By Patricia Page
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Additional info for Across the Magic Line: Growing Up in Fiji
Joyce’s cousins joined us there and we built ‘cubbies’ and ‘shops’ from bits of wood, bottles and boxes. We had pet geckos — funny little lizards with pads at the end of each toe. If we found neglected gecko’s eggs we put them in matchboxes lined with cotton wool and waited for the babies to hatch. I liked Joyce’s cousins because they were just as protective of the geckos as we were. Most of the boys I’d known until then pulled off their tails (they had the distinctive quality of being able to grow them again, but it was still horrible to see), trod on frogs, tore off cicadas’ wings.
One of our visits was to the giant sand dunes at the mouth of the Sigatoka River and on another we followed the river up into the mountains: home of the most ferocious hill tribes in Viti Levu, devourers of the Reverend Barker, the only missionary killed in Fiji. ‘Daddy took us for a lovely nine mile drive. Half way 44 Across the Magic Line we climbed a hill. From the top we could see a lovely view of the furtile valley below. ’ We also visited Korotogo, just past Sigatoka on the way to Suva and well-known for its spectacular reef.
And of toddler Gay running along the beach towards me, little fists held out frosted with sand, which she’d open with slow triumph on the smelly treasures within. Everyone collected shells. Proud displays were in corners of people’s homes. They were made into lamps and encrusted table tops. During the war trade in them boomed. There were trochus shells for buttons and cat’s eyes American GIs took home as jewellery. A cat’s eye was actually the lid of a shell which polished up to a swirl of white, dark green and brown, hence the name.