Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #145: Getting to Know You

People here always said to me, “Why would you leave civilization to go to a place like Fiji?” Fiji is a far more civilized place than California or New York City.
Raymond Burr

A special thanks to our very talented guest host, Priscilla of Scillagrace for hosting this week’s “Getting To Know You” challenge. For my post, I’m focusing on a culture which intrigued and enchanted us and taught us a bit about a tribal societies.

Several years ago we spent several weeks in Fiji for a very long layover when traveling from Australia to the United States. We knew very little about the country before our visit–aside from its reputation for its natural beauty and tropical climate, but very quickly the people and the culture captivated us.

We spent several days on the island of Viti Levu, one of the largest islands in this nation archipelago, and then continued our stay on Savusavu, one of the smaller islands, accessible by a small transport plane.

On the Road to the Beach, Savusavu

As you can see, the natural beauty of the islands is stunning with its lush tropical forests, thousands of acres of unspoiled land and pristine beaches. Orchids and coconuts grow wild on the side of the road that winds up and down the hills that slope down to the shore.

A Tribal Village in Viti Levu

Traditionally, Fijians live in tribal villages, carved out of the rainforests. In this village, the people share a community school, a church, and a public bath house with showers and toilets. The homes have traditional thatched roofs and an oven behind each house. The houses have wide windows and doors, open to the cooling breezes. Their community is ruled by a tribal chief, who is appointed for life. One morning, we met with one of the tribal chiefs as a sign of respect and asked for his permission to visit a waterfall on tribal land. Here you can see my husband and our guide enjoying a swim in the water.

Waterfall in Savusavu, Fiji.

Fiji’s population is predominately indigenous Fijians and Indians. They gave us a warm welcome. The indigenous Fijians are tall and graceful people who claim that they are the happiest people in the world. In fact a recent WIN-Gallup poll, 89% of Fijians report they are happy, which makes Fiji one of world’s happiest countries.

Two Lovely Fijians

The ancestors of some Indians came to Fiji as indentured laborers on sugar cane plantations during the British occupation in the 1800’s and 1900’s. Later, others came as free immigrants.

The Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple in Nadi.

No doubt, Fiji is a tropical paradise. There are very good reasons why people fall in love with this country, like the American actor Raymond Burr, who lived for many years on these islands. But, as we got to know the country and its people, we learned about their struggles and areas of concern as Fiji opens up to tourism and modernization. With tourism, there are risks of increased development and commercialization. By wholeheartedly adopting elements of Western culture, there are dangers of losing their own customs and traditions. Public health messages on the television also warn Fijians about the dramatic increase in hypertension and diabetes, relatively new diseases on the islands that started when the Fijians started importing food from the West and opening franchises like Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Sunset Magic on Viti Levu, Fiji

We’ll be watching to see how this fascinating country navigates these changes and decides how much of their own local culture they want to maintain and what will be transformed. Hopefully, they’ll take the best of the West and maintain their own values and culture. It’s a delicate balance. How delicate? I’ll illustrate this with a story from our visit to a tribal village.

When our guide was showing us the highlights of her village, we asked about a small stretch of sidewalk–the only paved part of the community. When we asked why this small path was paved, our guide shrugged. “The missionaries came and wanted to do it,” she said. My husband asked, “What do you think about it?” She shrugged, smiled and said, “It really doesn’t matter to us. But the missionaries really wanted to do it and it made them happy, so we let them do it.”

We hope you join us this week for Priscilla’s inspiring “Getting to Know You Challenge.” Visit her site for the details of the challenge and see her expressive and beautiful photos.

Next week, it’s my turn to lead the challenge. So, please come back next Saturday at noon for our “Focusing on the Details” challenge. Until then, have a wonderful creative week and please stay safe.

59 replies »

  1. 30 years ago we went to Australia and broke up the trip by stopping in Fiji for two days. It was delightful. Our son who was 4 was a bit jet lagged and threw small fit at lunch one day. The waitress came up and asked us if he would like some ice cream. I saw 4 years of consequences for poor behavior going out the window. Our daughter who was almost 2 had a grand time as all the local people working in the resort would dance with her and she thought that was terrific . I would love to go back and stay longer. Your post brought back some memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that, Anne!! They wanted to make him happy. I bet he was after the ice cream!! And your daughter enjoyed all her dance partners! That’s wonderful!! I hope you go back. It is a special place.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fiji is indeed a beautiful place, but still dealing with three decades of political upheaval, coup de tat, military intervention in government, and all the ethnic tensions that have accompanied that. I hope that the recent — apparent — return to democracy lasts.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Patti, thank you for these beautiful images of Fiji and for sharing about your experiences there. I had the pleasure of working with the Fiji sailing team at the 1996 Olympics. I enjoyed talking with their trainer while the athletes were racing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have heard Fiji is a very friendly place with friendly people. I have always wanted to go to Tahiti. I think I would love either place (or both)! Beautiful photos and I loved your story. Thanks for sharing Patti!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Jane. I’m delighted you stopped by! I always enjoy hearing your thoughts on the post/photos. And yes, it was sad to see the beginnings of fast food and its effects on people’s health. Diabetes is a major health problem. The local grocery store, which was tiny, did not have lettuce, but it always had plenty of soda.😱.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful stories of Fiji, Patti. Thank you for taking us there, your beautiful photos make me want visit there. Like many places, once it is opened to tourists, it is difficult to maintain there own traditions. The last image is so very beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true, Amy. It is difficult to hold onto traditions once the “floodgates” are opened to tourism and commercialization. I hope these places can navigate the changes wisely. But it’s hard, I’m sure. And thanks too for your kind words about the images!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Beautiful choice Patti – what a wonderful memory for you. Fiji looks wonderful. I’ve always heard about how beautiful it is but haven’t seen much about the people and the culture so thanks for sharing that. Here’s hoping the western culture doesn’t proliferate there. I thought the same think when we came across a KFC in remote China. Really?!??! Terrific post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Tina. Many thanks!! I know…KFC in China and Fiji?? I wish the West exported some of the finer elements of our culture!! I’m delighted you enjoyed this post. Enjoy the week, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I really enjoyed reading this post Patti and the photos. Tourism is a dual edged sword. When it becomes the only revenue stream it can be a nightmare. Here in Cornwall where tourism, hospitality and second homes are the norm, local people are priced out of home ownership, jobs tend to be seasonal and during winter a lot of places are closed. I do hope Fiji doesn’t lose its traditions and happiness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Jude. Yes….you say it so well: “Tourism is a dual edged sword. When it becomes the only revenue stream it can be a nightmare.” We’ve seen that again and again in our travels. I wonder if there will be a change from tourism to other sources of revenue post-pandemic?? I totally agree with you about cultures keeping their traditions and their happiness, too!! Thanks for your thoughtful comments. They are always appreciated!


  8. Wow! What a fascinating and exotic subject to get to know. I appreciate your respect and inquisitiveness in your stories. Your photos show a bright, colorful, and uncomplicated world…one I’d love to get to know, too! Thanks for sharing this relationship!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Beyond my dreams! It always seems so exotic, as testified by your phots, Patti. One of our walking group was actually born on the island- that’s as close as I’ve been 🙂 🙂 Love, love, love that sunset!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, definitely exotic and a flash back to the Garden of Eden in some ways! Oh, I’m delighted you know someone who was born there. A fascinating culture. Have a good week and plenty of beautiful sunsets!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Cee. Thanks so much!! I am delighted. Fiji is a little bit of the Garden of Eden. I wonder how it will modernize (commercialize) over the next few decades or whether it will fight to preserve its way of life.


  10. Looks like Paradise! What a kind place, where happiness is the core value in life, instead of “success” or wealth as in so many western countries. It seems like a better way to live. Hats off to the Fijian people. I hope they can keep those core values intact as they go through the inevitable changes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s so true, Dianne. Happiness is a core value. I was frankly stunned because it’s so different from the values in the West. But isn’t that the purpose in life, after all? Instead of endless and never truly gratifying materialism??


  11. It reminds me of the John Lennon quote,
    “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ohh….that’s wonderful, Dianne!! I love that. They said you didn’t understand the assignment…but they didn’t understand the purpose of living!! You had it 100% right from a very young age. Wonderful.


    • Hi, John. Yes, it’s an intriguing place. I felt like I was staying in the Garden of Eden…but like paradises around the world, someone wants to put in a parking lot!! Thanks for your comments, as always!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Wonderful post, Patti! I know how you loved Fiji and you have sent many beautiful images from there. I have a friend born in Fiji, and she is always longing to go back there. Love the happy two women!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, A-C. Many thanks! That’s wonderful–a friend from Fiji. I’d love to know more about their culture and traditions. It was a fascinating place. I can understand why she wants to go back. And thanks too for your thoughts on the two happy women. It was really eye-opening to see their values put into practice in daily life. The people in the West could learn from them!! I hope all’s well with you this week….


      • Yes – we have much to learn from “real” people, don’t we… The week is going fine, and tomorrow is Walpurgis Night!


  13. Years ago I stopped at Hawaii for a few days on the loooong way down to Australia and Fiji for five days on the way back. I’ve never gone again but if (and when) I can do it again I will do the same thing, but stay longer in Fiji – it was truly magical and the people were wonderful and you’ve captured it so well…


  14. Truly an interesting place and a people that I would like to get to know. Interesting factoid on Raymond Burr. I’ve recently rediscovered his acting talent in binge watching Perry Mason reruns.


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