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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Discovering the Yasawas - June 2009

On June 15th we made a rough and rolly passage up to the island of Naviti, to a place called Nanuya Balavu - noted for its attraction to swim with the manta rays. Unfortunately the swell and high winds were on the increase causing us severe pitching and so after several recons around the bay, our little group of three resigned to leave the area hoping to have an opportunity to return on a better day. We continued onward to Somo Somo, a more protected (yet still rolly) bay, presenting a long, inviting white sandy beach and large coral heads all around us beckoning us to snorkel and swim to shore. We found the snorkeling here to be among the best we'd seen. The vibrant colors of both fish and reef were outstanding. The uninhabited beach was littered with shells and so we treasure-hunted. While Sally, Christine and I walked the beach the boys followed the trail to the other side of the island in search of the spot rumored to be great snorkeling of a WWII plane crash. They returned a few hours later to report that after quite a challenging hike they found the site of the wreck out in the water in front of a large homestead of an aging Fijian couple. They also reported that we would not want to make the trek without lots of bug repellant and formidable shoes. Because it was getting late in the day we postponed the adventure for another day. In the evening a Fijian man in a kayak approached Glen and Sally's boat telling them that we were expected to offer sevu sevu to the Turaga ni Koro in the next bay over before going to shore and swimming in these waters. OOPS!

So the next day, the six of us piled into our dinghy and went into the village. It was a much longer and rougher ride than expected, and by the time we got to shore we were all soaked! Thank goodness the Kava was tucked away in large plastic bags. We traipsed through the village, handing out candy and gum to the dancing children following us along shouting, "Bula, bula!" We were amazed to find that this was a very large and nicely maintained village - much more so than others we'd seen. We were taken to a fairly nice home with a large den, with a rug and pillow-covered concrete floor. At one end was an alter type setup on top of a table, and as we were invited to sit (in a circle) were asked to leave plenty of room around that area. This is where the chief sits. The chief was a woman named Adi (pron Andi). She prayed over the kava and gave us her blessing and welcome - all in Fijian. Then her daughter, Koro invited us back to the village that night for a performance by the locals. After we all agreed she informed us that we were to pay $100 for the six of us. Neophytes snared in the tourist trap!! Leaving the house we were asked to step over to a covered area where the women had set up a crafts market. We bought a small war mask, a shell and a necklace and then returned to the anchorage to move our boats into the bay in front of the village. There was no way we could return at night in the dinghy through those waters. After moving the yachts over, several fishermen came along selling lobsters and asking for fuel and cigarettes. We bought two very large lobsters for F$10 each. What a bargain! After dinner we went into the village for the show, which was quite good and very similar to the two others we'd attended (at Musket Cove & The Octopus). In the morning, the locals continued to swarm us asking for supplies, but for nothing in return. We had been warned about this - that they would feed on your sympathy and sense of pity, begging off of yachties but that we should not indulge them. So instead of worrying about offending anyone we moved the boats back over to the uninhabited bay. By the time we got over there, however, it was once again too late to make the hike over to the sunken plane crash, so we just snorkeled around and then called it an early night.

The next morning we took off for The Blue Lagoon - the famed site of the 3 movies.

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