Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bula! Fiji—Part 1

Lily on our passage to Fiji.  This girl loves a good rope.
I know, I know... all I kept talking about when I was in Tonga was how excited I would be to have wi-fi at my fingertips once I reached Fiji.  That meant that I could post often and with reckless abandon.  Well, we have been here six days and no posts.  The truth is, that I have been so caught up with having wi-fi that I have spent my time mindlessly reading blogs that I haven't read in months.  I have spent endless hours catching up on email, looking and re-looking at Instagram and Skyping my family like mad.  What I haven't done is post.  Sorry folks, it's just been this huge fire hose of internet insanity and I haven't been able to get to my poor, neglected blog.  Apologies are certainly in order.

First things first.  When we arrived in Fiji last Thursday, we were met by this spectacular sunset.

Once we arrived in Fiji, we went straight to Lautoka where we cleared customs.  Then we headed for Port Denarau (which is about 16 miles away) where we had an appointment to get our generator fixed at the marina.  AMARA's generator had clunked out on us in Tonga—which meant we couldn't use the washer/dryer or the dishwasher until it was fixed.  I know, no sob stories here, but when you are used to living with it and then it's gone, you miss it.  And boy did we miss them!

Needless to say, once we arrived at the marina and plugged into shore power (meaning we didn't need the generator), Sue and I went to town washing everything we could get our hands on.  In Sue's words, "If it can flap in the wind, we're washing it."  After that, we washed down the boat and got AMARA up and back to her old self in no time.

One thing that we have especially enjoyed about shore power is air-conditioning.  I haven't felt cool air on me since St. Maarten and it has been a special little treat for us as it has been quite hot here in Fiji.  I may get a little teary when I watch them unplug us tomorrow when we leave.  In fact, I may make a scene and embarrass the whole lot.

*  *  *

While checking into customs last week, Martin had a little time on his hands waiting for David on shore to clear us through so he went down to where the fishing boats were bringing in their catches for the day.  He was taking a few snapshots of all the Yellow Fin tuna coming off the boats when he struck up a conversation with one of the drivers (who was trucking the tuna over to the plant) and the driver offered to take him over to the plant so he could have a look around the place.  Of course, Martin is never one to pass up an opportunity like this, so he jumped in and headed for the fish factory.
Hauling the large Yellow Fin tuna off the boat.
Once Matin arrived at the plant, he was met by Samuel (the manager) who was kind enough to take Martin on a private tour of the plant.  Only Martin can swing these types of things.  I always laugh when he tells me about his latest adventure.  His famous words to me are always, "You just have to ask!"  I guess he's right.  He had a great time touring the fish factory.

*  *  *

Last weekend we decided that we wanted to get away from the marina while AMARA's generator was getting repaired.  It seemed like the perfect time for us to get out and explore.  So, we decided to go on a tour of the main island.  We rented a car and headed for the capital city, Suva, and decided that we were going to go to the LDS (Mormon) Fiji temple which is located there.

The road to Suva was not in the best of shape and every so often a cow or a horse would appear on the side of the road from nowhere.  Plus we had the added bonus that in Fiji they drive on the left-hand side of the road with the steering wheel on the right side (opposite than back home).  Then throw in torrential rains and it made the three hour drive a nail-biting experience to say the least.
All the way to Suva we would follow these trucks with stacks of sugar cane strapped to them.  
Every so often, while Martin was driving, I would say to him, "Cow."  Or "Your hugging my side of the road." Or "pothole."  Martin was very patient with me and would thank me for my superior driving instructions rather than scold me for being a backseat driver (which is silly because I was sitting in the front seat-in what should have been the driver's side-while yelping out instructions).

Finally we made it to our destination, which was a sight for sore eyes.
The LDS Fiji Temple located in Suva.
The only problem was that we got there at 6:30 and it had closed at 6:00.  So we ended up going to dinner and calling it a night.
We ended up being the only ones in the restaurant which Martin loved and left me questioning the quality of the food.  It actually ended up being a really good meal.  Whew!
The next day, we got up early and headed back to the temple and then we took turns watching Lily in the reception area, while one of us went inside (Children aren't allowed inside the temple).
We loved that when we drove up to the temple, there was a rainbow waiting there to welcome us.
*  *  *
After attending the temple in Suva, we decided to head back to Port Denarau and try to catch the 2:00pm ferry out to Musket Cove (which is completely on the other side of the island) and join in on the regatta and activities that were happening on that island.

Each year, all the "yachties" gather at Musket Cove for a week of fun activities and good food.   Since AMARA was back at the marina getting repaired, the ferry would have to do and we decided to just stay at the resort for the night which is also located on the island.
Taking the ferry to Musket Cove.
Lily couldn't wait to get in the pool, but stayed on the side
 for awhile watching the other children play.
She was in heaven.
*  *  * 

After enjoying our time on Musket Cove, we headed back to Port Denarau and got back to work doing more laundry and then provisioning the boat.   I joined David and Sue at the outdoor market as I am always amazed at what is being sold.
David and Sue checking out the goods at the market.
They take their food displays very seriously here.
Buying our Yaqona (Kava root) in the market. 
While at the market, we purchased the "Kava root" as it is required to be able to enter into a village as a welcoming gift to the chief.  Since we will be visiting quite a few villages during our travels through Fiji, it was time to stock up and be ready.  

Kava is kind of an informal peace pipe and is used as an offering to the villages' chief.  It is usually followed by a Kava ceremony where we are asked if we would like to participate.  Since it is a bit of mild narcotic, we will have to respectfully decline.   Many of the cruisers though do take part in the ceremony and the ceremony goes a little bit like this...  First, you present the Kava root to the village's executive head who then presents it to the chief.  When entering the room the oldest man is asked to enter, followed by the other males and then the women enter last.  All participants in the ceremony should be dressed modestly and should be wearing a traditional sulu (sarong).  During the ceremony, everyone is sitting as the Kava root is pounded, ground and then strained through a cloth into a large wooden bowl.  The chief is first offered the drink, and then the village's executive head.  After they have been offered the Kava, it is then offered to all the men in the room and lastly to the women.  When the cup of Kava is offered to a recipient, the recipient cups his/her hands and claps and then says, "Bula!" Then the recipient takes a gulp while clapping three more times and ending by saying, "Mathe."

I have heard from other cruisers that it tastes like muddy water and requires an acquired taste.  For me, I am glad that we will just decline the ceremony because if you know me, having to share my glass with anyone other than Lily gives me the "willies."  

*  *  *  
We plan to leave Port Denarau tomorrow and head over to Taveuni which is in the east side of Fiji and is known for it's amazing dive sights.  We will spend around a week over in that area and then head west to the Yasawa islands (where Blue Lagoon and Castaway were filmed and are considered more "touristy.")

Here's hoping for more internet along the way!