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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

June 18 - 25 The Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon is absolutely beautiful! It is actually an area, not just one lagoon. We anchored at the island of Nanuya Lailai where the original Blue Lagoon movie, starring Jean Simmons, was filmed. Just in front of us was a fairly new resort called "Nanuya Island Resort" whose restaurant is excellent, and features a lobster dish nearly every night for around F$28 (roughly US$12). A local family lives a few hundred yards to the west and is known to host the yachties. Va, the matriarch, and Tui, her nephew, provide a safe place for dinghies to land, trash service, and a general "connection" with locals. They are also known for their Lovo feasts. In fact their family had owned the island and the adjacent one, Nanuya Levu, which was purchased in 1972 by an American, Richard Evanson. He built a very exclusive resort there called Turtle Island Resort. I mention this for several reasons; you have to be approved to stay at Turtle Island Resort, it is one of the most expensive resorts in Fiji where the rich and famous go, the entire island is restricted to guests only, it employs 160 local Fijians to serve 28 guests, it is a turtle reserve, and every year a group of California eye specialists convert the place into a clinic for locals to receive eye surgery and recycled RX glasses for free. The part about being a turtle reserve is important because every day we see local fishermen come by with dead sea turtles in the bottom of their boats. It is heartbreaking that there is no law against the harvesting of these precious creatures here. Turtle Island is where the Brooke Shields version of The Blue Lagoon was filmed. The movie, "Return to The Blue Lagoon" wasn't made here at all, rather it was filmed over on the island of Tavenui.

We were happy to see our Kiwi friends, Russ and Florence ("Vivacious") were here and made plans to get together later in the week, as they were just leaving on the ferry to pick up family members from the mainland. The first night we went into the resort for dinner with ML and TDM. Then we went to meet Tui and Va. Tui explained that we were to offer some kind of sevu-sevu (which surprised us b/c we were told this is only expected when a chief is present), and after that is done we were welcome to walk the island, etc., etc. He also took our reservation for a Lovo the next evening. A Lovo feast is cooked in the ground under layers of canvas-type cloth and palm leaves. This Lovo was incredibly good, featuring a whole red snapper, chicken that was so tender it just fell apart, cassava, fresh baked bread, green salad, sliced cucumbers, "spinach" (cooked taro leaves) and fresh fruits. It was incredibly delicious and all for F$15 p/p. Afterward, Tui walked us down the beach to an area where he had built a gigantic bonfire just for us.

We spent several days at Blue Lagoon, walking the island and swimming, hiking over the top to the backpacker resorts on the other side and just generally taking it easy. Christine and Jaime (ML) left us to head back to the US for a visit, and after a few more days, Glen and Sally (TDM) ventured north with us to swim the limestone caves at Sawa-i-lau.

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