Adventure, essay, Food

A Stroll Through Downtown Suva as COVID Restrictions Ease

We strolled through downtown Suva last weekend with our dogs.

It had been a while.

We hadn’t done it, really, since before the city went into lockdown in March 2021 at the start of the big COVID outbreak.

I felt a bit socially awkward because I’m not used to having a lot of people around me during the pandemic. Things aren’t fully “back to normal” yet, so to speak, but the government has been easing restrictions gradually and has been conducting an effective nationwide vaccination campaign.

I’d been wanting to check out the store Dragon Music. It was open, but they had a bench/stool at the entrance to prevent people from coming into the store. They were friendly and accommodated me when I asked to browse inside briefly to check out what instruments they had, but I felt strange being the only customer in the shop with a makeshift barrier at the door, so I didn’t linger.

While some COVID restrictions remain in place, downtown Suva is busy again, now that the containment zones have been lifted on Viti Levu, Fiji’s main island. I got to reacquaint myself with the downtown as we walked through the streets.

We stopped by Jack’s of Fiji, my favorite local department store. We haven’t been shopping in ages, and I’d been craving a bit of retail therapy. I enjoy popping into Jack’s because they have excellent designs that are seasonally updated, with relatively low price points. There’s always at least one stylish item I’ll pick up when I’m in there, and this visit was no exception. It was fun to browse in the store again. Hubby and I took turns minding the dogs by the store’s entrance so we could both be at liberty to shop, one at a time. The dogs provided some free amusement for folks passing by.

At the end of our walk, we completed our loop through downtown with a last stop at the Dolphins Plaza food court, on the next block from Dragon Music, to get takeaway for lunch. We got some Chinese food and Indian food to go.

My favorite was the haul from Ji’s Hand-Pulled Noodles: thin beef slices, potato-sliver salad and pork dumplings. The beef slices were tender with plenty of umami from the marinade, and they complemented the potato salad nicely. This version of a potato salad uses shoestring potato slices with a texture that balances tender and crisp, and it’s coated in oil, making it savory. I liked the relatively thick wrapper on the pork dumplings (perfect finger food), and the filling was very flavorful (I’m thinking there was patisse mixed into the pork meat for a salty twist).

Our takeaway from the Indian food stall at the far end of the food court was also very tasty. I particularly enjoyed the vegetable samosa. The dough was crisp, and the inside was full of tender potato curry.

Lunch was delicious, and it was fun to get back out there again.

Activities become a treat when you’ve been away for a while and come back to get a taste of previous pleasures.

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