“If you hunt wild pig, you should be a good runner,” Bobo advised as we drove back from Nadi to Lautoka early this afternoon. That was just one bit of Bobo’s wisdom. It was an interesting day.
Today, we opted to wander independently in the northwestern part of Viti Levu, Fiji’s largest island where we are anchored today. After leaving Hawaii we went to isolated and seemingly forgotten Fanning Island, then to American Samoa, a step up on the development timeline, and now to Fiji, which was far further along on that scale than we might have anticipated. It was a striking mix of modern and traditional. Of first world and third. Gloria Jean’s Coffee shops, McDonalds, and a very upscale Pacific Patisserie, were juxtaposed against Fat Chicken and Bula Bargains Limited. I will say, that this part of Fiji was jumping.
We hiked for a while around Lautoka — a couple of miles at least — and were greeted regularly by passersby with the salutation “Bula,” an all purpose form of hello. Bobo told us later that people would be ashamed not to offer such a common courtesy. It was rather nice…reminded me a bit of the deeply courtesy Tswana people we came to know in Botswana.
After pausing to get some cold water and warm veg samosas we negotiated a fare with a a cab driver, Bobo, who promised air conditioning and to put our safety first. Off we went to visit Sri Siva Subramaniya temple, the largest Shiva Temple in the Southern Hemisphere we were told ,and then to do a bit of exploring in Nadi, the town built up around the international airport on the island.
It was fun to explore. To see the Sleeping Giant laying across the mountainous inland ridges.
To gaze out to sea at the islands where Survivor has been filming. To wander the vegetable markets, sample kava which numbed our tongues and lips,
and to enjoy being part of the local experience and to chat with Bobo who was a really nice guy.
Bobo was an ethnic Fijian who, I would guess, is in his mid-thirties. He was one of 14 kids in a family that lived in the mountains that dominate the island’s center. He talked about growing up in those hills. Arising before dawn to hunt wild pigs on horseback, with the dogs of the village and armed with spears. That is where he cautioned that if you were unhorsed for any reason you should be a very fast runner…and a very good climber….because the pigs are mean.
He enthusiastically confirmed just how delicious the meat of the wild pig was. We talked about differences between Fijians and Tongans. We talked about how as a youth he would always try to read the papers but that his children (he had five, four girls and a boy) did not, because today everyone has their phone or tablets.
He talked about his hopes for his children…the two eldest girls want to be doctors and another of the girls wants to be a pilot. We talked about governance. He bemoaned corruption and the abuse of power in his own government and said people in Fiji — at least those in his orbit — could not understand Donald Trump’s America.
He told us about the ways the Chinese have expanded their influence in Fiji, taking advantage of the decision of Australia and New Zealand, following the coup in 2006 to suspend aid until democracy was restored.
It was clear that Bobo has given thought to the world around him and how it is changing. So have we. That is what this cruise has been about. Lecturing about a world in transition but, beyond that, it has also been a time for personal reflection about how I engage my own changing world. It’s a process that continues.
I’m glad we met Bobo. I learned from him. Maybe he learned from me. He’s part of my journey.
And remember, if you hunt wild pigs please be ready to run.