Imagine Fiji. White sands, cobalt blue waters with reefs of coral and bright vibrant sea life, peaceful resort pools, deep strong drinks served with long straws in an unpeeled cocoanut, and a gentle cooling breeze sweeping over your bronzed suntanned body as you peacefully meditate on life and its meaning.
Yeah that’s not Lautoka.
Lautoka feels ten degrees hotter than anywhere else in the world. The air is stagnant, the roads are dirty, the people hot and bothered and not in a good way. There’s a B.B.Q. chicken right next to the Australian horse book, and two restaurants named Sea View, one good one very bad, with hardly a view of the sea at all.
Ah Lautoka, our first impression was the fresh, wet gum under the table at the Jolly Good that Simona accidentally dipped her backpack in and then quickly spread to her pants and blouse. And it didn’t get much better from there.
But! -there was the Market. Situated next door to the Lautoka Mall (not a mall) and the bus station which smells of diesel exhaust and leaves a palpable layer of soot on your skin and lungs, the Market is the absolute best thing about Lautoka. It’s sick good if you like produce. Crazy good!
The produce sold there is grown all near Lautoka in the villages and farms by ordinary people like you and me who aren’t subsidized by the government and have no interest in pesticides and hormones. It’s like if we had a really good apple and orange tree in our back yard and sold it to people. The pineapples were the best I ever had, the oranges succulent, the apples to die for and the chili peppers so fresh they get moldy on the bus trip home.