Fiji – Abaca

A small village in the highlands above Lautoka, a bit east of Nadi.

We spent Monday morning on a tour up into the hills above Nadi and Lautoka, to see a small village called Abaca.  In Fijian, ‘b’ is pronounced ‘mb’, ‘d’ is pronounced ‘nd’, and ‘c’ is pronounced ‘th’.  Thus we left Nandi to visit Ambatha. Read on!

our guide (left) leads us through the kava ceremony. (Abaca village, Near Lautoka, Fiji.)

It was a partly cloudy day, but the sun was shining enough to highlight the grassy hillsides.  This is the ‘dry’ side of the island, so it doesn’t support dense forests; and this is the dry season, so the grasses are largely dry… lending the hills a variety of hues spanning from yellow to brown to shades of green. Beautiful.

the hills are beautiful — dry grasses add browns and yellows. (Near Lautoka, Fiji.)

Upon reaching the village we were greeted by villagers in the traditional kava ceremony.  Kava is a drink made by mixing dry powdered root of the yagona plant, with water.  Our guide brought a gift (sevusevu) of kava powder to the village, and the villagers made kava for us to drink.  The guide spoke first (in Fijian), honoring and respecting the village; then the villagers spoke (in Fijian) welcoming us.  Each of them had a kava drink, then me and then Pam.  To do it right, you clap once, drink the whole of the offered coconut shell of kava, then clap three times.   It felt a bit strange, since I think these folks do this 10 times a day as various tours come through.  But it was a good introduction for us to see this important tradition.

kava is the traditional drink used to welcome visitors to the village. (Abaca village, Near Lautoka, Fiji.)

We toured the village – very basic, a village of farmers with simple houses made of bamboo or corrugated metal.  Then we hiked through the forest up to the grassland, to see some waterfalls and to see some of the views back to the coast. Our guide also introduced us to many of the local flowers and roots like turmeric and ginger. 

Family photo at a nice viewpoint in the hills above Nadi, in the village of Abaca, Fiji.

Next stop: Lautoka hospital, for a nostalgic thank-you visit.  More on that later. Meanwhile, check out the Abaca photo gallery!

This post was transferred from MobileMe to WordPress in 2021, with an effort to retain the content as close to the original as possible; I recognize that some comments may now seem dated or some links may now be broken.

Author: dfkotz

David Kotz is an outdoor enthusiast, traveller, husband, and father of three. He is also a Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.

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