Friday 2nd November 2012 - Savusavu and Eastward with Dodgy Charts to a Beautiful Anchorage - Part 2

Jon & Carol Dutton
Fri 2 Nov 2012 05:13


Thursday was the 1st November.  That meant a bit of a lie-in because the Ensign now goes up at 0900 rather than 0800 and doesn’t revert to the earlier time until after 14th February – not that anyone hereabouts would know the difference.  High water was at around 0900 and so at around 1100 we dinghied ashore to the village to pay our respects to the local village chief.  We took with us our traditional gift of kava roots (bought in the Savusavu market) gift-wrapped, as is again traditional, in newspaper in preparation for the welcoming ceremony known as Sevusevu – which is not to be confused, of course, with Savusavu.  When doing this stuff you need to bear a few things in mind:

            Wearing sunglasses or a hat in the village is disrespectful to the chief

            Women must cover their knees and shoulders and it is respectful for men to do as well

            Wearing shoes inside any building is very impolite

            So is sitting with your legs stretched out in front of you.

            So are a couple of other things.


                                                    First, embark bearing gift-wrapped kava for the local Chief . . .


                                . . . then wind your way up the hidden creek beneath the forest canopy to the village  

It turned out that the Chief was ill in bed recovering from a minor stroke.  So, his son, Tai’a, received our kava on his behalf and welcomed us to his village and his bay.  He spoke excellent English – and noted with some pleasure that he was now hearing the “Queen’s English” for a change as opposed to the innumerable other versions employed by other nationalities.  He regretted that he was unable to put us through the rest of the Sevusevu ceremony, which involves the ceremonial drinking of kava (drink the bowlful in one gulp, hand bowl back, clap hands three times – obviously) because the Chief and his immediate family are Seventh Day Adventists and don’t touch the stuff – it being mildly narcotic (but even mild narcotics drunk by the gallon – not that unusual – have a pretty debilitating effect).  However, others in the village were Wesleyans and had no such inhibitions.  He summoned one of the Wesleyans who fell upon our kava and took it away gleefully to grind it up and prepare it for proper disposal in due course.




                                        Jon with the Chief’s son, Tai’a.  Tai’a’s T shirt tells you all you need to know!


                                                                                                Chief’s house

Just then, Tai’a received the message that, notwithstanding his father’s fragile state of health, he wished to welcome us himself.  Accordingly, we were summoned to his house (remembering to take our shoes off before entering) to sit cross-legged on the floor of the main room before being shown into his bedroom.  He had struggled into a sitting position on the side of the bed (so, no legs stretched out) and donned a sulu (wrap-around skirt) and T-shirt (so, no knees or shoulders on display).  In a slightly faltering voice and speaking Fijian he welcomed us and thanked us effusively for our gift and for coming to his village.   In case we hadn’t got the message he then put the gist of it across in broken English.  Wow.  We left feeling immensely humbled and touched.


                                                Amazingly Vodafone does work in the back of beyond. 


                                        Typical village houses.  Woven palm leaf wall panels much in evidence.


                                    The communal village shower.  A triumph of functionality over aesthetics.


                                                                            Seventh Day Adventist Church


                                                                                        Wesleyan Church

Navigating the dinghy between the inner reef and the mangroves and then up the creek to the village had been a bit of an adventure 2 hours after high water springs and it was a bit more of one returning about an hour and a half later.  Experience of canal boating and punting on the River Cam was a bit useful here (deepest water always towards the outside of the bend).  We bumped and ground a bit here and there but made it back in one piece before Carol dinghied off to Drifter with the laptop to talk Google Earth and exchange other techie stuff.


                                                                    Up a different creek but with a paddle or two

It is likely that we will leave here tomorrow and head a little further east in Fiji.  We haven’t much time left in Fiji and need to be placed in the south of the archipelago in about a fortnight’s time at latest and ready to grab the first decent weather window for the passage to NZ.  There is just so much to see here that we will be able barely to scratch the surface in the time we have.  You could easily spend a whole season here and still not have done all you usefully could.  Well, we might do just that.