We’ve been ‘stuck’ in Fiji for an extra week but we don’t expect any sympathy 😉 We had hoped to leave this beautiful country mid last week so that we’d have a week or two to spend in Vanuatu. When we checked the weather for the three night passage, it looked great – except for a low pressure system forecasted to form over Vanuatu on Sunday (this past weekend). We were smart not to leave, as the system formed as predicted and it would have been very ugly to be caught at sea or even in the exposed anchorage on Tanna, the island where we are headed.
Why the rush to leave Fiji? Well, we want to be in Australia by November 1st. To stick to this plan, we should be in Noomea, New Caledonia, in the first week of October. This will give us enough time to wait for a good weather window to cross the Coral Sea, the last offshore leg of our adventure across the Pacific!
The most interesting thing we did during this extra time in Fiji was go inland for a night – not something you do often when your life revolves around the water. We slept on solid land for the first time since March in the village of Abaca in the hills above Lautoka. What an experience!
The small village (84 people) participates in an eco-tourism program. A bouncy 45 minute ride in a 4×4 gets you up there at which point you are paired with a host family. The experience was not even remotely touristy, but rather a glimpse into Fijian history and tradition.
The sources of income for the village people are the eco-tourism program and money earned on Saturdays when the women go to the market in Lautoka to sell vegetables and roots. Meanwhile on Saturdays, the men go pig hunting with dogs and two meter long spears. Sounds like fun. As far as we could tell, almost everything is home-grown, except rice and black tea.
We really enjoyed walking around the village and meeting everyone. As always, the kindness of the people was astounding. Will had an interesting encounter with a not-so-friendly horse, but luckily didn’t get bucked off. I certainly would have been. Sarah, our hostess, and her family thought it was hilarious.
We ate three meals prepared by Sarah and her sister in law, Andi, on a mat in the house of her brother in law. Wives marry into the village, and all daughters marry out. For dinner we ate rice, sticky buns, and tuna. Breakfast was roti, pumpkin curry, and sweet buns, and our last meal (lunch) was rice, dhal soup, taro leaves with coconut milk, and sticky buns. It’s a high starch diet.
The seven rounds of kava at the sevu sevu didn’t affect us at all, although the locals all seemed to really feel it. In a sevu sevu you can ask for a ‘high tide’, ‘medium tide’, or ‘low tide’ bowl of kava. Or – if you’re feeling thirsty – a ‘tsumani’ sized pour. As soon as one package of kava was finished, another, larger one, was opened. We made our exit at that point, knowing the drinking would go on until the early morning.
We’re back onboard Hydroquest, in the marina, thoroughly appreciating her clean and hygienic comforts, but happy to have had the opportunity to see a different way of life.
Tomorrow morning we leave for Vanuatu – the island of Tanna, home to the active volcano Mt. Yasur! We’re checking out at 6:30am in order to make the 460nm crossing in only three nights. Back to sea again!