, abruptly imposed themselves on the fate of their own ancestors, in cannibal times.

How they continued to subject their descendants to a kind of inherited exile.

The Harmonious Nasala, Embedded in the Vastness of Nausori

Some additional curves, counter-curves and bumps and we entered one of the first valleys of the mountain range, even greener than the scenery behind.

In the distance, nestled between graceful slopes, we glimpse a large nucleus of huts distributed among coconut trees with a refined geometry.

Kali announces: “There she is, the famous Navala. Another five minutes and we cross a river that must be full of kids playing, the village starts right on the other side.”

Navala, Viti Levu, Fiji

Traditional bures in the village of Navala

When we cross the bridge, the river kids rush to abandon it and follow the minibus until it comes to a standstill.

They surround us and welcome us with endless smiles and questions in the English they have only just begun to master.

Children of Navala, Viti Levu, Fiji

Children from Navala welcome newcomers from abroad.

A Ceremony of Bereaved Kava

Kali rescues us from her siege and leads us to the chief's bure and the main protocol obligation of the village. The interior of that upper cabin is large but dreary and uncomfortable.

Kali makes us sit on the mat that covers the floor and waits for the old man and his family to position themselves on the other half of the circumference.

We felt a heavy atmosphere in the air and the guide soon noticed it.

He explains to us that a very dear person had died and that the village was in mourning, which is why we could not walk freely between the houses as on a normal day and we would have to be restrained with photographs.

Then he introduces us as the outsiders that we are and begins a long exchange of phrases in which the term “naka” – the diminutive of the Fijian word for thank you “vinaka” – is repeated over and over again.

Chief, ceremony Kava, Navala, Fiji

Navala village chief conducts a welcome ceremony with Kava.

When the dialogue ends, the chief places a large coop (carved wooden container) in front of him and squeezes out roots of kava (a plant from the region) making the homonymous drink that has long intoxicated the men of the Melanesia and from Fiji.

When the broth is ready, a bowl is passed to each of the visitors. Two of the Australians refuse to drink it. They disappoint Kali and the hosts who, in spite of everything, have gone through this undone several times.

us and the other two aussies we make ourselves strong and we afflict ourselves with the strange minty earthy flavor of the mistela but soon we thank with our own “bedside” and we clapped our hands twice, as the guide had instructed us.

We drink just enough to respect the ceremony and don't feel like repeating it. It is safe from unwanted tropical drunkenness that we leave the chief to the grieving family.

We go out into the fresh but humid air outside, happy to be able to explore a little more of the village.

Bures, Navala, Viti Levu, Fiji

Row of traditional Navala huts.

Navala's Ecological Urbanism

There are more than two hundred bures of Navala, arranged according to criteria that the chiefs study stipulate and enforce to provide the approximately 800 subjects with an organized and functional life.

Around 1950, at a time when Fiji was home to the first luxury hotels and resorts, many of them in cement, the Navala community chose to reject modern materials – with the exception of the school and, for safety reasons, some structures that house generators.

The native youth were encouraged to learn the art of secular construction from the huts in which they had grown up. As a result, 60 years later, Navala is today the last of the large villages in Fiji built using wood, hut and dry clay alone.

Bure, Navala, Viti Levu, Fiji

A Navala bure among coconut trees.

His images appear in guides, books and postcards and dazzle virtually every visitor to Viti Levu. Fortunately for the natives, most attend Fiji only as a bathing retreat.

Until a few years ago, access to the valley in which it is located was much more complicated and, even if they wanted to, almost no foreigner could discover it.

Times have changed. Navala had to give in, at least in part.

Navala Village, Viti Levu, Fiji

Panoramic view of Navala with coconut trees and the foothills of Nausori.

Today, voluntarily or by force – we couldn't find out – Navala has a Facebook page filled in Fijian dialect and, the date of creation of this text, with 12 “likes” conquered.

It welcomes outsiders who, like us, arrive as best they can without neglecting the protection of its inhabitants from the harm of intrusion.

Meanwhile, the men of the village gather under a large communal structure and prepare a sacred funeral ritual that forces us to leave.

Children of Navala, Viti Levu, Fiji

Navala children excited by the visit of outsiders.

When we leave her back to Ba, the younger ones do as their young age advises them. They ignore the loss of their counterpart.

They say goodbye in the same way they had welcomed us, with frantic running after the mini-bus, waving, grimacing and the excitement of those who share life in a tribe that has long protected its traditions and knows how to value itself.

Viti levu, Fiji

The Unlikely Sharing of Viti Levu Island

In the heart of the South Pacific, a large community of Indian descendants recruited by former British settlers and the Melanesian indigenous population have long divided the chief island of Fiji.
Viti levu, Fiji

Cannibalism and Hair, Fiji Islands' Old Pastimes

For 2500 years, anthropophagy has been part of everyday life in Fiji. In more recent centuries, the practice has been adorned by a fascinating hair cult. Luckily, only vestiges of the latest fashion remain.
Viti levu, Fiji

Islands on the edge of Islands

A substantial part of Fiji preserves the agricultural expansions of the British colonial era. In the north and off the large island of Viti Levu, we also came across plantations that have only been named for a long time.
Longsheng, China

Huang Luo: the Chinese Village of the Longest Hairs

In a multi-ethnic region covered with terraced rice paddies, the women of Huang Luo have surrendered to the same hairy obsession. They let the longest hair in the world grow, years on end, to an average length of 170 to 200 cm. Oddly enough, to keep them beautiful and shiny, they only use water and rice.
Nzulezu, Ghana

A Village Afloat in Ghana

We depart from the seaside resort of Busua, to the far west of the Atlantic coast of Ghana. At Beyin, we veered north towards Lake Amansuri. There we find Nzulezu, one of the oldest and most genuine lake settlements in West Africa.

Homes Sweet Homes

Few species are more social and gregarious than humans. Man tends to emulate other homes sweet homes in the world. Some of these houses are impressive.
Pueblos del Sur, Venezuela

Behind the Venezuela Andes. Fiesta Time.

In 1619, the authorities of Mérida dictated the settlement of the surrounding territory. The order resulted in 19 remote villages that we found dedicated to commemorations with caretos and local pauliteiros.
Ogimashi, Japan

A Village Faithful to the A

Ogimashi reveals a fascinating heritage of Japanese adaptability. Located in one of the most snowy places on Earth, this village has perfected houses with real anti-collapse structures.
Amboseli National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, Normatior Hill
Amboseli National Park, Kenya

A Gift from the Kilimanjaro

The first European to venture into these Masai haunts was stunned by what he found. And even today, large herds of elephants and other herbivores roam the pastures irrigated by the snow of Africa's biggest mountain.
Muktinath to Kagbeni, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal, Kagbeni
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit 14th - Muktinath to Kagbeni, Nepal,

On the Other Side of the Pass

After the demanding crossing of Thorong La, we recover in the cozy village of Muktinath. The next morning we proceed back to lower altitudes. On the way to the ancient kingdom of Upper Mustang and the village of Kagbeni that serves as its gateway.
Alaskan Lumberjack Show Competition, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA
Architecture & Design
Ketchikan, Alaska

Here begins Alaska

The reality goes unnoticed in most of the world, but there are two Alaskas. In urban terms, the state is inaugurated in the south of its hidden frying pan handle, a strip of land separated from the contiguous USA along the west coast of Canada. Ketchikan, is the southernmost of Alaskan cities, its Rain Capital and the Salmon Capital of the World.
Salto Angel, Rio that falls from the sky, Angel Falls, PN Canaima, Venezuela
PN Canaima, Venezuela

Kerepakupai, Salto Angel: The River that Falls from Heaven

In 1937, Jimmy Angel landed a light aircraft on a plateau lost in the Venezuelan jungle. The American adventurer did not find gold but he conquered the baptism of the longest waterfall on the face of the Earth
Moa on a beach in Rapa Nui/Easter Island
Ceremonies and Festivities
Easter Island, Chile

The Take-off and Fall of the Bird-Man Cult

Until the XNUMXth century, the natives of Easter Island they carved and worshiped great stone gods. All of a sudden, they started to drop their moai. The veneration of tanatu manu, a half-human, half-sacred leader, decreed after a dramatic competition for an egg.
Hiroshima, city surrendered to peace, Japan
Hiroshima, Japan

Hiroshima: a City Yielded to Peace

On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima succumbed to the explosion of the first atomic bomb used in war. 70 years later, the city fights for the memory of the tragedy and for nuclear weapons to be eradicated by 2020.
Margilan, Uzbekistan

An Uzbekistan's Breadwinner

In one of the many bakeries in Margilan, worn out by the intense heat of the tandyr oven, the baker Maruf'Jon works half-baked like the distinctive traditional breads sold throughout Uzbekistan
shadow of success
Champoton, Mexico

Rodeo Under Sombreros

Champoton, in Campeche, hosts a fair honored by the Virgén de La Concepción. O rodeo Mexican under local sombreros reveals the elegance and skill of the region's cowboys.
Reindeer Racing, Kings Cup, Inari, Finland
Inari, Finland

The Wackiest Race on the Top of the World

Finland's Lapps have been competing in the tow of their reindeer for centuries. In the final of the Kings Cup - Porokuninkuusajot - , they face each other at great speed, well above the Arctic Circle and well below zero.
Annapurna Circuit: 5th- Ngawal-BragaNepal,

Towards the Nepalese Braga

We spent another morning of glorious weather discovering Ngawal. There is a short journey towards Manang, the main town on the way to the zenith of the Annapurna circuit. We stayed for Braga (Braka). The hamlet would soon prove to be one of its most unforgettable places.
Bathers in the middle of the End of the World-Cenote de Cuzamá, Mérida, Mexico
Yucatan, Mexico

The End of the End of the World

The announced day passed but the End of the World insisted on not arriving. In Central America, today's Mayans watched and put up with incredulity all the hysteria surrounding their calendar.
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

life outside

, Mexico, city of silver and gold, homes over tunnels
Guanajuato, Mexico

The City that Shines in All Colors

During the XNUMXth century, it was the city that produced the most silver in the world and one of the most opulent in Mexico and colonial Spain. Several of its mines are still active, but the impressive wealth of Guanuajuato lies in the multicolored eccentricity of its history and secular heritage.
Network launch, Ouvéa Island-Lealdade Islands, New Caledonia
Ouvéa, New Caledonia

Between Loyalty and Freedom

New Caledonia has always questioned integration into faraway France. On the island of Ouvéa, Loyalty Archipelago, we find an history of resistance but also natives who prefer French-speaking citizenship and privileges.
Geothermal, Iceland Heat, Ice Land, Geothermal, Blue Lagoon
Winter White

The Geothermal Coziness of the Ice Island

Most visitors value Iceland's volcanic scenery for its beauty. Icelanders also draw from them heat and energy crucial to the life they lead to the Arctic gates.
shadow vs light
Kyoto, Japan

The Kyoto Temple Reborn from the Ashes

The Golden Pavilion has been spared destruction several times throughout history, including that of US-dropped bombs, but it did not withstand the mental disturbance of Hayashi Yoken. When we admired him, he looked like never before.
Cape cross seal colony, cape cross seals, Namibia
Cape Cross, Namíbia

The Most Turbulent of the African Colonies

Diogo Cão landed in this cape of Africa in 1486, installed a pattern and turned around. The immediate coastline to the north and south was German, South African, and finally Namibian. Indifferent to successive transfers of nationality, one of the largest seal colonies in the world has maintained its hold there and animates it with deafening marine barks and endless tantrums.
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Ijen Volcano, Slaves of Sulfur, Java, Indonesia
Natural Parks
Ijen volcano, Indonesia

The Ijen Volcano Sulphur Slaves

Hundreds of Javanese surrender to the Ijen volcano where they are consumed by poisonous gases and loads that deform their shoulders. Each turn earns them less than €30 but everyone is grateful for their martyrdom.
Matukituki River, New Zealand
UNESCO World Heritage
Wanaka, New Zealand

The Antipodes Great Outdoors

If New Zealand is known for its tranquility and intimacy with Nature, Wanaka exceeds any imagination. Located in an idyllic setting between the homonymous lake and the mystic Mount Aspiring, it became a place of worship. Many kiwis aspire to change their lives there.
In elevator kimono, Osaka, Japan
Osaka, Japan

In the Company of Mayu

Japanese nightlife is a multi-faceted, multi-billion business. In Osaka, an enigmatic couchsurfing hostess welcomes us, somewhere between the geisha and the luxury escort.
Cahuita, Costa Rica, Caribbean, beach
Cahuita, Costa Rica

An Adult Return to Cahuita

During a backpacking tour of Costa Rica in 2003, the Caribbean warmth of Cahuita delights us. In 2021, after 18 years, we return. In addition to an expected, but contained modernization and hispanization of the town, little else had changed.
Helsinki, Finland

The Pagan Passover of Seurasaari

In Helsinki, Holy Saturday is also celebrated in a Gentile way. Hundreds of families gather on an offshore island, around lit fires to chase away evil spirits, witches and trolls
white pass yukon train, Skagway, Gold Route, Alaska, USA
On Rails
Skagway, Alaska

A Klondike's Gold Fever Variant

The last great American gold rush is long over. These days, hundreds of cruise ships each summer pour thousands of well-heeled visitors into the shop-lined streets of Skagway.
Busy intersection of Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan

The Endless Night of the Rising Sun Capital

Say that Tokyo do not sleep is an understatement. In one of the largest and most sophisticated cities on the face of the Earth, twilight marks only the renewal of the frenetic daily life. And there are millions of souls that either find no place in the sun, or make more sense in the “dark” and obscure turns that follow.
Coin return
Daily life
Dawki, India

Dawki, Dawki, Bangladesh on sight

We descended from the high and mountainous lands of Meghalaya to the flats to the south and below. There, the translucent and green stream of the Dawki forms the border between India and Bangladesh. In a damp heat that we haven't felt for a long time, the river also attracts hundreds of Indians and Bangladeshis in a picturesque escape.
female and cub, grizzly footsteps, katmai national park, alaska
PN Katmai, Alaska

In the Footsteps of the Grizzly Man

Timothy Treadwell spent summers on end with the bears of Katmai. Traveling through Alaska, we followed some of its trails, but unlike the species' crazy protector, we never went too far.
Full Dog Mushing
Scenic Flights
Seward, Alaska

The Alaskan Dog Mushing Summer

It's almost 30 degrees and the glaciers are melting. In Alaska, entrepreneurs have little time to get rich. Until the end of August, dog mushing cannot stop.