Sunday, January 15, 2006

11 Seven days in Fiji - Another mystery trip

Another mystery trip

We drove along the shore road and into the sugar cane area paralleling the narrow gage railroad.

Between Nadi and Lautoka, the town just around the bend from Nadi, are a number of sights worth seeing. The mountains you see when you get off the airplane in Nadi are called "the Sleeping Giants," and they do look like a man and a woman sleeping on their backs. At the base of the "Sleeping Giants" is the Garden of the Sleeping Giant. This famous orchard garden, a combined commercial nursery and fantasy garden, was once owned by actor Raymond Burr (Perry Mason). It was closed on Saturday so I'll have to live with Aruind's description of it, which included every color known to exist in the English language.

Past the entrance to the Sleeping Garden are the Guns of Lomolomo. Fiji is just one stop beyond the last island Japan occupied during WWII and if not for the battle of the coral sea Fiji might well have been occupied. The Guns of Lomolomo, one gun actually, is a remnant of the need to protect the Nadi airport from marauding Japanese ships. The guns are actually remounted 6-inch British navel guns with a provenance that includes the Boer War and the relief of Mafeking during WW I. We would have had to climb up a steep hill and over private property to see them and neither Aruind nor I were feeling that energetic so we pressed on to Lautoka, Fiji's second largest city. Lautoka was built on sugarcane and all the narrow gage railways that wind up each of the valleys end at the massive sugar refinery almost at the end of the main dock.

The area where the city of Lautoka now stands was first sighted by Captain Bligh of HMS Bounty who rowed ashore with loyal crewmembers after the famous mutiny. Lautoka is also the landing spot where thousands of indentured Indians first came ashore to work the sugarcane fields and refinery. The sugar harvest had just ended and the yards were full of empty railcars.

Aruind and I sat on the seawall in Lautoka telling stories and speculating on what we could do to make our fortunes. I suggested importing a French Chief, or two, from Tahiti. Aruind gave me a curious look when I said that. Later, when I was at the airport, I ate a slice of pizza at an airport stand. To my surprise it was relatively good. Relative in that it was the best tasting food I had eaten all week. As I was enjoying myself I noticed two young women with backpacks in their early twenties looking very hungry. I knew what they were going through so I mentioned to them that the pizza was actually good. Both gave me a very sour look and one said, "Please, we are going to wait until we are in Los Angeles to eat. We've had the most disgusting food for the last two weeks here in Fiji."

Aruind said that he knew how he could make a fortune. All he needed was a container full of auto parts. I laughed and reminded him that in America I was not a rich man. "OK," he said, "then send me three sets of mag hubcaps, one set for my cab so that I can advertise and two to sell. We'll split the profits; we'll make a fortune."

I don’t know cars but I intend to send Aruind whatever I can find. If you would like to go into the auto-parts business with a hustling Indian entrepreneur in Fiji Aruind can be found at:

Aruind Keshwal
PO Box 9368
Nadi Airport
Fiji Islands

His phone number is 9951187

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