I recently read a couple of reviews on tripadvisor about Suva, they were on the Municipal Markets reviews but very specifically about Suva. Two in particular caught my eye, both were people who had stepped off cruise ships and then proceeded to tear strips off this capital city. After reading the reviews I couldn’t help but think about how offensive I found these reviews and I am not Fijian. These reviews have been swirling around in my mind, I like to write reviews and read them, sometimes it’s important to read between the lines. Today I was spurred on even more to write this blog as I sat in a local bar in Savusavu with a few of the 1000+ people that had come ashore from the freshly anchored cruise ship, it was in this bar I witnessed some people not even saying please when they ordered a drink!
You may think I am over-reacting somewhat, but I find it unintelligible that people can visit another place in the world and make judgements that appear to be more offensive and rude rather than constructive and helpful and then to witness the failure to use a simple “please” I had to write this entry!
I have to put this out there because it has plagued me as I sit here in Fiji and have received nothing but pure hospitality and friendliness. I am no expert in the matters of Fijian politics or economy, but it would be classified as a developing nation and like many countries that find themselves in this rather awful sounding category, it is working on developing the major areas, embracing the consumerist mindset and providing for the tourist industry which is a major part of the Fijian economy – these are communities that are trying to provide for people steeped in individualistic mindsets.
I make no secret of the fact that for me the whole cruise thing doesn’t work, it’s not my thing. But from what I know from people who have gone on a cruise, everything is there at hand, no need to leave the boat other than for a mosey round and then return to the comfort of the cruise ship. So herein is the nagging, for all of those people who return to their air conditioned cabins awaiting the next amazing destination, or perhaps slightly disappointing destination, there are many locals who will be very happy that you dropped by and supported their local markets and handicrafts but will return home to probably not an air conditioned home, possibly a home with one room shared by the whole family. Possibly looking forward to the next cruise ship arriving and looking forward to sharing their local hospitality and skills once more, enabling them to be part of their growing economy.
Reviews are good, they help people make decisions, however, when they present as rude and judgemental I personally name my struggles. Is it not important that we first name our own challenges? Is it not important that we name our own prejudices? Is it not important to develop some understanding and awareness of the issues and challenges for the people of the large percentage of the world that do not and may never have the luxury of stepping on a cruise ship or even leaving their village? Is it not important to recognize that a major city will always have its pollution, it’s tiredness, wherever it is, because it is a major city with higher population, higher pollution, etc?
We all holiday in our preferred way, many write reviews, my ask is that they are respectful, honesty can be respectful, if we all begin to remember wherever we might travel, whatever the conditions of where we travel to, it’s someone’s home, it’s where people have raised families, have struggled and have laughed, have loved, it’s home!