Wednesday, July 11, 2007


HOME is where the heart is and this aptly describes a teenager who just cannot be away for long from his island home town, Levuka.
For Duke Bryson, there is no feeling of comfort and peace when he is away from the old capital and said it was the same for all those who were born and bred in Levuka.
In typical Levuka dialect of mixed Fijian and English, Duke relayed his experience as a young boy looking after the welfare of guests in a lodge in Levuka.
Duke works at Mary's Lodge, a bed and breakfast accommodation on Beach Street.
He describes himself as very entertaining, confident and likes meeting people.
No wonder the 19-year-old lad makes sure that all guests at the lodge are looked after in the most special way and that their stay in the old capital will leave a lasting impression on their minds.
Duke grew up in Levuka and attended Levuka Public School.
He was in Suva for some time but said something kept telling him to go back to Levuka.
Because of the love for his island and girlfriend who is also from Levuka, he decided that he would follow his heart.
Duke starts his day preparing breakfast for the guests, while it not may be continental or English, what Duke prepares is just so homely and simple and a true reflection of a typical Fijian breakfast.
"I'm not the main man who does all the breakfast here. My aunts cook, fry and toast but I am there to help and make sure that everyone in the lodge gets to have theirs," Duke said.
He would be the first one you meet in the corridor setting up the table, nothing fancy, just enough to impress everyone. "Breakfast is usually buttered toast, banana and boiled egg or parale (pancakes)." Duke said some tourists liked parale because it was simple and tasty.
He said they served breakfast in the front lounge to allow people to watch the waves crash into the seawall and breath the fresh morning breeze from the sea.
Apart from preparing meals, Duke sees that the floors are mopped and in true Fijian style, he makes sure all guests take off their shoes at the door.
"I do the sweeping and mopping and make sure that the furnitures are in place in the rooms as well as in the lounge," he said.
"It may not be the kind of work that most 19-year-olds would love to do but I can say that I enjoy every minute of the work I do.
"Even when I clean the toilets and scrub the bathrooms I enjoy it because I know people would love to come to the lodge if it is clean and tidy.
"I enjoy being busy doing something worthwhile.
"There were opportunities for me to continue my studies but I really just wanted to be in Levuka and be with my girlfriend."
Duke said it was important for him to be friendly to all visitors who entered the lodge.
"I make sure I talk to them in a respectable way and make them feel at home," he said.
Duke said he would love to join the school of hotel and catering in the future and expand his knowledge and skills in the hospitality industry.
"If I join catering school and when I complete my training, I'd love to come back to Levuka and continue to work in an environment that is relaxed and laid-back like the old capital," he said.