October 1, 2022
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New Year’s Eve in Taveuni–The Pinnacle of my Fiji Vacation!

New Year’s in the world’s first time zone–the first celebratory place on the planet.

Just down the road from Makaira (Roberta Davis’ and John Llanes cool little resort) is a local hangout called Tramontos.  

It was a bit slow to start.  Someone opined that money was tight and perhaps not enough visitors were coming because of curtailed inter island air service.  Whatever the reason, it was pretty darned empty in that restaurant.

Just a few of us eating chicken curry, waiting for the big moment to arrive. Being a smart alec, I asked for goat curry, which is the traditional New Year’s meal here in Taveuni.  They weren’t serving goat because it’s expensive. 

So let’s digress for a moment.

Everybody who can afford goat for the New Year’s feast will buy one.  People in Fiji love their goat curry the way local Japanese in Hawaii love their New Year’s Day sashimi.

So how do you buy goat meat in Taveuni?  You buy the whole damn goat.

The other day I witnessed a goat sale which was taking place at Audrey Brown’s front yard.  Audrey is an American who sells baked goods on her front porch near the airport.  All of a sudden the goat sellers literally washed ashore.  Scruffy guys came in on several boats carrying about 40 goats with bound feet.  (I can assure you, Audrey was not amused when the boats showed up on her beach but that’s another story).

When I got there, one of goats already displayed a slit throat.  The rest were shivering and bleating in terror. Barbaric stuff you may think. 

You may be right in this case.  It was not something you’d see in San Francisco or Honolulu.

In developed countries we don’t see the cows slaughtered before they reach Safeway.  Certainly not this way.  In Fiji, the supply chain is a bit more direct. (I’ll show the whole goat sale series in a future blog).

So back to New Year’s in Fiji.

New Year’s ended up being lots of fun (except for goats).  After dinner people started trickling in.  Mostly the kailoma gang from nearby Naselesele Village and Matei.  Those wild kailomas.  Lot’s of dancing and drinking and carrying on.   Here are a few photos, just to show you I’m not making this up.

So let’s fast forward to New Year’s Day.  In an intimate moment I wandered over to Roberta’s restaurant (Captain John’s Galley) and found her (finally) taking down the Christmas Tree.  It was a plastic tree but as she suggested nowadays, plastic trees and hip and eco-friendly.  (Not mamagi).

Happy New Year to all of you from all of us at Fiji Guide and from sunny Taveuni.

Wish you all a healthy, prosperous New Year. 

See you in Fiji.

Rob Kay

Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award winner Rob Kay wrote the original Lonely Planet Fiji Travel Guide, and is Founder of Fijiguide.com.

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