Sigatoka River Safari: Cultural Connections in Fiji

With luscious rainforests, turquoise waters, an abundance of accommodation options, Fijian Villageand adventures for days, Fiji is an ideal tourist destination. But I can find those exact things in other parts of the world and avoid the long flight and costs. So what is the draw to Fiji? Why is it on everyone’s bucket list? Rich with history and culture, Fiji offers something more and I experienced it first hand today.  During the Sigatoka River Safari, we cruised up the magnificent Sigatoka River to visit an authentic Fijian village and experience a day in the life of the real Fijian. Our driver brought us on a journey to life, the way it is experienced in the village away from cell phones, computers, and “traffic” and I discovered that I would travel around the world a dozen times over to spend a day with the Fijian people.

We arrived at the village and were given a sulu to wear. The sulu, which is similar to the sarong, is the traditional clothing in Fiji. Though Fijians are quite relaxed, it is important to show respect toward their traditions and culture. Women generally dress modestly and cover their legs so Sigatoka River Safari gave a sulu for each woman on the safari. I wasn’t sure how to wrap it appropriately, but our guide provided instructions. With my sulu on as a cover for my shorts, I was ready to explore the village. Sigatoka River Safari At first, I was shocked at the conditions in the village. I thought about how unhappy I would be to live with so little. The houses were small and almost empty. Fiji Village Then, I saw children playing. They had a few marbles and they were flicking them with their fingers playing a game. Every child had a smile on his or her face. They were outside and active without being glued to a TV screen or a worrying about internet access. Children in Fiji They were friendly and welcoming and proud of their village.

What an innocent way to view life.

Fijian Village

I started to wonder if they were better off; richer for their connections to the land rather than the couch.

One particular little girl, Mary, took a liking to me and we shared several moments togetherFijian Village during a Kava Ceremony (I’ll explain more about the Kava Ceremony in another post soon). We made up a hand clapping game where we added more and more steps until one of us forgot what came next. We both found complete happiness in the simplest game and the afternoon flew by in a blink.

Quickly, I could see how the simplicity of it all was one of the biggest draws to Fiji. Interacting with the villagers reminded me that the people of Fiji are what make it special. Children are being taught values and respect and they are growing up with those cultural connections. Smiling, generous, and relaxed, Fijians greet you and everyone they meet with their famous and welcoming ‘Bula’. They are not afraid to where their heart on their sleeve and love one another.

Sigatoka River Safari

Mary, and all of the village children, followed us as we prepared to leave the village. She hugged me and blew kisses while I boarded the boat. I mirrored her caring demeanor and felt loved. No one judged or questions our motives; they just were, and everyone was happy with that.

Beauty surrounds us around the world but it is only skin deep. It is the local people who make a destination a home. I’ll visit Fiji again because I now have family here in a little village on the Sigatoka River.

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45 thoughts on “Sigatoka River Safari: Cultural Connections in Fiji

  1. It seems like children are the same all over the world. It always amazes me how people that live in a region have a certain look. I have never seen people form Fiji. They are really beautiful. :)

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  2. I can’t disagree that the Fijians’ connection to their land is certainly a good thing, but moreover your post has shown that they have a connection to others that is rich. But, then, it seems like you do, too – just look how happy those kids are to be showing you around. Awesome.

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  3. THIS is what travel should be like. Meeting local people! If you stick with hotels and pre-packaged tours with people from your own country, then in my opinion you’ve never “really” left home.

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  4. LC… “I started to wonder if they were better off; richer for their connections to the land rather than the couch.” Since retiring to the Philippines and living on the exteme northern tip, almost remote northern province of Cebu, Daan Bantayan, I too am learning what you have experienced in Fiji. Not the same degree of simplicity, but compared to even growing up in a poor family in NYC, USA, life is simplier here. We have started what I dub, our People’s Victory Garden just across the walkway from our rental unit. My wife fussed only once about the hours I spend, hand weeding and such. My response; “What else am I going to do, watch repetitious HBO, or spend more hours on my escape media, computer!” Veggies are expensive here, not fruits which grow everywhere. Since joining WP, starting the garden, like you, my life is expanding in more fields of social joy.

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  5. Sometimes, I wish it was possible to give that simplicity to our kids. I must admit I’m trying, but society has a way of imprinted despite mom’s efforts. Hopefully, as they grow up they’ll get a better understanding of how important the human, nature connection is, and that material things just get in the way of that. What a great adventure. Beautiful pics!

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  6. I loved reading this post – it reminded me of the remote villages I visited in Mali. The conditions were similar, but the people were so happy! I spent hours with those kids – they taught me so much and made me feel so special. It’s a wonderful thing to find that that sort of joy and warm, welcoming spirit exists in the world.

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  7. Pingback: Sigatoka River Safari: Cultural Connections in Fiji « johndwmacdonald

  8. Such beautiful children. And I love the fabrics in their clothes. Such bright lovely colors and designs. My daughter discovered the same thing about the people of Ghana a few years ago. They were warm and welcoming and it was worth the journey to meet them.

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  9. I love your observations about the simplicity of life there, especially about how the children play with marbles instead of watching tv… my husband and I live in Ecuador and one of the draws for us was a simpler life. although it is changing (more technology, more paved roads, more rich people, etc) we still see it as simpler and for that we love it.

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  10. I got this same experience in Mexico and South Korea. It’s great. They are in places all over the world if you have enough sincerity and respect to experience it. I hope you get many more in lots of other country’s too. I plan to. Isn’t time a great hing to have when traveling!

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  11. Pingback: Free Tickets to Fiji | Festival Travel and Adventure

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