Take this heart
And give it to a charity

Take this heart

And give it to the poor

Take this heart
And give it to the Salvation Army
I don’t think I need it anymore … 

We boarded the Flyer bound north for Nacula, where we’d booked four nights at the reputable Oarsman’s Bay, and found that the music on board hadn’t improved. In fact The Carpenters were now on heavy rotation. Ugh.

Oarsman’s has a fascinating history. We were scheduled to stay to Sept. 8, the six-year anniversary of its founding, which came about amidst the coup of 2000 when American magnate and owner of nearby Turtle Island (one week stay: $3,000) Richard Evanson was forced – after a brief imprisonment in one of his own bures – to finance a sizable loan to the local tribe, among other bestowals to local interests. In two months they’ve scheduled a big party at Oarsman’s to celebrate finally paying off the loan.

The bay itself, nestled between huge looming humps of lushly verdant isle, has been declared “Tabu” (pronounced “tambu”) by the local chief in an effort to protect the coral reefs here – which run right up to the white-sand beach – and their dependent sea life from the encroachment of current and impending development: the water therefore is sacred and must be treated as such.

It all sounds very serious, and it is, but this is still Fiji, one laid-back country if ever there was one. Everything operates on “Fiji Time,” generally 30 to 45 minutes past schedule. And why not? It’s too beautiful here, too warm, too idyllic, to stress the time.



And it is a happy country. Songs are the preferred method of expression. The language seems to lack a word for “goodbye”: instead, the staff, almost all natives (excepting management, Evanson’s presence manifested), gather on the beach with their guitars and serenade the departing boatload of guests, just as they welcome the daily new arrivals with more ebullient musical efforts. Always, it seems, they are strolling the beach, or sitting near the dinner tables, guitars in hand, humming and singing and smiling.



The result is infectious. One comes here burdened with the cares of ordinary life and very quickly gets swept up in the rhythm of the place – “Fiji Time” – the deliberate pace of life: the result of which is total relaxation. Which, after all, is the chief purpose of a holiday.


All too soon, of course, it’s over, and we return to the “real world.” Fijians refer to this in almost snickering, mocking terms. We can’t blame them.