When we were getting the Hagg Bank house ready for renters, I had a quiet mantra, which went something like this: "painting the bathroom is worth one massage" or "painting the woodwork in the bedroom is worth one night in a resort". Anna spent endless hours researching resorts, but in the end we opted to spend our first short break in a place recommended to us by one of John's colleagues.
Naigaini Island Resort has mixed reviews on Trip Advisor, so we trawled through them and armed ourselves with snacks to counter the negative food reviews and lowered expectations in regards to all other aspects of resort life. John got left behind to attend a graduation ceremony and yet another university dinner.
Earlier that day when we went to Anna's school for her exams, we happened to get into a taxi with backseat seatbelts - hallelujah! After ascertaining that the driver didn't drive like a madman, I engaged him to take us on the 1-1/2 hour trip up the coast to Natovi Landing.
Our little boat's departure was delayed in the chaos of loading buses and heavy trucks onto the Ovalau ferry, which had arrived late. It gave Anna a chance to make friends with a older local lady, who lives in Lavuka, the old Fijian capital on Ovalau. It's amazing what you learn making small talk. The black and white striped sea snakes around here are still revered as gods by some locals, the new electronic voter registration system has been an abject failure and Naigani is owned by a "very bad man", a politician who has feathered his nest with public money. She said the word politician while writing a big question mark in the air.
Naigani resort is about location, location, location. On this island there is one resort and one village. You have to wade to the shore from the boat. Our bure (the local word for bungalow) is right on the beach and next to the pool. After dropping our bags off, we went for a short walk along the gorgeous beach, then headed for the bar, where Anna & I ordered "something pink" while Alex ordered a delicious Fiji Gold beer to drink while the sun went down.
Alex regards Anna's pink drink with disdain.
The snorkeling here is some of the best (and easiest) in Fiji. You roll out of bed, walk down to the beach, swim out about 20 meters and there appears enormous patches of beautiful coral in crystal clear water. We kayaked over to the next bay which has a lovely small sandy beach. Anna was very excited about seeing Nemos that haven't been lost. John saw a black-tipped reef shark which he says was only 2 foot long, but I suspect could have been bigger. No need to put the children off going in the water.
The resort itself is a little careworn. The taps all drip, the white towels are clean, but stained. And there is no shampoo. And we didn't bring any. And they don't sell it in the shop. I had a massage (sore shoulder due to kayaking in rough seas) and it included a head massage. I didn't realise that he was massaging coconut oil into my hair. Fortunately we did manage to beg a small bottle off some departing guests so I was able to use a tiny amount of shampoo to try to cut through the three days of grease, salt and added coconut oil. My hair still looks like I've been wearing a hat and I can make it take on all sorts of styles, none of which are attractive.
John did come for 24 hours. Poor man had a big gash on his face due to an accident during the graduation ceremony when the person in front of him's mortarboard flew off in a gust of wind and hit him squarely beneath the eye. He had to give a televised talk this morning and he looks like he's been beaten up.
Saturday night the resort had a lovo, which is when they cook everything in a pit. It was a very strange meal. The chicken was good, but then there was a loaf of sea cucumber and coconut, sea grapes which are little stalks of seaweed with little bladders on them filled with seawater, a salad that appeared to be made of out of grass and a dessert that looked like it was the product of a heavy cold. It got to the point that I could not try another new dish, and I'm an adventurous eater. Since then the food has been delicious, particularly the homemade coconut buns at breakfast.
We're leaving tomorrow morning. We packed up the house before we left with Mela coming in today to finish up. However, I just got a text from John saying that we aren't moving into the new house until next week. It could be worse. Waiter, bring me another Fiji Gold!