Wednesday, 5 September 2012
A delightful lack of purpose
Monday John went to work and I didn't. That has not happened for a long, long time. Since 1999 to be precise. I'd like to say that I felt a deep-seated lack of purpose, but I didn't. I just poured myself another cup of coffee and plopped myself down on the sofa to read my book.
(This photo is from Sunday - Alex kayaking on the Coral Coast).
Around lunchtime we set out on our first adventure without John. We caught a taxi and went to Colo-I-Suva, which is a small rainforest reserve near the city. The taxi driver drove straight past the large signs ("Welcome to Colo-I-Suva!"). I thought that he must know another way, but Anna is smarter than me (and less trusting) so eventually he turned around and took us back to where we were supposed to go. Taxi drivers here evidently do not have "the knowledge" like their London counterparts. A little worrying if I'm going to be the one telling them where to go. Fortunately the island is fairly small and round.
We paid our entrance fee (£1 in total, for all three of us) and after a brief hike though jungle we arrived at some swimming holes which were part of a waterfall system. In my head these were blue and glistening in dappled sunlight. In fact, they were tinged red with mud and it was drizzling. However the water felt freezing cold so it was refreshing.
The jungle here appears to be devoid of animal life. There are no native mammals except fruit bats. Introduced mongoose and hunting have devastated the bird and snake population, so it felt like the only danger on our hike was from the possibility of slipping and twisting an ankle rather than being stung, bitten or eaten.
A little further on our walk, we came across an impossibly placed rope swing. The kind the makes a mother's heart stop and has her mutter aloud "no effing way". As Alex and Anna contemplated the possibility of flinging themselves off of a rock into the deep pool below, a group of young Fijian men demonstrated their rope swing prowess. One, in particular, would jump, swing out, wait until the rope was just at the turn to travel back, then let go and gracefully bend his body forward to dive into the water. His big grin when he surfaced showed that he was showing off in the nicest possible way.
He asked Alex if he wanted a turn and Alex bravely threw himself off a lower rock. Anna was keen to have a go, but it was clear from the way they all politely ignored her that she wasn't invited to play in a deep-rooted, cultural, sort of way. Interestingly, I felt no irritation or indignation, just an sense of gratefulness to the generations of progressive women and men that have meant that this sort of thing is rare in the other places I have lived.