Highlights of the trip:
Being greeted at the airport by our drivers, and our first night staying in Lautoka with Litea and her family – she went above and beyond to welcome us to Fiji and ensure that we felt comfortable in her home. She took us shopping and to church on Sunday before serving us lunch and making sure we made it to Port Denarau in time for the ferry.
Getting to experience daily life and culture on the island – our hosts were extremely accommodating and attentive to our needs, and the kids were great tour guides for our afternoons after school. By the end of the week, it already felt like I was becoming a member of my host family.
It was interesting to see how developed the school was despite being in such a remote location – the classrooms were well built and the teachers were very professional and knowledgeable.
The kids, although a little rowdy, were eager to learn and share with us. It was a pleasure and an honour to have the opportunity to teach Class 1 for a couple of mornings, as well as some sessions with Class 2 and 5.
Comments on the team, food and accommodation:
Masi made sure our transport and accommodations at arrival in Fiji were all taken care of – even though he was in Suva, he made sure to phone in and check on us, and explain the arrangements for our transport to Yanuya – this was much appreciated. His son was also very helpful in arranging for our water and kava root to be bought and delivered to the ferry terminal.
Litea and her family were amazing hosts for our first night in Fiji – her home was very comfortable, the food was delicious, and we enjoyed interacting with her daughter and grandchildren.
The transport to and from Yanuya was well organised. We appreciated the efforts made to pick up and drop us off in the longboat from the ferry across to the island.
The headmaster and teachers at the school were very welcoming, and helpful with any questions we may have had during our stay. I appreciated the efforts they made to include us in their classes on the first day / orientation.
My host family were a joy and pleasure to stay with. They were very welcoming to both myself and my travel companions.
The room prepared for my stay was large, clean and comfortable. I was surprised to find that there was electricity / wired lighting provided in the room, and I could have my bedroom light on as late as I wished.
My host mother, Oni, went to great efforts to prepare all meals from scratch, including rising early to prepare fresh bread rolls for my breakfast on several mornings. She was also accommodating of my dietary requirements, making sure not to include any foods I was sensitive to, and making a special trip to the markets to get pineapple when she found out it was my favourite.
When I fell ill on the Thursday night, she was also very attentive to my needs, and prepared only the foods I requested for the remainder of my stay.
I did not see her husband very often whilst I was on the island, but appreciated him meeting us at Port Denarau on our return from Yanuya, and arranging transport for us to the resort.
Any improvements to help us be better:
A cultural orientation would be appreciated – we were served a large amount of food by our host families and encouraged repetitively to eat more at every meal. We were unsure if this request could be denied without causing offence, and if the excessive amounts of food would go to waste if not eaten, and subsequently ended up making ourselves ill.
We were also advised (before leaving Australia) that we should purchase snacks / fruit before going to the island, as there would be no shops on the island. We brought food from Australia, and also purchased fruit at the markets in Lautoka – it was not required – our hosts provided more than enough during our stay. Personally I found it embarrassing to have fruit going rotten because it was laid aside and forgotten, as a result of us being so well fed by our hosts.
The only positive being that we were able to make gifts of our snack foods to our host families at the end of our stay – they appreciated the chips and chocolates.
Overall I found it ok to be hosted individually, however did find it daunting at first, especially given that I was expecting to be hosted in pairs. I believe I would have adjusted more quickly had I arrived knowing / expecting to be hosted individually. I personally would prefer being able to stay in group accommodation such as during our trip to Cambodia last year.
Thankyou to yourself and any others involved in our Fiji experience,