A trip to Nadi township today left me lighter in the pocket, but in good spirits.
A novice tourist such as myself has no show against these smooth operators.
I’d been in the township less than 5 minutes before a friendly character lurking in a shop doorway greeted me with “Bula” and a wide Fijian smile.
He asked what I now realise are the standard questions to size up my spending power – “where you from”,”how long you been here”,”how long you staying”,”where are you staying”.
And I was invited in for a cup of kava. The sun was nowhere near the yard-arm, but a refusal would have been rude, so….
I sat on a mat near the back of the shop opposite a guy who mumbled a quick prayer, clapped his hands three times, and told me to down the small cup in one.
I used to be a high-achiever in such behaviour, so this bit was easy. And a better taste than the kava I’d bought in years gone by at an Indian dairy at home.
THE SALES PITCH
And then it came, after I made the mistake of admiring out loud the beautiful hand-made Fijian clubs on display. These things are works of art. And useful for cannibals too, noted my guide with a straight face.
Amid talk of a souvenir of my Fiji visit there were several mentions of “supporting the local indigenous community”.
So after a lot of hemming and hawing and choosing this and that, I came away with a small knife / club similar to a Maori mere. But wooden.
So there’s that bit of gift shopping done.
Next the original lurker insisted on escorting me up the road to the local travel shop, where I got some advice and brochures and such from the budget travel agent. Which to be fair, possibly saved me a hundred dollars at least versus booking these things online.
Once I got out of there, the midday heat ( it’s 27 ° C at 7.30 pm ) reminded me that I’d made another young player’s mistake in not bringing light shirts.
After walking in and out of five shops, I found the silk shirt at left. It was marked for $69, I think.
Then the conversation went something like this. Me: “Too much.” Her: “Discount, sir”. Me: “How much?” Her: $42. Me:”Too much”. Him:”What is your budget?”.Me:”These were $25 down the road” ( true ). Her:” You can have any of these for $25″. Me:”Ok, er, which one do you think is the best color for me”…..
Apart from the jandals, that completes the Fijian uniform.
After that it was into the Indian eatery which had been recommended by the lurker, where I spent $16 FJD on curried lamb & roti.
The taxi back ( maybe 5km down Queen’s highway ) was about the same as the outward trip, $9 FJD. That’s compared with $35 FJD on the last trip, of roughly the same distance, when I “negotiated” a price with “how much to Wailoaloa?”.
But not before spotting these mammoth coconuts on the side of the road. The same kind I gorged myself on in Vietnam.
Once home, an hour or so of air-conditioning myself, and some coconut juice, and I was again a functioning unit.