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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

“Fiji 411"

Fiji is comprised of two major islands, Viti Levu, ("Great Fiji") is the largest island, Vanua Levu, ("Big Land") the second largest, then a third smaller island, Tavenui, followed by island Groups, such as The Yasawas, the Lau Group and so on. Musket Cove is on a very small island called Malolo Lailai in the Mamanuka group. In order to move around in Fiji we may not always go via Destiny, because in order to do so we must have a permit from and to each island or group we wish to take her. For trips into town on the main islands there are other means of travel.

Monday morning we took the one-hour ferry ride with Marsha and Earl, whose yacht is "Mahurangi", to Denarau Island. We stopped for lunch at the Hard Rock Café – can you even believe this? Then from there we took a cab over to Nadi (pronounced "Nandi"), which is actually on the main island of Viti Levu. The two are connected by a bridge – much like Galveston to the Texas mainland. Anyway in order not to complicate this – I won't get into geography. If you look at a map of Fiji you will get the general idea.

Nadi is a larger version of a dirt street village with loads of souvenir shops, including the clothing stores (just like many towns in Mexico), and with a very large Indian influence. Our main objectives were to get: 1) Cash from the ATM, 2) detailed local cruising maps, 3) Kava root, 4) fresh fruits and vegetables, and 5) lightweight dresses and apparel for visiting the villages. Women are forbidden to wear shorts, short skirts, and swimsuits in the villages. Men should wear long pants or "Sulu". You are also expected to remove hats and sunglasses when addressing a local, and we are advised that backpacks, shoulder bags and cameras should be carried in the hand – not slung over the shoulders or worn on the back – out of respect. The rule of thumb is you cannot be too conservative. We were also advised to stock up on cigarettes to hand out to village leaders and chiefs. Aye! I am not happy to be promoting lung cancer especially since it was so difficult for me to quit smoking! But when in Fiji…

The boys set off for the bank and the map store while Marsha and I tried on dresses and skirts. Then we all ventured to the market, which is an open-air market such as we have attended in many other countries except that this was a bit of a surprise to Frank and I as first time visitors. Clearly one half of this gargantuan market was dedicated to the selling of and consumption of Kava! We have been advised many times over of the importance of purchasing the proper amount and type of Kava for presentation to the Big Chiefs. This is serious business indeed! It was really kind of creepy for Marsha and I because there were aisles and aisles of booths, with toothless men and women sitting among mounds of Kava Root, pounding it into powder, wrapping and weighing bundles of the stuff, while mixing and drinking the noxious substance. Most of them sat around with blank stares – rather stoned stares, or smiling deviantly at us as we stumbled about wondering where the heck Frank and Earl got to. Eventually we found them, still back toward the main entrance happily drinking free samples of this gawd-awful brown sludge. They were beginning to develop the same goofy look of the locals. Marsha and I were so distracted by them that we left without purchasing a single parcel of food.

Eventually we made our way back to Denarau where Marsha and I parked the boys back at the Hard Rock Café and sought out a local bakery, small (indoor) grocery, ice cream shop and whatnot, paying much higher prices but preferring the cleanliness of this to Nadi. We will go back another time for a trip to the temples and tourist attractions and to sample the local flavor of the indigenous foods.

Today is Thursday. I don't know where the time goes. We have just really enjoyed hanging out by the pool, hiking around the little island here and having dinner with friends from the other boats. It is so lovely here that we wish we could share it with those we love and we think of you all often. We are awaiting news of the arrival of our nephew's baby, which should be any day now. Internet is still hit and miss. Some days we have a great connection and other times none at all, or sketchy at best. The Sat phone is hit and miss. Today the Skype was working so we talked to our folks on the phone, called my daughter and sis and a couple of friends – made contact with some, left a few voicemails on some and not on others but felt good that we tried. Although we buy cell phone SIM cards in the local country, it is so expensive to call, and we do not always have access to internet/Skype. So we grab what we can get when we get it. I still marvel at how much of life we took for granted back there where everything is so convenient. We remind ourselves as often as possible that life is about much more than that! WE are getting to experience the REAL world - the USA is just a Fantasy compared to so many other countries and cultures.

Tonight we will have Sundowner over on Warm Rain. Tomorrow – who knows?! We are still asking for prayers for our group of friends still trying to make the crossing from New Zealand to Fiji. Our trip was an easy 7 ½ days. They have all been going at it for 8 days now and due to rotten weather and seas are still 3-5 days out, and of the group one boat has already met a tragic fate. We appreciate any good and kind thoughts you will send their way.

Well as I am about to post this Frank just received word that Jeff and Erin had baby Logan yesterday - on Jeff's birthday. Congrats you two. Erin, I know you were way past ready to have that little guy in your arms.
while at sea: (note:the sender must include the character sequence "//WL2K" in the subject line of the message.)
Skype ID: frank.barb.gladney

1 comment:

Judy and Bill aboard S/V BeBe said...

Sorry we never met your new friends Marsha & Ed on S/V MAHURANGI. Their boat was berthed in the slip next to us at Gulf Harbour Marina for 3 1/2 months of the 4 months we were there. Previous owners Tom and Christine worked very, very hard to get MAHURANGI in tip-top condition before they sold her to Marsha & Ed.

Hope you and Frank continue to enjoy great experiences in Fiji.