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The Art of Appreciation


FIJI | Thursday, 8 May 2014 | Views [453]

Local children at Namatakula

Local children at Namatakula

As we reached the point where our feet no longer scraped along the jagged rocks of the sea floor and the water became still but for the ripples caused by our own movements, Ellie and I flipped onto our backs and gazed back at the sight before us. A mass of rocky land jutted out into the ocean, spilling down onto sea level land on either side. At the base of the steep drop to the water we could make out the pointy rocks and pebbled sand that could be used to navigate the way around the crag in low tides; indeed where we’d stumbled and cut our feet only moments earlier, laughing at our desperation to complete our mission.

To the right of the cliff was the place we’d just left; a resort. Our eyes were met by white sand, the aqua sparkle of a swimming pool surrounded by sun lounges, beachfront bures and the poolside bar where we had just claimed our prize.

To the left, we observed some combination of wilderness and civilisation. A sagging volleyball net was the main feature of a beach covered in driftwood and palm leaves, and what a feature it was for the local children who could be perceived racing about it. Through the abundance of tropical plant growth few buildings could be distinguished. Unlike the sturdy structures on the side we had just left, Ellie and I were aware these buildings were basic formations, open to the elements and often overflowing with life. Behind the curtain of trees enclosing the beach we could picture the free ranging chickens and the shambolic structure of the village that could not be more different from the grid like design we were used to in Australia. We could envision the locals sitting on their verandas sharing kava and hailing each other as they walked past.

In a beautifully kept hut on the far side of the village our Fijian host mother Laite would be preparing us a home cooked meal from scratch whilst her often absent husband worked late into the night. Our three year old host brother Billy might be watching a 30 year old movie on their cracked television screen, waiting to feign shyness when we returned then communicate with us through giggles and cheekiness for the remainder of the evening.
Most importantly we could see home.

Our delicate stomachs calmed by the packets of chips we’d shared at the resort, my best friend and I struck out for the world we had briefly left behind.

Tags: beaches, contrast, fiji, locals, namatakula, ocean, swimming, view, volunteering

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