Ni Sa Bula! That means welcome in Fijian. And the culture of Fiji is indeed welcoming. From the first moment I stepped foot on the islands of Fiji, I felt the love. Actually, I even felt it from the time I boarded the Air Pacific flight from LA when the music set the tone. Ten hours later, when we arrived in Nadi, Fiji, we were met by singing and “BULA” from everyone! Our transfer company, Rosie Holidays, met us with flower leis and cold mint-scented towels. And the singing continued.
This welcome was demonstrated repeatedly as our group moved from island to island. Each time we arrived by boat at a new island, there was a contingent of music makers from that resort singing and playing a welcome. They also sent us off with a friendly goodbye song called “Isa lei.” Music and singing is deeply embedded in the Fijian culture. Some sang a capella with many harmonized parts, others with accompaniment from guitars, ukuleles and home-made instruments. My favorite was the one-string bass that was built on a box with a broom handle (see photo above).
Rony, our Rosie Holidays transfer guide for the week, told us about his own family and taught us about the emphasis on family that all Fijians honor. Rony is 47th in line for village Chief. Yes, 47th. He is the youngest of 14 in his family and has many uncles who rank before him in lineage. Rony doesn’t expect to ever be Chief of his village, but that does not dampen his enthusiasm for family or his personal welcome to the lovely islands of Fiji. And throughout the week, he reiterated that we, too, are considered family, just by visiting.
Unfailingly, staff at the resorts, clerks in stores, and even people on the streets who had nothing to gain or prove, smiled and said “Bula.” The sentiment is genuine and heartfelt. The Fijian people are collectively warm and happy to share their cultural heritage with visitors. Without a doubt, I felt very welcome to their island paradise.
Note: This educational trip was sponsored by Goway Travel in honor of their 40th Anniversary. Visit their website www.Goway.com.