Taro and the Similarities and Differences Between Samoa and Fiji
Taro, you seem to eat it so often that you learn to love it or hate it. In the village it is free food from the plantation so it is great to supplement all of your meals. In Tonga, it was the same thing, a food you always seem to eat (even the dogs eat it there). Which is why I was surprised it is not common food there as well.
If you have never had taro, it is similar to a potato. (I seem to say that about several foods here-breadfruit, tapioca and probably a few others.)I usually have it baked in the umu, traditional oven. However, sometimes it is boiled with coconut cream.
In Fiji, taro is only eaten during special occasions, unless you live in the interior. It shocked me that it is eaten as little as it was.
Another difference in diet between the Pacific countries is the lack of cocoa. I know cocoa is grown somewhere in Fiji, just like somewhere in Tonga, but it is not in as much abundance as Samoa, making people not drink cocoa during all hours of the day.
There are less similarities in language between Samoa and Fiji, than Samoa and Tonga. I had trouble understanding most speech, and only picked up only a few words, the easiest being numbers.
Although my family said it was extremely hot in Fiji, I thought it was chilly, much colder than the 30 degrees Celsius I have become used to daily. In Fiji, I felt more willingness to do activities during the afternoon, instead of my afternoon nap that normally helps me through the day.
Seeing most of the houses in Fiji, I was disappointed and wished that they still had more of their traditional houses. I consider traditional houses to be so beautiful that when I saw villages filled with tin roofing on all side of a house, I was let down.
The wonderful commonality that Samoans and Fijians share is their wonderful people. The smiles both people from these countries have are contagious. They also have amazing dancing skills which are wonderful to watch and join.
The two wonderful things Fiji had, that made me jealous dealt with animals. The first being dogs. Dogs are actual pets. They are treated better than they are in Samoa, and do not attack people. It was nice to be safe without a rock. (However whenever I did see a dog, I still scavenged the ground for a rock, just in case.)
The second is pigs. Pigs do not run free throughout the villages, in fact, I did not see any pigs while in Fiji. (Maybe they have realized how necessary the pig pen is.)
The differences might be due to Fiji being more developed and started their tourism earlier than Samoa had. The tourism aspect is wonderful in Fiji, however it made me yearn for Samoa. The more time I spent in Fiji, the more I realized how lucky I am to be in Samoa.
(There are 2 pictures of Samoan ovens, and 3 of Fijian ovens. Samoans use lava rocks, and in Fiji I saw them use river rocks to cook. Fijian ovens are also dug deeper into the ground.)