Goodbye SavuSavu hello Taveuni

Posted on June 13, 2017

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Across the water from Vanua Levu lies Taveuni. The garden island is famed for the famous and rare flower Tagimaucia, found growing high in the mountains. It’s also a place divers come to stay and visit the rainbow reef and the world famous Great White Wall.

I’m here for week. I packed up my life and moved out of SavuSavu early after The Drummer kicked me out. In a nutshell it was made clear I was no longer welcome. I wish I could tell you all that my experience in Fiji has been positive, but the truth is it has been soured by ex pats, not once but twice! Foreigners with insecurities, egos, dollar signs in their eyes and the inability to take any comments or asked-for opinions maturely.

The Fijians are wonderful and after my bust up with The Drummer I had no shortage of offers from so many of the resort staff for a new roof over my head. I was so touched i welled up every time someone said, “come home Asha, this should not have happened,”. With regards to my dive team, I would certainly not have put any of them in an uncompromising position by hosting me. The Drummer’s inability to separate personal and professional could have caused problems for them; and I would not do that to them.

The Drummer came home on Wednesday night after a horribly toned conversation with me at work in the afternoon and summoned me out of my room. My heart was beating fast and I was actually a little scared of what might happen. From his armchair in the living room his eyes narrowed and he had one message to deliver and it was done full of spite and resentment, “You’ve got your Dive Master. I think we’re done here!”. He left the house shortly afterwards driving off in a rage.
I spent all of that night crying and packing and messaging friends on the other side of the globe. My first step was to get the hell out of his house. The biggest mistake I made was to live under the same roof. I moved out the next morning.

Saying thank you has not been enough for The Drummer. He threw the price of the dive master deal back in my face over and over again. I actually don’t know what he expected in return? I don’t do grovelling and no one should have to. He set the cost and the conditions. He even made a damn video telling me it would be a great opportunity for everyone to revisit standards to that level and to have me onboard. So I came, I paid, and I upheld my end of the deal. I worked six days a week and tried to represent the company with professionalism and make clients feel at ease and happy. I had no problem coming in on a day off if we were short staffed. I was delighted to muck in at work and loved being part of the dive team. It has been a wonderful eight weeks with the boys and the last three were the best when he wasn’t around. I saw everyone come out of their shell and there was laughter all the time.

But let’s make one thing clear the internship I agreed was paid for. I didn’t pull a wage and I worked the same hours as everyone else. No matter what the discounted cost, it was not free which makes me a paying customer. And as a paying customer he personally gave the worse service as a manager.

The problems began to arise when he asked my opinion on work-related things and in good faith I gave an honest opinion which was always taken as a negative and met with rudeness and later tension because he couldn’t gauge tone. It was exhausting waking on egg shells around someone so fragile. Sadly I’ve learnt my lesson the hard way. I will never trust anyone ever again.

When I came into work on Thursday morning to say goodbye to my team a Tsunami of tears began to fall. I fought to stay strong but I failed. Each of them gave me a pained smile as I said this was the end of the road and I would not be coming back. I felt cheated and betrayed for not being able to enjoy the last two weeks as a fully functioning member of the dive team. The boys are excellent in the water and brilliant in their knowledge and skills. The dive shop is lucky to have every one of them.

It was so hard to hug each of them tightly and say goodbye through the sobs. The staff have been like family. They have welcomed me into the fold treating me like one of them. Comfortable enough to play pranks on me, inviting me to sit and eat lunch with them in the staff canteen, going out after work, drinking Kava. I can’t thank them enough because it has been done unconditionally and with kindness. I’ve learnt loads and I’ve been honoured to have shared proper Fijian time with them. 

My last three days in SavuSavu were not lonely. I blew my budget and rented a one bedroom villa with a killer view and then spent the evenings socialising. I was invited to the village for an amazing meal and to watch rugby, I had dinner with both of my instructors, drinks with the boys and dancing until the wee hours. They are genuine people and I would in a heart beat open my home to them. So much of their affection and hospitality reminds me of the East Africans. What a shame the islanders have to suffer at the hands of foreigners taking over and bringing their emotional baggage with them. I will try to remember only the good times I had doing my dive master certification because there were certainly plenty of those with my Fijian dive team.

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