Savusavu, Fiji

Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Sat 16 Jun 2012 06:48
Savusavu is a strange place.  It is a tourist town, but there are relatively few intrepid tourists who venture over from the main island of Viti Levu, so primarily it is a port of entry for the large number of visiting yachts, most of which are doing the cruising circuit up from New Zealand. 
The town has only one shopping street, but it is a hive of activity during the day with many small stores, the majority run by people of Indian origin.  It is the cheapest place we have come to in the South Pacific, and in some cases astonishingly cheap.  For example Andrea has been buying dresses for $25 Fiji (about £9).  A local sim card for my phone was $5 (£2) and I can now call the UK, or anywhere else in the world, for about 8p a minute.  Various restaurants do yachtie menus for between £4 and £6.
We are waiting here to pick up Daniel, who joins us on Monday.  The original plan was to collect him on the main island of Viti Levu, but the wind has been blowing the wrong way for three days, and it would be a rush to get there in time, so he is flying over to join us here on Vanua Levu (at which point we will set off for Viti Levu).
Andrea and I went to a seminar given by "Curly", a local expert on sailing Fijian waters.  Curly produces "chartlets" with routes mapped out in GPS coordinates so we can get around with less chance of hitting a reef.  Curly also gave us some advice on the "sevusevu",  a ceremony we have to perform whenever we visit a village in Fiji so that we are accepted into their community.
The Fijian induction ceremony is structured around the giving/receiving of yangona (kava).  As a newcomer to a village we have to present a gift of a quarter of a kilo of yangona to the village chief, and have it accepted, before we are welcome on their land or in their anchorage.  In order to present the yangona to the chief we have to appoint a local person, preferably the mayor of the village, to speak on our behalf.  We also have to make sure we cover our legs, do not point our feet at the chief and do not wear sunglasses.  We must drink all the yangona we are offered, clapping once before drinking and three time afterwards.
We already had one yangona ceremony in Tonga.  The Tongan ceremony is slightly different from the Fijian one but fortunately, while the yangona does not taste very nice, it did not have any major narcotic effect on us.