Returning to Suva city, we ventured over to the local crafts market where one could buy goods that ranged in value and sophistication from gallery-quality to future garage-sale potential. Some of the vendors had closed for the day so we browsed a bit. Sally bought a couple items and then we returned to the hotel to find the boys, determined to return to the craft market early on Saturday morning. Our guys were happily planted in the crowded hotel bar. This was definitely the after work gathering place for locals as well as hotel guests. Smoking in bars here is still widely acceptable – in fact smoking just about anywhere in Fiji seems to be a popular activity. This bar was obnoxiously smoky. We convinced the guys to adjourn to Glen and Sally's room where we had planned a little wine, cheese and hors d'oeuvres tasting. Jan and Sally had purchased a sampling of wines during our excursion and wanted to try them out before ordering full cases. We had such a variety of snacks that we let that pass for dinner.
Saturday was our big day. We walked over to the museum – small but fascinating – taking in the history of Fiji's culture, her people and her evolution from vicious cannibalism to intense Christianity. The first large room contained various nautical pieces, including very large war canoes, fishing vessels, ceremonial canoes and even the remains of The HMS Bounty's rudder (yes of the mutiny fame). Beyond this area were lots and lots of cannibal artifacts, war clubs, kava bowls, jewelry, shells, and so on, and then we came to my favorite room the one housing the beautiful and incredibly made wedding gowns, dresses and other accessories made of Tapa Cloth. I was fascinated at the intricate detail and artistry it had taken to hand tool tree bark into these incredible garments. The Fijian Tapa is much softer and more pliable than what we had seen in the Marquesas and in Tonga. Lovely. In fact several of our friends purchased a variety of Tapa items (table cloths and runners, hangings, etc.) but as rich looking and appealing as they are I just do not have room on our boat to store these things. OK, I digress. The final two areas of the museum were dedicated to the influx of cultures from other nations – the largest initially was from Great Britain, with the missionaries and religion. Many of them were eaten and in fact the museum holds the remains of Tom Baker's (the most famous of the edible disciples) personal effects including the soles of his shoes and his Bible, AND the utensils used to devour him! Other cultures that have infused themselves into Fiji are the Indian and the Asians.
Leaving the museum we wandered back over to the crafts market where I purchased some lovely hand woven baskets, our own cannibal fork and another for my brother-in-law who loves to carve. I thought he might have fun replicating this one or just looking at it. Afterward we browsed downtown shops and then over to the fish/fruits/vegetable/kava market. Wow! This is a big one! The fish market was something to behold and difficult to describe. They had everything that lives in Fiji's waters! We did not make a purchase here just looked. Beyond that was a vast "Flea Market" (their name), which was another hand-craft and clothing market. I bought a dress for F$15.00. Frank by now was maxed out and could not take another minute of browsing so he plopped down at a table and prayed for the shopping to be done soon. We made our way back to the hotel, stowed our purchases and got ready for dinner to celebrate Dave's birthday. We chose the Bad Dog Café for our celebration. It was big on ambience but mediocre on edibles. We had a great time nonetheless. We returned to the hotel to find a wedding in full swing. The bride was decked out in the typical white flowing gown but the groom on the other hand was resplendent, decked out in full Tapa ceremonial attire. I managed to get them to pose for me to snap their picture.
Early Sunday morning we boarded the bus back to Vuda Point, arriving with plenty of time for Glen to grab his Sax and head over to the Yacht Club to jam with the local band. We stuck around through Wednesday when our order arrived from Cost-U-Less. It was Christmas in July! Frank hovered and drooled as I unpacked and inventoried the scrumptious goodies. We got everything re-packaged and stowed and ready for departure to Robinson Crusoe Island on Thursday morning.