Moving back to the ‘centre’

Philip Glazebrook, in his rather wonderful travel book, Journey to Kars, made the point that if you come to a capital through its surrounding provinces, the contrast allows you to appreciate its qualities in a way that flying from one capital city to another doesn’t. So, flying from London to Sofia you might think Sofia a provincial bore, but arriving in Sofia after travels in rural Bulgaria, it becomes a dazzling hub of civilisation. And so it was for me, arriving in Fiji from Kiribati.

I hadn’t planned to leave the airport in Nadi, despite a 7 hour transit, but the way the airport works I wasn’t allowed to stay in transit, had to enter the country. Happily I know my way around a little, so went out to the main road and grabbed a local bus to Lautoka. Far preferable to tourist-town-Nadi. It felt bustling and vibrant and commercial after the lassitude of urban Tarawa.

First stop, lunch. And I was NOT going to have fish! Great delight when the blackboard street sign outside the first restaurant I paused in front of said, Today’s Special – Duck Curry. They must have known I was coming. And it was such a pleasant change from fish & rice, fish & chips. A small stainless steel bowl of duck curry, the duck no more bone-y than you’d expect, three small soft roti, a poppadum, side dishes of potato & lentil dahl (I think! I don’t really know much about Indian food) … anyway, it was well-flavoured – I want to say ‘authentic’ – and much appreciated.

Then, for a bit of exercise before heading back to the airport, I wandered the streets a little, my main destination the market, which has delighted before, and did again today. My eyes drawn to the fresh produce, especially the fruit – papaya, pineapples, water melon, mangoes … The small sweet bananas of Butaritari are all very well, but variety in all things, even fruit, I reckon. So, even though I didn’t buy anything, not very practical & after a filling lunch no real appetite anyway, I was pleased to find at least water melon & papaya on offer in the Koru lounge after I checked in. Plus kiwifruit. Surely not locally produced, but maybe it’s a branding thing. Whatever. I ate it.

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