sabato 26 marzo 2011

Fiji, the second house of Jesus

Those unbelievable Fiji Islands
There's a tiny little place on this planet where tribal ancient traditions meet progress and new technology, where untouched and generous nature meets respect and awareness, where friendliness is not just a word but a way of living, where just the sound of the name inspire of holiday, relax and magic. This is Fiji, a place that never stops to amaze me.
For sure you might have heard and seen of those mysterious Fiji Islands. Many stories have been told in many movies, many celebrities choose these Islands for their vacations, many myths surround this South Pacific archipelago and many travel agents underline the beauty of these shores but what if one day you will leave your old world behind and take the crazy decision to transfer your family and live in this far away island nation?
First thing first!
Fiji is a small Island nation of 300 more islands most of which is habited only by a few families or villages. Fiji’s territory (mostly water) covers an area of 18400 square kilometres and it is located about 3000 kilometres from Australia, 2000 from New Zealand, 5000 from Hawai’i and 7000 from Japan, just on the Antimeridian and 500 kilometres north of the Tropic of Capricorn. The 2 biggest Islands (Viti Levu and Vanua Levu) are home of the majority of the population that is part native Fijian and part indo Fijian. Being populated by a half of Indian rooted people and a half of indigenous natives gave this country the opportunity to be one of the happiest multicultural places in the world. You can find Methodist or Catholics churches, Hindu temples, Muslim Mosques, Orthodox temples and this multi culture doesn’t stop on religions. Being so close to New Zealand and Australia there are also al lot of people from these nations that have brought their food (mostly Chinese and Italian), way of living and, most of all their sport, Rugby.
The history of Fiji is relatively short but complex. It seems that the first tribes arrived on these islands around the 3500 BC but the first real Fijian tribes arrived on these lands only 3500 years ago. The first Fijians were great merchants, good canoe builders (but bad sailors), fearsome warriors and scary cannibals (believe me on the “scary”). Cannibalism in Fiji stopped about 140 years ago when some courageous Christian missionaries spread the gospel to the right Chiefs. Before that moment there’s no count of how many courageous became main course but there are some tales that I suggest only to not-easily impressionable folks. The First European explorers (Seventeenth century) stayed away from the shores for... valid reasons but eventually, European and Americans started the “white colonization” of the Fiji Islands. In 1849, Chief Epenisa Cakobau was found guilty by the Americans of burning a settlement on Nukulau Island and asked him a refund of 44000 US$. Cakobau, afraid of an American invasion, gave up Fiji to the British Crown. The English colonized the islands in a way that was protecting, maybe excusing, the natives and, to provide labour to the sugarcane plantations, came up with the Idea of “importing ” some Indian harms. Already after the beginning of the 20th century the Indians living in Fiji were more than 60000. Fiji became independent only in the 1970 and at that time there were some incomprehension between the 2 populations.
Fiji is also famous in its modern history for the 4 coup that have taken place. I don’t want to bore you with all the details of the political unrests of those years but it is curious to see that only a few shots were fired during the first coups and none during the last (which, in 2011, is still in place).
Today Fiji is a happy Republic governed by Commodore Frank Voreqe Bainimarama who took power in 2006 to stop the spreading corruption of his predecessor. Lot of media (especially Australian) are trying to convince the world of the wrong doing of our Commodore and how he overthrown democracy but, after so many years in Fiji, let me tell you that life is actually better without democracy and a just ruler. In fact, even if the next elections are scheduled to be in 2014, the living situation in Fiji is slowly improving, unhappiness between the natives and the indo-Fijian are fading, economy is going up, tourism has never been better, bureaucracy is becoming less complicated and crime is diminishing. ..and all without firing one single bullet but seeking approval of the chiefs, the people, improving where’s needed and cutting out the bad herbs.
Don’t get me wrong, didn’t I say that this place is magic?
But magic maybe magic is the wrong word. I’d say it’s more mysterious.
Fiji is mysterious in its legends, rich in colour and deep in the tribal tradition of the natives. Still today some practices are performed as daily life, still today the stories of an ancient world are told to the young and still today a visit to a small village far away from a city will show that we don’t need many things to live a decent life. All we need is our roots, our dears, our nature and to be truth to ourselves.
I was reading a few months ago that lot of people in Fiji are living under the poverty line but the Fijian are the richest poor in the world. Thanks to the luscious nature, Fijian people living in a traditional village can grow a vast amount of crops, fish and incredible diversity of fruits from the sea and build whatever they need from the multi functional coconut plant (which Fiji is rich in almost every corner).
If you’re thinking “OH, I WANNA LIVE LIKE THAT” hold your horses, this life is reserved to the natives Fijian.
Indian, European, Australian and all the other expats in Fiji are considered a source of income for the local community so, unless you create a company of some sort that employs local workforce or unless you find a local company that employ you providing you with a working permit, you cannot live in Fiji for more than 6 months at time. This is the duration of the tourist visa.
Seems paradise, isn’t it?... well, not all that glitters is gold.
As in many other island nations like Fiji, the young want to live in the cities and search for more “professionals” ways to prosperity. Call it progress, call it the root of all evil, call what you want but this is not stopping Fiji to keep its heritage alive. One of the most curious things I’ve discovered on the outer islands is that, in a family, the first born son cannot leave the Island so he can look after his relatives and the island community. Also, if the first 4 sons al all males the 4th son will learn all the mother skills and duty to help the household with the duties and responsibilities that only a woman in Fiji can provide. This might open up the discussion of sexual freedom in Fiji but it is a story I might write in the future.
As you can imagine, it is not easy to keep your roots firm in the ground if your community lives on a outer island with just a few families but traditions, commitment, knowledge of nature, a couple of tourists to entertain every now and then, and a couple of bilo of Kava at the right time makes this all possible.
If you don’t know what Kava is:
Kava (yaqona) is the traditional South Pacific substitute to Italian espresso. The effect are very different and explain a great deal about these civilizations. If Italian espresso (i’m talking about a good short black) wakes you up, gives you energy and doesn’t make you sleep at night, Kava is the opposite. After a few bowls (bilo = a half coconut shell full) you might feel sleepy, lazy and not in the mood to do anything. The drinking of Kava is not only part of a Fijian social life but is, culturally speaking, the most important step to understand and be part of a Fijian community or event.
When you’ll enter in a village for the first time you have to bring some Kava as a gift that you, the Chief, and the rest of the “high society” must drink to celebrate you arrival. If a Minister will celebrate a new building opening or a VIP arrival, Kava must be drunk! If a citizen of a village has done wrong, to excuse himself Kava must be gifted to the local Chief.
Kava..Kava... what’s that?
Kava is a drink extracted from the powder of the Yaqona root diluted in water. If somebody in Fiji offers you a bowl of Kava, clap once to accept it and 3 times after you drank it ... in one go!
How does it taste? .. like mud but there’s an anesthetic aftertaste.
Usually, after a Kava ceremony (Savusavu), you will enjoy a surprisingly performance of dancing and singing by the boys and the ladies of the village. A show that I cannot describe with words. A Must see for yourself... or, if you had some kava, you can search on Youtube for “Kava ceremony”.
The Kava ceremony is also a ceremony of nature.
The
myth of Kava in the South Pacific tells us of a love story where nature embraces and amplify the noble feeling. A nature that in Fiji gifts us with incredible surprises like the Fijian Crested Iguana, the Incredible flower Tagimoucia, endemic species of indescribable beauty, incredible landscapes rich of mysterious stories, entertaining legends of islands and seas, endless plantations of Papaya, Coconuts and Pineapples, and the strength of untameable cyclones.
Yes, cyclones are a part of Fiji daily life between November and April. Nothing to worry. Everything that goes down will be rebuilt. Fiji’s mother nature is good but nature, as we have seen recently in Japan, cannot be controlled. Luckily in Fiji we’ve never had major Tsunamis or major Cyclones.
Fiji is the paradise for tourists.
People that just want to have a chink of this marvellous micro-world perfect for divers, anglers, honeymooners, nature lovers and thrill seekers, Fiji offers an indescribable sea life, white sandy beach, lush forest and plantation walks, traditions, legends and stories to be told all life long, dreamy sunset on the South Pacific sea and resorts and hotels for every pocket and expectations.
But will you really make that crazy decision?
In my purely personal opinion,
Fiji is a land of understanding and personal confrontation.
I’ve seen many expat families come here with lots of expectations and go back just after few months of Fiji life. I’ve seen heaps of rampant entrepreneurs going back with the tail within their legs, I’ve seen lots of dreamers with their dream broken and, you know, reality hurts!
Living in Fiji means:
First of all to be open and understanding.
People here say that with this heat (basically over 23 Celsius all year long with peak of 34 in February) you cannot run and be hurry, you have to stay cool... in the real and modern meaning of the word. No rush but patience. No hurry but slowly. No upset but ... well if locals makes you upset with their calm mood, you’re wrong, you’re in Fiji... explain yourself, make the locals understand where you came from.. It’s not Europe or America everywhere on this planet.
As you, workers and entrepreneurs from the modern world, might think, working in Fiji with the locals is not easy... Who said it was. It is not! It takes al lot of... patience and understanding.
A promotion done by the Fiji Tourism Authority a few years back said: “Fiji, the way the world should be”. Could it be true?
Well, if your Idea of living in a different place could be this, you cannot say it unless you live it.
So, first of all, get in the
Fiji mood, relax, take a deep breath, go on a vacation and spend a few weeks in the magic and mysterious islands of Fiji.
By Ivan Pisoni
36 years old, Italian.
Founder and co author for the blog
ItalianiaFiji.it.
Founder, webmaster and co owner of the tour operator for the
Fiji Islands Vacanzeafiji.it.
Director for
Global Premium Service LTD.
Still living in
Fiji since 1996


16 commenti:

vinc ha detto...

Detto così dev'essere un posto da favola.

:-)

sergio cusumano ha detto...

E lo è caro Vincenzo.

Le Figi sono un vero PARADISO.

Anonimo ha detto...

Quando si parte ragazzi?

B. C.

Francesco Pedroni ha detto...

Fantastiche!
Avete letto il link (http://www.heretical.com/cannibal/fiji.html) sul cannibalismo di quei posti.
Agghiacciante!
E solo un secolo fa.

:-D

vinc ha detto...

@Francesco


Perdinci, non avevo fatto caso al link sul cannibalismo e credo siano storie vere.
Infatti ho fatto una piccola ricerca su internet e ho trovato molte storie affini.

Luciano Ardoino ha detto...

Non male eh?
;-)

Ivanet ha detto...

Sono davvero contento che questo mio articolo (penso il primo che io abbia scritto in inglese) sulle Fiji vi sia piaciuto. Volevo ringraziare Luciano per l'oppurtinita' ed invitare tutti coloro interessati alle Fiji a visitare il mio blog su questo fantastico paese http://www.italianiafiji.it .
Dalle Fiji MOCE MADA (a presto),
Ivan

Luciano Ardoino ha detto...

Bula Ivan,

il piacere è stato il mio.
Il "pezzo" poi, in neanche un giorno, ha già avuto oltre 3.000 contatti.
Beh che dire; le Fiji ti rimangono nel cuore ancor peggio che il mal d'Africa e Sergio Cusumano (un commentatore del blog) che c'è stato, può tranquillamente confermarlo.
Personalmente, dopo aver girato il mondo in largo e in lungo, le Fiji mantengono la prima posizione assoluta per via dell'incredibile carattere della popolazione e naturalmente dei luoghi mozzafiato.
Moce mada Ivan

sergio cusumano ha detto...

Vatulele

Ci siamo stati nel 2001, poco prima dell'attentato a N.Y.
Quello che mi ha impressionato è che quando siamo andati via, gli isolani piangevano dispiaciuti. Mai visto una cosa simile.
Il mare è di una linpidezza assoluta e ricco di tutte le meraviglie del mondo.
Ma la cosa più buffa è stato l'arrivo a Nadi (aeroporto).

Bula bula bula

Anonimo ha detto...

Ecco un posto dove non sono mai andata nonostante il mio continuo pellegrinare e dovrei andrei volentieri.
Bravo Ivan e ben fatto Luciano.

Renata

Anonimo ha detto...

Mio Dio che cose:

'....Sern, the Bau chief, then had their arms and legs cut off, cooked and eaten, some of the flesh being presented to them. He then ordered a fish-hook to be put into their tongues, which were then drawn out as far as possible before being cut off. These were roasted and eaten, to the taunts of ‘We are eating your tongues!’ As life in the victims was still not extinct, an incision was made in the side of each man, and his bowels taken out. This soon terminated their sufferings in this world'.

Anonimo ha detto...

Complimenti per il traguardo del milione di visitatori (!) e grazie per l'interessante odierna lettura in treno.
Anthony

Luciano Ardoino ha detto...

Buongiorno Anthony,
grazie dei complimenti e della visita.

:-)

Stella di mare ha detto...

Un racconto e una descrizione bellissima.
Grazie Ivan

Ivanet ha detto...

Un VINAKA VAKALEVU (grazie mille) speciale a tutti gli amanti delle Fiji.
Ivan

Luciano Ardoino ha detto...

VINAKA VAKALEVU a te caro amico.

Moce mada