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The real Fiji with Rebecca

November 17th, 2010 · No Comments

By now you all know my love hate relationship with airports, well I’m here waiting at the most laidback relaxed airport in the world when I see the “fire truck” creep forward till his bonnet is out of the shed, there’s a buzz in the air like a trapped bluebottle and out of the air drops down a little plane. It looks like a wind up machine, I know its not, and as lots of you will be able to tell me it’s a …….The door opens and out come the passengers bend almost double to prevent themselves from cracking their forehead, and there she is, Rebecca looking quite pale not from the flight but from the lack of sunlight.

The Captains Table (restaurant) serves a mean breakfast and we can start the catching up process.

After a couple of days here in Savusavu we sign out and head east, our first anchorage in Vianni Bay about forty miles, lots of reefs to go round, visibility is good and we can easily see them. Still can’t trust the GPS to be accurate, sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t with the plotter showing us sailing along the reef and even anchoring on dry land! The real anchor however lands in mud although later we can hear the chain on a coral bottom, but holding well. Vianni Bay, a community with no cars or 4x4s just dinghies and outboards, everything goes in by sea, there are no roads. Our first visitor is Jack Fisher, a quiet happy friendly local, he’s the unofficial yachtsman’s recreation officer he can take you for a dive, snorkel, organise walks ashore has the answer to everything and can probably organise anything. We had a wonderful snorkel and dive with him, seeing lots of coral and fish out on the reef.

The children in the school arrive by dinghy from the other side of the bay, or walk from their homes along the shore or up the valley. There are three teachers and 69 children in school. Friday afternoon this week was sports day, they had fun, football rugby volleyball netball all done with such enthusiasm they ran and ran all afternoon, while we sat sweating in the shade. Mums dads grans cheered on the sidelines, babies slept under the shade of a tree, dogs wondered about and everyone came and shook our hand and welcomed us into the village. The school here have very few resources, so when I arrived in the morning with a box of books, pencils and handwriting jotters they were thrilled. After the sports activities and before the young folk went home the head teacher asked me to say a few words, would have liked a bit of warning to gather my thoughts but the pupils listened and responded at the right time, seemed odd being called Madame though guess I’m no longer Miss.

We started a walk on our own and ended up with seven dogs and a lady who decided to become our guide, perhaps just as well, you can easily get lost in the bush. We stopped to chat at a house and were given a basin full of yellow cherry shaped tomatoes, cucumbers and pak choi.

The Fijian people are so generous. Sunday came and we went to church, basically in a lean to with a bit of fabric for decoration and to hide the posts, again they were so happy to see us and welcomed us with open arms. The only church I’ve been in where the village pigs and chickens run around during the service. Rebecca and I walked back on the beach. Half way back a lady comes out of her house and invites us in for lunch. We sit with them on the floor and are treated to a feast, it doesn’t matter that they don’t have the matching dinner service or the best table and chairs; they have happiness, family and open arms.

We leave Vainni bay and head off to Rabi Island, now this is one with some history, a Fijian island inhabited by Banabans, who are now citizens of Fiji, they have become a separate community, closed to tourists and accessible only by sporadic ship or the odd yachtie. Our first anchorage we are greeted in Gilbertese, mauri meaning hello, only five people live in this bay, living off the land and sea. We were the third yacht of the season, and it’s almost the end of season.

Second anchorage, again great welcome, and we walk to the next larger village, along the shore. We hear lots of noise and singing coming from a hall, there is a women’s group learning how to make coconut oil, encouraging them to produce the oil at home to give them an income. What a happy lot they were, but probably quite a handful for the teacher who had come from Suva for the week long course. When we asked in the little shop if there was anywhere we could have lunch, he said, “yes here,” so lunch, chicken curry, was made for us by the owner wife, they were pleased to show us that they had a generator and therefore the ability to have 24hour electricity, and non stop DVD films playing. On our walk back we were escorted by some school children, they had great fun making balloon music!

We thread our way though the reefs from Rabi to Taveuni, the garden island, here we are back to cars and buses and other tourists. We take the air conditioned bus down the east side of the island to the start of a waterfall walk.

From Taveuni we go back to Vanua Levu and into Fawn harbour, not easy to spot the reef pass but when you get there it’s quite wide and deep, we follow the dog leg passage in to the reasonable size lagoon and anchor. Here we meet up with a local lady who take us to the hot springs, just as well we had Sandra, there was no way you could go by yourself. The hot springs were what they say they were hot, the first pool being the hottest and so down to a cooler temperature where the spring water mixes with the cooler stream water, and all in wonderful dappled shade. If we had only taken a picnic. Sandra’s son, Gary, who was home from school for the weekend, and another younger lad Wayne, came out to sail on Mouse our wee sailing dinghy. You can see it’s not only the under twenties that enjoy Mouse. From Fawn Harbour we return to Savusavu where Rebecca catches her plane for the long trip home.

This eastern side of Fiji has been so much fun, for lots of reasons, the people are extremely friendly and happy to help, not looking at us as economic opportunities, as is the case in so many other places, and we had Rebecca with us, which makes any trip special for us. We are very lucky to have had a glimpse into the real Fijian way of life.

Tags: Friends & Family · Pacific Leg