Eat, Drink and Be Merry

A regular student remarked recently how resilient I was to travel to parts lesser known. I smiled and said ‘thanks’.

He was wrong.

Comfort has gotten the better part of valour, and I’ve escaped the “hardships” of inland Nadi to more habitable parts. At least for a couple of days’ trial.

The downsides of inland Nadi are

  • the lack of air-conditioning, the biggest problem, although mostly only at nights. But a few nights of little sleep, and murderous black clouds are hovering overhead.
  • the crawling internet speeds. Almost Ok for watching youtube. But not good enough to earn even a meagre crust online video teaching, where I’m at the mercy of unforgiving Japanese students.
  • the environs. There’s nowhere to stroll without fear of being mown down by Mad Max trucks.
  • the difficulty of getting anywhere fast.

All of this dawned on me when the student kindly wished I was enjoying my “holiday”. Hah!

American physicist Richard Feynman said “… you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.”

And I got to thinking why I’m here. Not to explore the hinterland, or in the cause of anthropology. Not on a hunt for rare butterflies, or to sip pink cocktails poolside, or for geological surveys. Not at all.

Intermittent doses of physical stress are fine, but prolonged mental stress will have me nearing 80 shortly.

I’m here to sit out the winter, do some work and some swimming, meet some locals, see some sights, and soak up some vitamin D and local food.

Which is all by way of justifying a weekend in Martintar on the main Nadi thoroughfare. It’s got

  • air-conditioning
  • decent internet
  • proximity to the Beach. Today it took me $5 FJD and ‘only’ 90 minutes to travel to the beach and back, go for a swim, and catch up the staff at the Ideal Bed & Breakfast, my last lodgings.
  • shops etc within quick walking distance

I’ve booked a weekend, but I may well extend it. I’ll fret about the budget later.

As the infamous Donald Kessel ( classmate 1974 – 1976, now inventor ) said “eat, drink, and be merry, and tomorrow we starve”.

UPDATE: The place has worked out better than expected! It even has internet speeds passable enough to teach some Japanese students. BUT I’ve just found out I can’t extend my stay because someone had already booked it.


Yesterday it was sota tale to the busy-ness and beach of Wailoaloa, and bula to the peaceful rural setting of inland Nadi.

The Ideal Bed & Breakfast – home for the past three weeks – is memorable mainly for some spectacular people.

Myself and Noke, master omelette cook and DJ at the Ideal B & B Wailoaloa
I was given the honor of planting a lime tree outside the unit where I stayed

A Moveable Feast

The staff are all wonderful, but some of the guests are pretty special as well. I met many of them only briefly, because most stay only a night or two as a gateway to Fiji and yonder. Many had been to more than 50 countries.

A handful of Americans worked for an airline, and traveled on the cheap, always stand-by, basically wherever took their fancy. One bronzed middle-aged Californian was following the women’s football world cup. With stopovers in Fiji.

A young Italian chef had motorcycled through many parts of the world. Including to the Northernmost part of Europe , packing all his food back in Italy. He’d let Google track him over the years, resulting in the dot-infested global map he showed me.

A NZer – probably in his mid-30s and originally from Denmark – had retired, and now lives in Thailand.

A retired American couple had been all over the globe, and are still doing it on ‘social security’. They were easily identified by day-glo yellow / green “trash-busters” t-shirts. They were remnants of the best of the 60s – he’d stumbled across Woodstock during wanderings from Minnesota.

The younger crowd mostly stayed only a night or two, and then went island-hoping or diving or somesuch. They included a Sri Lankan woman working online, and here in Fiji indefinitely, a Czech guy who left after renting a car to live in, and a young Ukranian woman working and studying in London.

Ends and Means

Yeah, many of these people are much wealthier than the likes of me, and most likely you.

But at least some of them have been able to roam by either gearing their lifestyle that way, or by doing it on the smell of an oily rag. Or by the seat of their pants. Or both.

I’m a total novice at this game, but it’s shown me what’s possible.

Mr .Bojangles

Was the jibe of an old friend living in the Presbyterian south of New Zealand when I told him I’d been wandering around barefoot in shorts and singlet.

Some Faraway Beach

You’ll have noticed that there is less action here than in your average monastery.

That’s because I had to return to the Land of the ( wet ) Moa early in July. On July 29, I returned to Fiji, this time to Wailoaloa beach. Think of it as Denarau for the unheeled.

Since then, I’ve regressed to a shameless and barefoot lack of work. A daily ocean swim, a little online teaching, much more talk than usual, and a lot of good food has been the order of the days.

The major entertainment has been the local wildlife – the staff and guests at the B & B I’m staying in.

The 8 or 9 rooms have housed guests from Algeria, Czechoslavakia, the Ukraine, Togo, the UK, Sri Lanka, Egypt, and of course Aussie and NZ. The guy from Togo , for example, works for the United Nations managing disaster areas, and is now kicking around the South Pacific organising cyclone backup systems. Or something.

The staff at the BnB ( “The Ideal Bed & Breakfast” ) are all Fijian, and nearly all effortlessly laid-back and as funny as a fight. They laugh a lot.

Wame is the Main Man. He’s served in the army, and been part of the Presidential guard. There’s steel, and smarts, under the big smile and the endless jokes. Napoleon, the cook, has taken to calling meĀ  ‘the Young Man’. He’s worked in hospitality on the tourist islands, and it shows in his true Fijian-style cuisine. Knox, cook and general hand, has a sly wolfish grin. He found himself stranded on an island during covid, and survived hunting the wildlife and growing crops. Tuvili is endlessly kind and patient, and also ready with a joke – “get behind, Satan” when offered a rum.

I accidentally became a kind of minor celebrity by booking the longest stay ( 21 days ) in the BnB’s two-month history.

It is literally a “bed and breakfast”, and my attempt to stockpile food without a fridge hasn’t really worked. I’ll explore the local cafes a bit before I leave.

I have four days left here, before I start acting my budget, and return to the Nadi Back Road, about 5 km inland.


One of the challenges of Fiji in my short time here has been internet speeds. Only one of the three places I’ve stayed in so far had anything like decent WiFi, and that was the Namaka BnB in May.

Hot-spotting my phone using a local data connection has been the best option.

But here in Wailoaloa, I’ve discovered over the last 2 or 3 days that the cafes and restaurants get good speeds. No good for online teaching, which demands privacy, but better than the dial-up-like speeds otherwise on offer.


There are packs of stray beach dogs here, and these are no problem. But because this is a tourist hub – maybe two dozen local hostels / hotels / apartments – there are few dogs which are locked up. And of course, that means the nights are mostly a bark-free zone.

Righto. Lunch time.