Road Trip – Fiji Style!

This is the third post of the series Livin’ in Fiji – A House Sitters Story.

It was time. We’d just about exhausted how far we could travel only with the power of our two legs. Of course there were taxi’s, but where’s the adventure in that? It was time to rent a car!

As we’re mentioned once of twice before, Savusavu Town on the island of Vanua Levu is not a huge place. At the far end of town there’s a fenced-in field and within that field sits the Budget Rent-A-Car trailer. By the way, they rent boat motors (no boats) and sell tires as well. Cheryl made the car reservation on-line because every time we tried to stop in, no one was there. We were a little apprehensive that would be the case when we walked in on Wednesday at the appointed time for pick-up, but were pleasantly surprised to be helped right away. Thirty minutes and reams of dot matrix paper later (yes, they still make those!) we took the keys to a cute 4WD Jimmie. I should say Cheryl took the keys after I mistakenly climbed into the driver’s seat – forgot all about the whole wonky steering wheel thing here – it’s on the passenger side. 😉 And the car is manual transmission, so shifting with the left hand is like learning a new dance step. Rental fees for the car and insurance were reasonable, it was the gas that was expensive. Around $3 a liter and our little Jimmie had a 40 liter tank!

Cheryl did an amazing job. Driving on the left side of the road, dodging potholes as big as the Jimmie, and trying not to hit kamikaze dogs that darted out was tough, but we were FREE! Or as free as you can be on a small island. Thankfully there are really only 2 major roads and one of those runs out pretty quickly to  a bumpy, muddy construction pit. Though the roadside scenery was too cute not to stop and take a quick picture!

Day one we hit the Hibiscus Highway to some of the most beautiful views we’ve seen on the island so far. Exclusive resorts like Koro Sun and Namale dot the roadway alongside smouldering copra sheds near homes with no windows or doors, but full of smiling faces.


At MM 17.2, a delightful seaside beach bar appeared. Unmanned, but adorned with beautiful fresh flowers. Water so blue you can’t believe it’s real.

 

All along our drive there were shouts of Bula! (Hello) from everyone as we passed – even men with machetes cutting down huge sugar cane stalks. We passed many tiny villages with crops like taro being harvested and women walking with huge buckets on their heads!

  

Day two took us inland in the direction of the other major town on the island called Labasa. The coastal environment quickly cooled and the vegetation thickened to a ferny rainforest. Gradually, pine forests appeared and wildflower meadows stretched out so far we had to just stop the engine and listen to the silence. This time we passed villages named Jerusalemi, Nabalebale, and Lomaloma – all going about their business with smiles in Fiji Time. We barely saw another car the entire day.

We also used our “car days” to see more of the island. A tour of Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort for our travel blog, pictures of areas we’d like to explore in greater depth – a rainforest park and fabulous snorkeling sites. This was a wonderful way to see things from a different vantage point. It’s easy to take for granted always traveling everywhere by car, so having one for only a few days was a special treat. So we’re back on our own foot power again, but with a greater appreciation for the beauty of what’s out there around this island we’re calling home for the next few weeks!

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