Fun. blared over the restaurant stereo. Motivated surfers paddled out to the reef break to catch morning waves. Other backpackers yawned over their morning coffee, hiding their hangovers behind their sunglasses. As for me, I was on a mission. I’d finally said goodbye to my Fijian family and made my way down the Coral Coast. I READ MORE
The boat engine revved, pushing us with great difficulty over the waves and choppy current. D’Tui sat in Ro Mereani’s lap. Sala and I squealed, huddled together on the floor as we hit each wave with a loud thwack. Water poured over the metal siding, filling the bottom of the boat with a thin layer
Sala offered to take me down to the village pig pens. I happily obliged, loving any chance to play with animals. “Each family has a pen,” she explained as we greeted the oinkers. “The pens are on stilts so they don’t get wet at high-tide.”
Mereani looked up from her paper as I walked through the front door. “Well? How did it go?” I plopped down on the couch. “I’m not quite sure,” I said hesitantly. She handed me a cup of coffee. “Tell me about it.” I sighed, thinking back to the morning’s events.
We walked into the elders’ house. I was sweating. Like everywhere. The men were already gathered around the the tanoa, discussing news from the main island. The bundle of waka roots felt heavy in my hands. I knew it had more to do with its symbolic weight than its actual consistency (after all, it was
D’Tui and her village friends wasted no time paddling out in the water on a handmade raft. They giggled and squealed and splashed water on each other. The village goat brayed pleadingly, wanting them to come back and play. He circled the bush he was tied to in frustration.
Ro Mereani paid the cab driver. I stepped out of the vehicle and stretched. It took longer than expected to get to the village of Vanua— the port for all the boats leaving to Beqa— but we had finally arrived. We were one step closer to our destination, to the home of Talei’s people, and her final