Continuing the catch up of recent events today's post is about Alice's school camp at Abaca (which is pronounced Ambatha). But first, not that we should joke about coup's today of all days, here is the cartoon from yesterdays Fiji Sun Newspaper yes that's right- more Diwali jokes. You can't beat the Fijian sense of humour.
Anyway so Alice had her year five camp, up at Abaca village in the Koroyanitu National Park. This amazing place is about 30 minutes up in the mountains behind Lautoka. You drive off past Kavatubu (a suburb/village/cemetery/police post) in Lautoka, then up windy gravel roads including 3 fords. The class went up in a 4wd bus operated by Tourism Transport Fiji, accompanied by one of tourism transport's 4wd Prados and our little Hyundai Tuscan stuffed to the brim with mats, food, toilet paper etc etc with Hannah our Gap student and myself. We pulled into Abaca village and had to firstly go and present some Kava. Of course we had to wear sulus- oops! Luckily as usual I had one in the car from the boat trip out in the morning (yes you may be surprised to learn I do try to dress modestly), and we managed to find a shorter one which Hannah borrowed.
Abaca was in the old times a large village of more than 200 people. Then one Sunday in 1931 a huge landslide came down, and buried the entire village. Only 3 brothers survived. They restarted the village across the road on the hillside, and it now has around 80 members. There are no cars in this village, but they do have horses.
The kids got to see the preparation for mat making, and also had to walk down the hill to the village and help weed the cassava patch. Good stuff I say. They also did team building games. Thats Alice on the right...
The lodge was further up the hill from the village, with two bunkrooms coming off a main room. No power and no hot water was a novelty for the kids, with our cooking by gas and lighting via kerosene lamps. The adults slept in the main room. Infact it was Hannah's first time in a sleeping bag. As the teachers were handing out reward cards throughout the trip Hannah of course received one for being open to new experiences!
The scenery up there was stunning, and with lots of ferns and tree ferns; even looked almost like NZ (except the banana trees which told me I definitely was not in the Catlins). Dot commented on the similarity to the Waitakeres too. We spent most afternoons at the river, where there was a swimming hole. It was just beautiful- but as you look at these pictures remember it was 30c or more... Actually there was even a tree a bit like the Rata or Pohutukawa, but pink??
(sorry about the big leaf in the front, I was hanging off the path to catch the pink flowers).
That's the "Ben Bomb"!
The kids loved washing up- at last they knew why they had to bring a bucket each. They filled their buckets and happily washed and rinsed, finishing with Aseri (the teacher) rinsing them off with the hose! One girl came back twice. When Aseri asked her why she said "my mum told me always to use conditioner"...
I tag teamed with Dot, and left early on the last morning to get back to the island and finish some photos I had taken to send back to NZ the next morning (as it turned out I was up all night- but that's a story for another time). Bola (Alipate Bola, back here on the island) told me that the Abaca people are part of the Vuda tribe, indeed related to some of the Nakelo (who own the islands we live on- I guess the three brothers had to go somewhere to get wives). The three brothers had survived he said, because they were partying on a Sunday. He said "Marama you will find out- there are many stories in Fiji"...
(Camp photos all taken with my new lens...nikkor 18-200VR a pretty versatile lens for school camp purposes, and a big thank you to Digna for bringing it over for me. I only had one memory card, so all were shot in jpegs.).