19 September 2006

Vanua Levu, Fiji

  • Mooring Ball
  • Savusavu, Vanua Levu Island
  • Fiji Islands Northern Group
  • Fiji, South Pacific
  • 16°46.6000"S/179°20.0000"E
Wednesday morning here on the old s/v Sandpiper, and it is raining. In fact, it has been raining since last night. We are still in Savusavu, our first stop in Fiji. We've been trying to leave here for 3 days now. We've been set back due to boat projects, fuel and water fill ups, and now..Weatherer.

Since arriving here last Friday we have immersed ourselves in all the town has to offer. The town is small. It has one main drag with lots of shops, markets, and restaurants. I've been to some sort of store everyday now. Savusavu is made up of half Fijians, and the other half Indians. So there is lots of good curry in town.

Last month I made an attempt at cutting Tom's hair. He got it fixed yesterday by an Indian barber for $2.50 Fijian, which is about only $1.40 USD. He is now sporting a nice close shave. Looks good.

We are hoping to leave here tomorrow and head through some pretty water and small villages. Last night we attended a lecture on the proper way to address a village using kava root. Kava root is a type of pepper plant. The locals drink it, with the village chief, as part of a traditional welcoming ceremony to their village. Kava looks like mud, and because it is part of the pepper family of plants, it numbs your lips and throat after drinking it.

The proper way to partake in a Kava ceremony is to clap once before you drink, and then clap three times with everyone in your circle after you drink. Not quite sure if we will be stopping in a village small enough to partake in such a ceremony. But it's good knowledge to have, as it is important to do it correctly.

Tonight we will attend another lecture on the routes through the waters of Fiji. Tom mentioned earlier about all the islands and reefs that are around here. So it is extremely important we sail this area with caution. The route we have planned takes us out of Savusavu, through a narrow pass, around a bunch of reefs, across Bligh Waters, then zig-zagging through a couple hundred miles of treacherous reefs. The lectures are given by 'Curly', a Kiwi (someone that hails from New Zealand) who has lived here for more than 30 years. So he knows all the ins and outs of the Fiji waters. 'Curly' does a local net on the VHF radio everyday informing all cruisers on everything from the weather, to dinner specials.

A few random thoughts before I check out:

Back in Bora Bora we met another S/V Sandpiper. Peter and Margaret, who hail from the U.K. So we are officially now known as s/v Sandpiper U.S.

Tom purchased the Sandpiper some 8 years ago from his friends Matt and Julie. Included in the purchase of the boat was a hand carved tribal mask which is mounted in our galley. Since our cruising adventure started almost one year ago, we have continued to purchase masks from as many stops along the way as possible. We never knew the origin of this mask. But since setting foot in Fiji, we see many that look similar being sold at the markets. So when we came home, we unscrewed the mask from its long standing position. Sure enough, it says 'Made in Fiji'. All this time, and we had no idea. So now we wonder if the Sandpiper has been here before?

The proper way to say hello in Fiji is "Bula" (boo-la). So we would like to give a big Bula to Charlie back in Indianapolis, Indiana, and to Frank in Tucson, Arizona. Both are big fans of our blog. Thanks for being such dedicated readers.

Love to all,
Amy and Tom

Notes From Ron: Fiji is deeply divided ethnically between the native Fijians and the Indo-Fijians. Underneath what seems like an idilic South Pacific island nation is a potentially violent stew of ethnic violence. This divide has been the source of a lot of political tension, which resulted in military coups in 1987. Here is a brief and interesting article from Frommers that describes the people of Fiji and how different they are from each other.

Living here in Australia, one becomes aware of the potential for problems in Fiji. This is because if Fiji explodes, the Aussies and Kiwis will be most likely to have to send in armed forces to control the sitution. So they are keeping a sharp eye on Fiji, and strive to prevent it from descending into anarchy like other Melanesian nations have done recently (eg. The Soloman Islands).

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