Published Oct 22, 2009

Coke is made with real sugar in both New Zealand and Fiji, which, if you know me well, you know is a big priority. But there are other good things about Fiji, too. Specifically: the relaxing. And: the activities related to relaxing. And then: the activities that burn off any excess energy so that I can get back to relaxing. 

The flip side of all this is that I’m not having much of that delicious sugar-sweetened Coke here, since, well, who needs caffeine to get in the way of that all-important relaxing? Oh, and I do apologize for the lateness of this entry, but blogging and photo editing was getting in the way of the relaxing. And, if you had the view from your veranda that I have from mine, you’d want to focus on the relaxing too.

We’re staying at the Lalati Resort on Beqa Island, which is at once right nearby Fiji’s “mainland,” with the capital and both(!) international airports; and at the same time remote. 

There are only three small villages on the island, and two resorts. As our boat zoomed us over choppy seas into the island, Lalati Resort slowly emerged from the thick jungle.

Our first day at Lalati was, to be honest, mostly sleep. Fortunately, like most all-inclusive1 resorts, sleep is easy. At Lalati, the choice sleep venues are: by the infinity pool, and in the hammock on your veranda. I used both extensively. Also, the hot stone massage at the spa.2

While I slept, Mrs. DJ L’il Bit took a boat ride out to a nearby reef and snorkeled. The next day, I joined in with some snorkeling from beachside, and got to see the amazing, dinner-plate-sized, bright blue starfishes, as well as all manner of striped, orange, blue, and yellow fish, many swimming in and out of anemones and living coral.The snorkel trip was actually a nice wind-down after our big hike up the mountain. Behind the resort rises the two highest peaks on the island — only a few hundred meters, but rocky, steep, and covered in Jungle. Mrs. DJ L’il Bit was ready to work our way up there:

Fortunately, we had a friendly guide, Sesa, to take us up there, explain the strange and wonderful plants and bugs3 we saw, and spin us yarns. Also, dare us to go back down by following the paths of what were basically waterfalls.

The next day was for rest. And hot tub. And testing the difference between the native Fiji Bitter and Fiji Gold beers.4 And testing the uniqueness of the native Bounty rum.5 We even learned to make Kokoda, the local, lime-and-coconut-marinated version of ceviche. I either got too much sun the day before or had a little tropical bug to recover from but, by the next morning, I was ready to go again. Good thing, because we had a big day — a sea kayak trip.

Now, neither of us had been in a kayak since our teens, and neither if us is quite… how might one say… coordinated, so there was much gnashing of teeth over who would flip the kayak and how many times we’d end up in the drink. But it looked too incredible so we went for it anyway. First we went up the cove to Bat Island, a promontory on which all of the many giant fruit bats that inhabit the area and who fly past our bure6 at night with a cacophony of squeaks. Then we paddled slowly down a quiet, serene, foot-and-a-half-deep channel that only appears at high tide and that divides Beqa in two. Finally we broke out into a little bay on the other side of island — and into a storm coming in. Waves broke over our prow, drenching Mrs. DJ L’il Bit in the front seat;7 when we tried to turn sideways to keep said waves from breaking in her face, they almost rolled us. But we fought off the wind and waves pushing us relentlessly inland to make it out of the bay and head along the coast of the island, watched over by resident divemaster and jack-of-all-trades Dick, while Sesa kept a motorboat nearby to pluck us out if we tired of our adventure. But Dick had our number. “It’s a long way to the resort, but the lighthouse is just around the point, let’s try for there!” “Around the next point, it’s a village!” “Now we’re more than halfway, we’re almost there!” Just when we were hot and getting tired, the sky finally opened up, soaking us with precious cool, non-salty water.8 Dick took us a little more offshore and the downpour turned into a refreshing drizzle, and we became only the third couple to make the whole trip around the island and back home in the last year and a half.

Later, the wind and the rain stayed on-island, so we stayed in the hot tub, and enjoyed the delicious, generous meals that Lalati cooks on-site. From fish tacos to freshly-caught clam chowder to tuna steaks to lamb to steak to curries, the food here is very, very good and even smacks a little of authenticity, from time to time. Meals are all communal, so we hear the day’s stories from the other dozen or so guests at Lalati; always great, since someone’s done a cultural excursion and someone else is here on a dive package and swam with sharks.9

Today, the wind kept us in again. (That’s why I had time to process the photos and write this!) But we both got wonderful, relaxing massages, soothing our hard-worked muscles from yesterday, and we enjoyed the hammock and the native rum to great fullness. Tonight is a big buffet of native foods baked in hot rocks buried in a dirt pit, and tomorrow… well, the weather’s better tonight, and if it holds tomorrow, it will be a truly exquisite event. Since the day after we fly home, probably no updates until then; but, oh, the stories we’ll have!

1 Except booze, that is.

2 They put hot stones between my toes! Ahhh, relaxation.

3 Like four-inch-long centipedes.

4 Bitter is better.

5 Delicious, light, and many fruity and floral notes, even in the dark rum. Not the stuff of the same name from St. Lucia. Can’t even find a link to Fiji’s Bounty, but might take some home!

6 That is, hut. Except bigger. Like this:

Also: roll the “r” when you say it.

7 Don’t worry, I got plenty wet too. While only some of the waves broke over her —
granted, with very much water, but only some — every stroke of her upwind paddle brought me a faceful of whatever water was left in there.

8 The sea is not cool and refreshing here; it’s warm and comfortable. Usually good, but we were

9 Apparently they bring a whole trash can of chum down with them and use it all. The price you pay for scenery!