Trekking to heaven

Matokana Village is located on the hillside over the horizon. Picture: SIKELI QOUNADOVU

IMAGINE this, waking up early in the morning with the clouds on your feet.
And as the mist rests softly on the mountain peaks, like a cloth draped over a pillow, the sun’s ray tries to penetrate the clouds, as birds chirp from the canopy.
As you trek through tall, green grass wet with morning dew, there are so many valleys and glens that one could trudge across but the traveller cannot return the same way. This ancient land belongs to the people of Matokana.
It takes a good three-hour bumpy ride from Sigatoka Town via the Valley Rd to get off at the nearest feeder road known as Baravilevu. This is your first step when trekking to heaven.
Before you, is a scenic view of a countryside stretched like a great quilt of golden, brown and green squares held together by the thick green stitching of the luxuriantly and exuberant forest. The ridges and mountains rise and fall like giant waves on a gentle ocean and are dotted with animals. The countryside is a constant remionder that you are not apart from nature, but a part of it. For nature provides the air you breathe, in addition to food and medicine.
It takes a good seven and a half- hour trek to get to Matokana Village, a village isolated and located deep in the highlands of Navosa Province.
Matokana Village is closer to the Province of Serua than any other villages in the Nadroga/Navosa provinces.
“Keimami gunu na ulu ni wai na Sigatoka, kana na ulu ni wai na Navua. E cavu a tavioka mai Matokana e tei e Burenitu, Serua. (We drink water from the upper Sigatoka River and source fish from the Navua River. Tavioka can be uprooted from Matokana and then replanted in Burenitu, Serua).”
I have been on a lot of journeys —the longest being a five-hour hike to get to Nakida Village in the district of Nagonenicolo, Naitasiri but this one — to Matokana has got to be the most challenging one.
However, once you arrive at the village the multi-million dollar view is just breathtaking. You tend to forget all the pain and struggles of getting to the top, even at a time refusing to return to the hustle and bustle of city life.
From the school one can see the Sleeping Giant, Bukuya Village, the Nausori highlands and Mount Tomaniivi, at a distance. It’s a sight to behold, where heaven is just in front of your doorstep.
At Matokana, the villagers often say “if you have never been to Matokana, you have never been to Navosa”.
This is Navosa.