I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts!!
He didn’t scale the palm tree with his bare hands and feet.
The modern ladder was a much more efficient method to reach the top quickly and stand there safely, while he machete’d the ring of green coconuts to the ground.
There was no denying however, his traditional Fijian coconut gathering and chopping skills.
It took just seconds for him to spin the coconut in his hand and slice off the top in equi-distant portions and puncture the perfectly formed crater, to then present to us a full-to-the-brim green cup of coconut water. The kind we now know to be chock full of electrolytes and about five bucks or more a bottle. We just added ice (ok, some added vodka) and drank the refreshingly, pale liquid pretty much all day.
In fact we probably would have paid just to to watch the spectacle of coconut gathering and chopping all over again.
It wasn’t what we were expecting as we lazed on our sunbeds beside the pool at a privately owned beach house at Denerau in Fiji.
I had never been to Fiji before and it turned out to be a double-dosed experience. My husband and I checked in for two days couple-time at the Hilton prior to spending five further days with his New Zealand family in one of their Kiwi friend’s incredible, holiday home next door. One of many gorgeous getaway mini-mansions in a gated, ex-pat canal community.
The resort was as you’d anticipate. Beautiful, landscaped swimming pools and views out over the stunning Pacific. A comfortable, clean room on the ground floor with an outdoor setting to take in the sunsets and striking blues from the ocean.
Of course there were the seemingly thousand kids at the pool screaming and splashing, the banal offerings at the buffet breakfasts and the ridiculously priced cocktails and bubbles, even at happy hour. But hey all of that is still bliss when back home it’s blusteringly cold, you are on holidays and the sun is shining.
Then we had the probably, unique experience of a Fijian house holiday. And while the home is amazing with five bedrooms, a cinema, resort style pool, jetty, a car to use, massive sun deck and lounges, what has made this tropical island holiday memorable, is Liku and the coconut kids.
Liku is an elderly Fijian woman, whose job for the past six years has to come every day (except Saturday) to the house and keep it clean, ready for the owner (or friends like us) to stay.
Most of the time there is no one to keep the house clean for. But she still comes every day.
When the owner is in residence or there are guests, she floats around the house picking up towels and clothes and anything she deems dirty, whisking them away and cleaning them before you’ve even noticed they are gone. The hardly-worn clothes then appear pressed and fresh on your bed and almost mystically, she knows exactly which bras, undies and assortments are yours even though there are six people in the house. Three men and three women.
She cooks, she makes coffee and she has the most melodious voice and says, ” Oh yesssss,” to anything you ask, request or need.
Liku, is a god-loving woman, who is proud to claim that she and her husband never drink or smoke. Aside from the smoking, which none of us do, she might have found the duty-free-maxed collection of vodka, champagne and wine we’ve brought with us a little disconcerting. But,” oh yessss” she will merrily get us a glass of whatever is requested to go with the coconut pulp (left over from the hatchet-job) we are now eating.
She has worked for the owner of the home since it was built and says God got her the job.” I prayed to God that I would get a good job for nice people, and I thank him every day for delivering me here,” she explained in angelic tones.
God it seems also put her in charge of coconuts.
When four local men arrived to clean the yard, pool and tidy away the fallen palm fronds, I saw her march over to one and hand him a machete. It wasn’t a few minutes later when we heard the hacking that I realised what the massive knife was for.
Down came enough coconuts to keep us in juice for five days. Perhaps Liku needed them for the fabulous coconut chicken curry she cooked later that night for our dinner. Not only were we blessed to have this lovely lady cook us Fijian style food, but she cleaned up as well.
And as most mothers know, a holiday is really a break when you don’t have to think about what to make or have for dinner, let alone cooking it and cleaning up afterwards.
Our attention could then be completely focussed on the other delights of a sunny break in the middle of winter. Like snorkeling and boating and fishing and reading and sleeping and swimming.
We thank god that Liku was the extra something special for our Fijian family get-together. And the final bonus, no washing when we got home. Oh yessss!!!