Lautoka, Fiji

4/27/19 – Saturday Thermal Mudpool Tour

This was another Vacations to Go tour (Thermal Mudpool) and one of my favorites, right next to Hobbiton and the Glow Worm Cave/Kauri Trees tours. Only John and I and two sisters were on this tour. Our van driver was most accommodating. Thank heavens we had air conditioning. All their public transportation had open windows for air conditioning. We’re even closer to the equator here.

I’m mentioning some things we learned about Fiji on our way to the Mudpool. Note, I struggle to remember all they tell us until I can get back to the ship and write down notes.

Fiji makes its income from sugar cane farms and factories, fishing, farming and tourism. Their minimum wage is $2.60/hr. For cutting sugar cane (really hard work) they get $30/ton. They grow a lot of tapioca/cassava for it’s roots. For them, I think it’s like how they use the taro plant in Hawaii for it’s roots to make poi. They have public schools and three universities, one on each major island. The schools teach all these languages: Hindi, Fijian and English. The first peoples to come here were from a tribe in Tanzania, Africa. The British arrived in the 1700’s, starting the sugar cane industry. The British brought Indians over (from India) to cut and process the sugar cane. I think, similar to the Hawaiians, the Fijians weren’t so interested is back breaking work. Now the people there are about ½ African (curly hair) and ½ Indian (straight hair). There are many religions here. If there’s a red flag in the yard, that indicates an Indian place of prayer. Each village has their own chief, their own church. They live as a community, sharing everything. A favorite drink is Kava. To drink it they gather around a common bowl and share the drink as they relax together.

Horses and cows roam free. If a rope is tied to a horse (or a cow is tied to a stake) then they have an owner. Travel throughout the rural areas is by horse and free. You can catch a wild horse or ask the owner’s permission to ride. In town you can ride the local buses. Kahn’s buses are owned by Kahn. “Classic” buses are owned by another man. Houses of concrete were built to survive cyclones.

Best time to visit: June through October because October to May is the rainy season).

While on our way to the “Tifajek Mudpool and Hotspring” we saw some lovely scenery.
More lovely scenery

John and I ready for our big mudpool adventure. There are changing rooms so we changed into our “bathers” and bare feet there. Our mudpool guide was so helpful she took everyone’s cameras to take our pictures while she explained the history of the pools as well as when we moved from one pool to another.

We put the black mud from a bucket onto all exposed skin. I felt just like a child doing this. Such wicked fun. I also forgot to cover many parts of my face.
Kind of like applying sunscreen, but not so oily.

Close ups. Our guide introduced us to all the upcoming pools while our mud was able to dry. It felt so good – cool in that very hot humid place.
My guy.

History: At the end of World War II the soldiers came to keep the peace in Fiji. They were English, Australian and American. They noticed the warm earth so they sought and found the source, near a tree.

At the mud pool (very warm) where you sink up to your knees in the mucky smooth mud.

I swam to a rock at a warm spot. There we slowly wiped/washed the mud off, returning it to where it’d come from.

The second pool of hot springs where there was gravel and grass at the bottom. We got to clean off more here.
Feeling good!
On our way to massages

Before our 3rd pool, John and I got massages ($10 for 10 minutes each). Wonderful massages. Note the lovely fresh flowers below to look at.
John getting his massage. These ladies do this for their church. All their money goes to the village church.

Our final pool, called the Thermal Pool, which had the hot springs water pouring in at one corner but was generally cooler than the others – more like bath water. Excellent spa experience.

As we were leaving in our van our driver noted that the men just ahead were gathered to drink their Kava. I mentioned that I’d love to take their picture but that I knew I needed to ask their permission. Our driver said he’d ask them. They said yes! Not only that, they offered me some. I asked if it was spicy. No, they assured me. I took a taste. It was a lot like watered down tea with milk in it. Definitely not spicy. So sweet of them. Our driver had said that they could drink beer but this is much cheaper.

Kava gathering

On our way back to the ship we saw an Islamic mosque.

Back on the ship, we were playing cards (“13”) in a card room when we got to know the couple nearby. They play “Canasta”. I asked if they would help me learn. Sure, they also wanted to learn “13 from us. Deal. So we all played “13”. They are Beth and Jamie from England, but they’d recently moved to France. We had great fun sharing the game and stories.

That night, instead of the theater show we got a DVD from the front desk to watch in our cabin: “Black Panther”. Very good show.


About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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2 Responses to Lautoka, Fiji

  1. Judy Andre says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I love the picture of you with the mud on your face! It must’ve been so much fun.

  2. Judy Andre says:

    That’s not a Hindu temple. It’s an Islamic mosque. I thought so from the architecture, but what’s decisive is the words on front: “masjid” is one of the Arabic words for mosque. Then “Al” is Arabic, too.

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