Tagimoucia in full bloom. Inset:The rare flower up close ... a tear glistens in the light.
The tagimoucia plant only grows in the volcanic and cold region high up in the range of mountains on Taveuni.
The rare wild flower only blooms between the months of October and February and can be found nowhere else in the world.
It is only found around the volcanic crater in the middle of the island and takes about four to six hours to reach along a track that is called the Tagimoucia track.
It begins from the town of Naqara near Somosomo Village and departure time is always in the early hours of morning to avoid the heat.
My journey started with a welcoming kava session that lasted until three on Wednesday morning.
This was followed by a short three hour sleep before my alarm went off at six that morning, for the start of climb to 823 metres above sea level, to the Tagimoucia Lake, huffing and puffing all the way up to the top.
To forget the pain, my mind wondered to the story of the big bad wolf and how he huffed and puffed down the first two houses he came across.
I felt I could do with that much strength, at the same time cursing the late welcoming kava session. There was the thought of my grog partners still in the comfort of their beds. Man, I never learn.
But it is something about enduring pain and lack of sleep when the locals speak of a journey. For when they speak of a great journey, they are referring to the hiccups they overcome which would make it a memorable one. Something that will be remembered and cherished for the way they handled it, just as I suffered that day.
All thoughts of legendary figures and biblical heros kept appearing in my mind as I looked for comfort. Half way up on our climb towards Tagimoucia Lake with a camera bag that weighed about 8kg, I focused on the biblical description of the angel of death. His story is in the book of Revelations, "He who sits on the pale horse is death, and Hell follows Him."
The only thing that followed me was pain, nausea and a gut shattering feeling.
Sometimes it can push you to the edge of sanity. we went on until we reached the top of the mountain, at a point called Rai-rai-Dreketi where heaven seems to open its doors. It's there that you get the feeling that the breathtaking scenes of the garden island of Fiji can kiss every pain away. It gave me a totally different experience to savour for the rest of my life.
Below us was the beauty of Taveuni. Its aqua green waters and landscape can sooth every aching muscle in your body.
We later walked on towards Drano-(lagoon) the volcanic crater at the centre of the island, which every river feeds off. This is the home of the legendary flower, the tagimoucia.
Seeing a few flowers, the first thing to do was to prove the legend behind the tagimoucia and its tears.
The moment we broke a few, there were tiny tears streaming down from within the flowers.
As legend suggests, they are the tears of a princess who sort the comfort of the tree as she ran from her village folks. The trees hid her, sharing her pain as well. And the tears are the reminder of those final moments.
Her name was Princess Uluiqalau. And the choice of her place of death was beautiful.
The coolness that rose from deep within the crater revived our energy that we totally forgot the fatigue and pain of the past few hours. On our backs we looked up to the sky. There would never be a better place to set your spirits free. We lay on the cold hard surface on the side of the crater almost falling off to sleep. It felt like home.
Love and sorrow
www.fijitimes.com - Jone Luvenitoga Sunday, January 10, 2010
The significant part about the legend of the tagimoucia is in its name, says Tui Somosomo Viliame Mudu. The tagimoucia, he says, is a shortened version of its original name which is tagi - (cry or to feel someone's pain) mo - (so you) ucui - (understand for this particular event) au - (me). He says there is a story of sorrow and pain behind the flower.
"It's more like a curse she (a princess) cast on hunters who were tracking her through the bush as she made her escape from the man she was betrothed to," Mr Mudu said.
The tagimoucia, he says, is a symbol of broken love and pain.
For the runaway princess, the track that leads to Tagimoucia Lake would have resembled the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem - the way of sorrows.
She had escaped into the jungle, and had hidden herself from the hunters. As they approached her, she held onto the trunks of the tree for comfort and whispered her final words, "I want them to feel my pain."
They were words she kept repeating before the jungle engulfed her and hid her from her trackers. And as her tears fell on the ground and on the branches of the trees, a flower grew from every tear.
As her final wish was granted, her body bonded to the trees forever. And the rare tagimoucia flowers still carry those hurtful moments.
For years he said different stories had been heard of the flower. "Others may have their own story to tell, but this I heard from my late father."