I rarely travel far distances from my home, but when I do I enjoy learning about the culture of the place I am visiting. In the case of Fiji, cultural experiences were all around us.
I didn’t get an opportunity to do any fact checking here, but the word of mouth story about the history of Tavarua is as follows. Chief Druku is the reigning Chief of Nabila. His grandfather, who was the Chief a long time ago, delivered some missionaries to the neighboring island of Malolo (not sure of the spelling of that one). The people of Malolo mistook the delivery of the missionaries as an attack and a battle ensued. Chief Druku’s grandfather was injured. He took to the ocean and proceeded to swim to Tavarua, where he died. I know that most of my readers will not know the distance between Malolo and Tavarua, and I don’t know it either, but I will tell you that it is super FAR to swim. Like 3 or 4 miles or more. When the villagers at Malolo learned that they had made a mistake and Chief Druku’s grandfather had died at their hands, the chief at the village in Malolo gave the island of Tavarua, it’s fishing grounds and surf spots to the Village of Nabila as an apology.
On our second day at Tavarua, my daughter and I went to church in Nabila. It’s a beautiful little village, and the people there are very grateful for the surf camp at Tavarua.
To get to church, Emosi took us by boat from Tavarua to the main island where we walked over the reef in the shallow water, into some mangroves, and through a little tree tunnel into the village of Nabila. The people in Nabila were so friendly and warm. We were welcomed into the home of the minister where we sat for a few minutes and answered questions about our lives in California. We had an opportunity to see that even though these people lived very simple lives, they were amazingly happy and full of the most fun-loving spirit I have seen in a long time. Families there are complex, with webs of brothers and sisters and cousins, all taking care of each other and each other’s children. The homes were simple with very little in the way of furnishings, but very neat and well-kept. We sat on a woven mat made of palm fronds to talk to the minister’s family. At 10:30am the minister got up and rang a bell on his porch, signifying that it was time for the people in the village to go to church.
The blue building in the picture below is the church, which was built with help from Tavarua. Inside the church, pews lined the walls facing a podium in front where the minister stood and read from the Bible in Fijian. We followed along to the best of our ability, with our neighbors pointing here and there every once in a while to help keep us on track. I also was given an English version for translating, but it was very easy to fall behind. I think the singing was the most beautiful part of the service. The Fijian men and women are big people. They stood towering in the front of the church singing loudly, with no musical accompaniment. Their voices were beautiful and they carried throughout the concrete buildings in the village.
After the service we were invited back to the minister’s house for orange soda and coconut cookies. Emosi picked us up there and walked us back through the village, into the tree tunnel, over the reef and back to our waiting boat for the ride back to Tavarua.