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Sunday, June 13, 2010

June 4 - 7, 2010 - Albert Cove, Rabi, Fiji

I awoke to Frank dancing around telling me Happy Birthday! I was thinking, "is it my birthday already?" He gave me a sweet card and a beaded necklace as we had our breakfast and then we along with "Northern Winds" left for Albert cove. We had a wonderful 4-hour sail over to the island of Rabi and when we arrived at Albert Cove, Bill from "IQ" came out in his dinghy to lead us through the reef pass. After we got anchored, Frank and Bill went to shore to meet the local family and to ask permission for us to have a BBQ on their beach that night, then went around to the other boats to tell them we were having a potluck on the beach for my birthday. The group was "Scallywag", "Just In Time", "Ivory Quays" and "Northern Winds".
We went into the beach a little early to visit the local family and to take them some kava. This precious family immediately touched our hearts! There were two men, a woman and a young boy. Their smiles were as wide as the Grand Canyon. They spoke little English but were able to communicate with us quite well. They are originally from Tuvalu, another S. Pacific Island Country that is "sinking", but were relocated to Fiji when it was no longer safe to stay in their home village. They are very attractive people, dark-skinned and with lovely silky hair. They immediately invited us into their home, which is little more than a thatched roof covering an area of palm frond pallets on the floor used for sitting and sleeping, and an outdoor area of dirt that has been cleared and covered with woven palm mats. She was busily weaving baskets and filling them with limes for each of us. The men wanted to prepare kava for our guys. They told us about surviving the cyclone of this past season. They had run to a cave and hidden while the storms ravaged the island. The high winds and flooding destroyed literally everything they had; all of their crops including the kava and indigenous fruit trees such as bananas, pineapple bushes and papaya (paw-paw), their homes and cisterns were swept away or mangled beyond repair. Yet here they were sharing what little they had with us, and preparing the kava we had brought them to serve to our group. We invited them to participate in our little dinner party. As the rest of our cruiser friends arrived, they said, "We thought Barb's birthday is tomorrow". Frank said, "No it's today, June 5th". They all laughed telling Frank that today is June 4th! We both felt like idiots. Frank had been going by the date on his laptop, which is set on UTC time, and according to the World Clock it was June 5th somewhere in the world. Well we had a good laugh over that one and partied on anyway. We invited the family to join us. They built a large bonfire and contributed a huge bowl of tapioca - cassava root. They quickly built a long serving table by pounding sturdy tree limbs into the ground and then laying a big piece of corrugated metal on top, covered with palm branches. We had a great party!
The next day we conspired to take care packages to our new island family. Frank and I packed up rice, sugar, flour, hard candy, canned goods, hats and shirts. When we took our goodies in to them they were so excited they could hardly sit still. The lady excitedly weaved headbands for each of us gals as the men attempted desperately to share some kava with the guys. We politely waved off and returned to our yachts.
Jock and Leanne (JIT) came by to wish me Happy Birthday and invited everyone to have a "proper" party on their cat that night after dinner. So once again, we all donned our party smiles and went over for a night of merrymaking. Jock cranked up the i-Pod and as the evening progressed we were all singing and dancing and laughing until our guts hurt.
We had intended to leave the next morning but few in the group felt well enough to travel. Our next destination is a full day sail on the open ocean. It is times like this that I'm happy I gave up drinking, although I must say I envied the abandon with which some of this group partied last night. The day was spent being lazy. I used it to finish a Diana Gabaldon novel that Kim had loaned me which had me pretty well hooked. We had intended to snorkel, but the lazy bones got us.
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