I have recently become convinced that “Fiji time”, the tendency for time to be fluid and not strictly adhered to, was invented to play havoc with the comings and goings of my everyday life. This is a new pinnacle of egocentricity for me that I am equally excited and ashamed of. The conspiracy is a carefully constructed ruse dating back many years and carefully constructed to seem like it is a part of Fijian culture in an elaborate attempt to fool me into thinking I just have bad luck. You see, the reason I hold these seemingly outlandish views about an endearing aspect of Fijian culture, is that Fiji time never EVER works in my favour.
I’m on time for the boat! Boat is 3 hours late.
I make a booking to go fishing early in the morning when the bite is hot. Fisherman sleeps in a couple of hours, we catch nothing.
I take a bus half an hour earlier than I need to. The front wheel of the bus falls off and we arrive two hours late.
Now none of this is really rare, it’s even what you would expect to happen if Fiji time really was a nice part of Fijian culture and not an invention to torment and frustrate me. I’m not culturally insensitive after all, just overly inward focused at times. The problem is that whenever running late would benefit me, everything runs like clockwork. It’s seriously like they hired a crack team of German engineers to whip them into shape and whenever I am a few minutes behind schedule.
I’m 5 minutes late for the boat! Boat left on time, next one is in two hours.
I decide to sleep in an extra hour instead of getting to the island early. Everyone went fishing early that morning and they wont be back until lunch.
I take a bus an hour early in case wheels fall off the bus. The bus driver heroically challenges the world land speed record and I arrive three hours early. I sit around and hum songs to myself for as long as I was on the bus.
This dark conspiracy actually works as a double whammy in some situations where I get both unfavourable manifestations of Fiji time in the one foul setting. Last week I booked a massage for 2pm and had lunch arranged beforehand. Lunch ran late (Fiji time!) and I was getting nervous about missing the massage, so My brother and I hurried out to the road to flag something down for transport. We waited about 25 minutes for a bus, truck, taxi, minvan, anything to drive past and pick us up (No hurries no worries!). This is on Fiji’s busiest highway, where usually you hit something about every 5 or 10 minutes that will get you. Eventually a guy picked us up in a resort taxi and promised to take us right there. We stopped on the way for 10 minutes to drop off some vegetables to a friend of his (Sega na leqa!). Despite all of this we got back to the massage place at 2:03pm and ran to the massage bure. Of course, only one masseuse was there so I let my brother start and said I would wait. At about 2:17 after six or seven Fijian ladies ran around yelling out “SUUUUUEEEEEE? SUUUUUUUEEEEEEEE!” my massage lady wondered in (Ni sa bula Sue!). She had gone for a walk to see who was getting off a big bus that drove into the driveway up the road (You were here at 2? Isaaaaaaa!). As she started to massage I let out a desperate plea “Fiji time start… Fiji time finish?”.
I have to segway at this point and say the massage was great. Even if the massage ladies gossiped the whole time in Fijian. They do a great job and it’s cheap. I would go back. 4 out of 5 for the massage.
At 3:00:00pm the ladies both clapped their hands and finished. I sighed, took a quick look around for German engineers grinning in the bushes and walked off. There isn’t really much you can say in a situation like that… just laugh at yourself and just remember you only paid $12aud for the massage in the first place. Fiji is a pretty kickass place to live, even if there is a country wide conspiracy just to mess with you.