The baptism of the villages that we were passing through would never help us to conclude the main ethnic genesis of Fiji.
Miles of curves and curves followed one another on the mountainous and verdant east coast.
As we walked through them, we were confronted by an unbelievable cast of hamlets and hamlets with repeated syllables: Rakiraki, Lomolomo, Kulukulu, Sanasana, Malolo, Malololailai, Namuamua, Tabutautau, Navala and so on.
The farther we drove north, the more examples we could list, sandwiched between Kings Road and the Koro Sea or between that island's royal semi-circular road and the forested ranges or yellowish-green plant lining that towered over the west.
In any case, the conclusion would never prove either easy or unambiguous.
The Ethnic and Political Peculiarities of the Melanesian Archipelago of Fiji
Lost to the west of the South Pacific, the Fijian archipelago has been shaped over 3500 years by diverse Polynesian, Melanesian and Micronesian cultures since the Lapita people arrived there from the neighboring archipelagos of the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, devoted himself to agriculture and multiplied immeasurably, which gave rise to recurring tribal confrontations.
Today, the most frequent conflicts take place, above all, between the generals of the armed forces and the politicians who fight for power in the archipelago, resorting to frequent coups d'état and even kidnappings.
Agriculture, on the other hand, remains vigorous, stimulated by Indo-Fijian community that the British settlers took from the India to the archipelago from 1879 to 1916 and established there forever.
Among the roadside villages, we confirmed that the sugar cane that the British condemned their new workers is still sovereign.
It fills in most of the Viti Levu that natives and settlers managed to steal from the jungle, original in the days when the great plantations they guaranteed even greater fortunes.
Sugarcane, however, never became a monopolist. Off the north coast, owners of islands too small to house the plant protected from the salty sea breeze, opted for an obvious alternative. Upon arrival, many of these islands were already surrounded by coconut trees.
Coconut has always had its own value, both that of the husk, used for a series of fibers, fabrics and materials, and that of the pulp, when not preserved for direct feeding, delivered to the copra industry (from the Tamil dialect malayalam: koppara) which produces the prized coconut oil from it.
We had been exploring Viti Levu for some time. Suddenly, the idea of taking a look at some of the secondary islands off the coast comes to mind, as we were approaching Lautoka and Nadi, from where ferry connections to several of them departed.
We stopped in Lautoka in order to recover energy. We took the opportunity to make some calls from a local telephone booth, lost in a square with Muslim shops on one side, Hindu on the other.
These calls resulted in an invitation to spend a few days in a Plantation Island. In need of some rest from the bath, we gladly accepted it and hurried to deliver the rental car and move there.
Plantation Island that Reaps Tourism Profits
Hannah and Brian Kirsch, a young Australian couple who ran the island's resorts, welcome us.
Hannah made sure we were settled in and pampered as best as possible. "I'm sure you'll love it!" assured us. “I only leave here for long trips. I don't like Nadi at all and it's too much work for me to reach deep Viti Levu.”
We did our best to show appreciation for his seclusion from the real Fiji, apparently with success.
Hannah seemed pleased to unburden herself with visitors she considered more or less her type: “I go to Australia a lot more often than Viti Levu. They know I had family in Port Arthur, Tasmania.
But there was that serial killer problem, I don't know if you've heard. My aunt got away from the list of victims. Still, she was forced to sell the hotel and everything else because of the massacre's negative reputation.”
The world is not exactly small but, by coincidence, we were aware of what the hostess was telling us. A few months earlier, we had passed the crime scene.
We learned about the killing perpetrated by Martin Bryant, in 1996, in the local museum penal colony, the deadliest ever caused by single-person shots until the Norwegian Anders Breivik, which set a record four years ago, on the island of Utoya .
It didn't take long for us to realize that while her aunt had sold her Tasmanian hotel, Hannah and the three siblings who seemed to be living on obvious financial relief had just inherited this entire incredible island from their late father, Reginald Raffe.
Reginal has become respected in Fiji for his pioneering contribution to the development of the Mamanucas, an archipelago full of chalk-sand beaches, crystal-clear seas.
Sometimes turquoise, sometimes emerald with photogenic sandbars and coral reefs submerged at the whim of the tides.
Plantation Island – also known as Malolo Lailai – was the second largest and the island with the most infrastructure in this archipelago. Until 1966, it had been owned by a Chinese family named Wong Ket who took an irregular profit from the thousands of coconut trees planted.
Australian wealthy Raffe and other partners bought it and built the current airstrip. Gradually, they also endowed it with bures (Fijian huts) refined and prepared it to welcome the wave of Aussies and kiwis (later Asians) visitors that started to sail to Fiji and made this island nation the most touristic in the South Pacific.
Plantation Island or Malolo Lailai: from Coqueiral to Fiji Providential Island-Resort
Hundreds of natives found themselves trapped in the jobs created by investors. At Plantation Island, it was mostly women and mahus (Thus is called the third kind of Polynesia) those responsible for customer service and treatment.
"How are you finding the island so far?" officials such as Teresia and Api – the latter with very strong effeminate gestures – who were more than faithful to their role and the tradition of welcoming their land, questioned us too often: “They've already gone to take a look at the view of Uluisolo, the highest point on the island ?
From there you can even see the Yasawas. Go, however, who catch the sunset! "
We still walked there but we didn't get there in time.
Incursion to the Divine Sand Bank of Malolo
To compensate, the next day, early in the morning, we went straight out on a speedboat and snorkeling itinerary through the barrier reef of malolo with a last bathing stop on the sand banks in front of the island.
The helmsman and the assistant on board had the tide's evolution controlled almost to the second and made the passengers disembark at the precise moment when the water was beginning to discover the shallows.
At a glance, small, almost private beaches were discovered, which all guests enjoyed without ceremony, some simply delighted in simultaneous baths in the sea and sun, others in a flurry of much more physical activities.
The motorboat's entourage was at this assorted playground when, out of nowhere, like a superhero hanging from the clouds, a young man appeared at full speed kite surfer who entertained himself by showing off his mastery on the board. One of the boat's crew did not resist the gossip:
“It's Jason Raffe, one of Hannah's brothers. When he's here, he spends his days either diving or doing that. There are lives like that!”