Last November I had one of the most amazing and enlightening cultural experiences of my life. While on a dive trip to Fiji, I was able to visit a remote Fijian village on the island of Qamea.
Qamea is a small island (8 miles/12 km long) with lush green hills, beautiful sandy beaches and turquoise waters teeming with sea life. It has just six villages, and we visited the village of Togo.
As our boat neared the village, we were greeted by a group of excited children – all with large grins and eager faces.
Upon encountering a Fijian village, one must first meet with the chief to obtain his permission to enter. It is customary to present the chief with a gift of… you guessed it – Kava.
After meeting the chief and presenting the kava, we were free to walk around (with our Fijian guide), meet the villagers and observe their day to day life.
The kids were particularly enthusiastic about our visit. It was no longer than five minutes into our visit, when they ran to grab our hands to usher us around. I was struck by their innate happiness, their pride in their surroundings, their beauty and their grace and good manners. They asked for nothing, except companionship and new friends.
The village has a primary school, which we visited as part of our tour.
After we made the rounds, we were invited into our guide’s house for Fijian snacks, lemongrass tea, dancing, and of course, kava.
We watched and clapped along as the women performed part of the village Meke or history, as told through song and dance.
The kids were eager to take part in the festivities, although some had to get over their initial shyness.
I’m a diver, snorkeler, water lover and ocean girl at heart. And while this was primarily a dive trip, I’m grateful that I gave up a day in the clear Fijian waters to meet these amazing people, share a meal and learn about their culture. It’s a day that I will never forget.
In my next post, I’ll show you around the village school. You will get the full tour like we did!