Fiji girl, waterfall and soft corals

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ABOUT FIJI - Fiji has it all, beautiful beaches, abundant sunshine, a rich culture, pristine reefs and some of the world's best diving. Fiji supplies all the classic images of paradise. But the best thing about Fiji isn't its palm-draped beaches, colorful coral reefs, or lush green mountains. It is the enormous friendliness of the Fijian people.

There's an old story about a Fijian, who was offered a weekly pay and pension, if he would come to work at a copra plantation. The young man was sitting by the lagoon, eating fruit he had picked from nearby trees while hauling in one fish after another. "Let me make sure I understand you," he said. "You want me to break my back working for you for 30 years, so that I have enough money to come back here and spend the rest of my life sitting by the lagoon, eating fruit from my trees and the fish I catch?"

The Islander's response reflects an attitude still prevalent in Fiji's rural areas, where many people don't have to work in the Western sense. Here life moves at a slow pace, which the locals call "Fiji Time".