Things got real nasty real fast yesterday. We left the ship at the port in Lautoka, Fiji and were driven through the lush, verdant Fijian countryside to the Tifajek Mud Pool and Hot Spring where the sign said we would “Encounter the Natural.” Well, ok, if nasty is natural, I’d say we encountered it. A lot of it.
We were warmly welcomed with singing and swaying by the ladies who later turned out to be the masseuses and then we were
subjected to welcomed with some sort of kava ceremony that sure seemed like it was being made up on the fly. We learned that “bula” means hello. I love when foreign languages keep it simple. No tricky tongue rolling or multiple syllables. Just “bula.”
Before long, we were digging onto big buckets of mud and rubbing it all over ourselves. Had our dear departed mothers seen it, many hissy fits would have been pitched. Sufficiently coated in mud, we were left to dry in the sun. Honestly, I could not decide if we looked more like hippos or elephants at that point. You can see the evidence of the debacle below, but look at your own risk. A word of caution: this photo may reappear on a Christmas card in December, so consider yourself forwarned. Nothing says “Happy Holidays” like the Lawsons covered in mud.
When the mud was dry, we were escorted to a mud hole and, for some reason, did as we were told and climbed right down into it. After “washing off” as much mud as possible with the muddy water, we moved on to a less muddy mud hole. (Stay with me now, I know it makes no sense. FYI, it never will.) For some inexplicable reason, we climbed right down into that one, too. Finally, we were led to a pool that was fairly clear but felt like it was near boiling point. In a rare moment of logic and sanity, we opted to just go back to the ship muddy but not poached. (I guess it could have been a little flashback to our guide’s earlier jokes about his ancestors’ cannibalism and how they liked white meat.) Anyway, our “day spa” experience ended with a ten minute massage by the singing ladies. They sing better than they massage, but who’s complaining?
I realize that there is little interest in my hygiene, but just to let you know, back on the ship, I soaked in the tub for about 45 minutes hoping to get all the mud from under my nails, etc. However, when I saw the bathtub ring upon exiting the tub, I knew a follow-up shower was in order. Sadly, there I found globs of hardened clay in my hair. I am pleased to report that I am finally clean except for a few nagging specks of dirt under my nails. OK, actually, under all twenty of them, but who’s counting?
Like lots of things in life, it was great fun, but one time rolling around in mud was sufficient. Our friends mentioned at dinner that there is a place somewhere in Florida where women wrestle in coleslaw. I do love me some coleslaw, but I am just not much of a wrassler, so that’s going to be a hard pass from me.