Day 1,862 of Traveling the World | Lautoka, Viti Levu, Fiji | March 9, 2023

We were bullied today!!! Oops – we mean, BULA’d!! “Bula!” is the hearty greeting that most strangers we passed on the street said to us. It literally means Good, but is casually used as Hi! If you ask how someone is doing, they will repond, Bula bula, meaning Good, good. Even though the city is fairly large – certainly not a village or town – being greeted the entire time we walked Lautoka made it feel like a community where everyone knows everyone else. Very sweet, in fact.

We were here four years ago and wrote a blog then about the history of Fiji, and Captain Bligh’s sighting of the island, etc. So we won’t repeat that. The major industry in Fiji is sugar cane, and Lautoka is the base. Here in Lautoka can be found the industries, headquarters, the largest sugar mill, modern loading facilities, and a huge wharf. We visited some local shops and a supermarket (as they always give a good representation of the culture – what the local people eat and buy). We were asked for money a few times, but we never did get local Fijian currency, just paid with a credit card for everything we purchased. We told one man – sorry, we don’t have Fijian money. He said he would take ANY money. We told him we only had credit cards. He looked at us, sighed, and said, “Okay, okay, I’ll take one of those!”

Everyone greeting us with the Fijian Bula but spoke in English. We were surprised when talking to some of the locals, finding that some who were born and raised there didn’t speak fluent Fijian. Apparently Hindi can be as important as Fijian, and English seems to be the lingua franca. We encountered lots and lots of smiles – a very happy people. It was a very enjoyable day re-visit for us.

Sunset over the South Pacific as we made our way to Lautoka. The sunsets and skies have been just magnificent.
The morning we arrived, we took this shot from the ship. The island in front looks like the head of a floating alligator. The islands in the distance are the Yasawa Islands, quite a few that form a northward chain in the South Pacific.
This is Jotamena, working at the port. He was happy to pose for us in full Fijian “formal” dress. He asked for a “cut” when we publish his photo. We told him, “we make no money from our site, but we will make you famous!” He laughed heartily.
The median has been planted with Royal palms, a unique feature in the city. Railroad tracks still run through the middle of town. Last time, we captured a train filled with sugar cane here in Sugar City, but none today.
These nice signs were placed wherever the sidewalk had been modified for access.
Be tidy. A good motto for life!
Inside the Bargain Box, all the signage is in English. We bought a pair of scissors for a few dollars, but the ship wouldn’t allow us to take them to our cabin because they were more than 4 inches long. What did they think we were going to do with scissors???? We can take a steak knife from the dining room any time if we had nefarious ideas. Silly. (They will return them to us as we leave the ship.)
As in all parts of the world, American sports teams items are everywhere.
A view down Vitogo Parade, the main drag.
Apparently, Praful Patel does it all – financial advisor, tax agent, and data processing! Keep flexible to maximize your earnings!
He looked SO odd to us…..(and not only because he is only half there).
There are some huge, old, lovely trees downtown.
This mosque was quite large, in the center of town. Its imam for 25 years was killed in the 2019 Christchurch Mosque shooting.
The Fiji dollar is worth slightly less than half of the US dollar. The $6 lamb curry is US $2.68…quite cheap for lunch! But the typical annual salary here is just under US $8,000.
It was unusual – many of the stores showed parents and two children, like this, wearing identical patterned clothing.
The closeup of the little boy is a little creepy…..
These colorful women were just hangin’ out in their everyday clothing.
Sugar City Mall – we didn’t know what to expect.
Not much, as it turned out. There were a few stores and this large toilet area they call “public convenience.” As you can see, it costs less than 10 cents US.
Chicken guts?? No, thank you.
The chicken feet – about $1/pound.
Don’t know what it means, but we liked the name of this store.
Lots of signage about what you can’t do.
We think she was (gasp!) sitting for free, but it looks like she doesn’t much care.
Lots of signs around town about protection from corruption.
This is Prit, employed in the local supermarket. She lived with her family for 30 years in Sacramento! When her husband passed away, she returned to her homeland, Fiji. She talked with us for a while and was just lovely.
HUGE local avocados – they would cost about $1-2 each.
A tongue painter – Vampire Blood Gum. We can just imagine!
Never having heard of mustard oil, we found out that it is popular in Asia and may be the best oil for your health. It has huge benefits for your heart!
Also in the supermarket were these disposable plates made from sugar cane pulp, in the city noted for sugar cane! Bravo!

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