Fiji 1986: Firewalkers of Beqa

After being rained out in Raratonga, Air New Zealand rescued me and delivered me 1400 miles east to Nadi, the international airport of Fiji. From there I took a short hop across the main island of Viti Levu to the capital city of Suva and began my Fiji adventure. I had heard that some of the nicest beaches were along the south coast of Viti Levu. I rode the bus along the south coast on the Queens Road until I found some beach bungalows that looked inviting. I made that my base for the next several days.


Beach along the south coast of Viti Levu

I found the Fijians were among the friendliest people on earth. Many tourists are attracted to Fiji for the relaxing atmosphere and the friendly locals. While there I was offered the local drink Kava. It was a murky looking concoction made from ground pepper roots and served in a half coconut shell or a stone bowl which is shared communally. Mildly narcotic, it eventually makes your mouth and lips numb and gives you an overall feeling of relaxation.

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Friendly Fijian lady


German tourist on the south coast of Viti Levu

Besides relaxation, high on my to-do list for the island of Fiji was to see the fire walkers from the island of Beqa. They were being featured at a resort near Suva.

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I don’t know how the hell they do it. But they make a roaring bonfire and walk over the hot coals several times without burning their feet. I was able to actually go up and touch their feet after. There was nothing unusual about them . No thick calluses or anything to protect the feet. Some theorize that they work themselves into a hypnotic trance and it somehow protects their feet.


Firewalker after the walk

I know there have been several motivational speakers who have encouraged their followers to try this with mixed success. The idea is that if one can achieve a degree of self hypnosis then the subconscious sends a message to protect the feet and mask the pain. Apparently these motivational gurus believe that if a person can accomplish this feat, they will gain greater self-control in their overall life. In reality, Some people have been able to do it, but many others have sustained severe burns and lawsuits have followed.

To see a full firewalking ceremony, please check out this YouTube video: Firewalkers of Fiji

A few words about the Fijian government. A long time part of the British Commonwealth, Fiji became independent in 1970 and in 2006 a military government took control and has been in power since. One of the precipitating factors in the coup d’état was the fact that the Indian population of the island was approaching 50%. The Indians were brought in by the British beginning in the 1870s to work the plantations. With a higher birth rate than the indigenous Fijians, they were now posing a threat to native voting power. Even though Indians had been there for more than century, the indigenous Fijians still viewed them as outsiders and that they should not be able to control the government. Like the Hawaiians, the Fijians didn’t have a a hell of a lot of control over their immigration a century and a half ago, but perhaps there is a lesson here on the long run consequences of losing control of a country’s immigration.

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