Cleaning Paradise

Still can’t believe our good fortune! We have friends who actually live in Fiji! Yeah! Some people have all the luck! Sunshine pretty much all year round, and temperatures in the mid 20’s to 30’s makes this an ideal playground for those of us seeking heat and sun. Respite from the cold and rainy days of where we live (not called Land of the Long White Cloud for nothing!)

So imagine this…’re busy planning a November getaway for exploring the South Island by camper van, then your Fiji friend messages you, asking if you’d like to house and cat sit in Fiji for the month of November…..what do you do? You throw the South Island plans aside (it’ll always be there, just below our North Island) and within three days, you’ve bought your Fiji tickets and count the days till sunshine, frangipanis and mangoes!!

Again, for the second time this year we wake up in Fiji, pinching ourselves as we look outside and see the early sunrise on the coconut palms. Yes, it’s true. We are in Paradise! Land of the Tall Coconuts and Marvellous Mangoes. And wait……yes, it’s Mango Season! Our most favourite of ALL fruit! We’re in Fruitopia Deluxe! Everywhere we drive, there are informal roadside stalls selling mounds of mangoes, red hued, yellow, green and orange. Hell, we even found some the size of a small soccer ball, called Tommy Kelton (or something similar sounding) and it is a decadent purple! Kid you not!

Did I mention driving along…..yes? Well, here’s where our luck increases even more! Our generous friends have put us on their insurance, so we can drive their car!! I know, I know! Some people have all the luck!! Well, instead of lying beside a pool in a fancy resort, this time, we are exploring the Real Fiji. Going off the Beaten Track, so to speak. Away from the Big Resorts, and I’ll share what we have found.

Fiji is definitely part of the Third World. It’s not all swaying coconut palm-lined avenues all around the main island. Sometimes, without expecting it, the tar seal ends, and you end up on bone-jarring fret board roads, and just when you wonder if you should turn around and head back to the sealed road, you round a bend and you see the turquoise sea! Breath-taking!

We have explored Wailoaloa Beach and Malomalo Beach, and others I forget the names of, and we have been awe-struck by the different hues of the sea, the vanilla sands of the beaches, and the solid coconut palms edging the beach like sentry-duty soldiers. And then one glances around and we are heart broken at the amount of litter which threatens to overwhelm, both on the shore and water’s edge.

So what can I do? This is the thought which I often ask myself. It’s easy to allow the overwhelm to engulf you and make you saddened at the plight of the marine overload, or you can simply put your imaginary Princess slippers on and decide you will dance away the pollution blues. Normally I have a reusable shopping bag or two in my backpack, or keep a plastic bag in there which I have through default ended up with, specially for occasions like these. The idea is to make a place BETTER off, for you having been there.

Now staying at our friends’ place, allows us access to far more tools than we would normally have on holiday. We have been taking a 25L bucket with us, and we fill that up and dispose of all the litter we have picked up, when we get home, or in a public bin in town. One can easily say, I didn’t make much of a dent in all that rubbish lying around and get despondent, but I choose to feel good about removing one bucket of rubbish from the beach. One bucket less to cause a hazard to marine life and shore lines. Imagine if every trip to the beach, or anywhere really, we could all remove one bucket of senselessly tossed garbage.

There are wonderful stories of people cleaning up beaches in India, removing tonnes of plastic and rubbish, taking back the beaches and improving conditions for all marine life. Truly wonderful heart-warming stories! We have just returned from Malomalo Beach with a bucket of rubbish. This is a local beach, only minutes down from the Tourist-Deluxe Natadola Intercontinental Resort.

Resort beaches are kept clean by the staff, the same staff who live at Malomalo and use the beach as a dumping ground! So sad! I found 23 AA batteries IN the water! They were rusted, and obviously had been there for some time. 23!! I also collected several rusty sheets of iron, and sharp shards of glass and ceramics.

While collecting, three young girls aged 5-7-ish came along and after sharing some of our ginger sweets with them (which they didn’t like), they offered to help me. I explained what we were collecting but they really didn’t get it. They kept bringing me shells from the beach and chucking them into my bucket.

A metal basin, Barbie’s leg, babygro, part of an iPhone cover, bits of plastic linoleum and teapot lid made up some of the more unusual finds on the beach!

Plastic bottles and a shoe!

They looked at me like I was Crae-Crae for sure, when I pulled the shells out and showed them again the rubbish I was collecting……and after contributing a couple of items, they lost interest and decided to go swim instead. I know those kids will be a bit safer from stepping on rusty bits of iron or batteries. We left feeling that yes, Paradise can be a bit better off indeed, after us having visited.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s