Friday 27th September 2013 - New Plans
Friday 27th September 2013 – New Plans
dear! We obviously should have put
our life-savings on Oracle to win the
Vuda Pont Marina has been interesting. The berthing arrangements present a few challenges particularly for a fine-bowed boat like Arnamentia.
We never thought we’d have to walk the tightrope at our age
Vuda Point is regarded as a pretty safe place to leave a boat for hurricane season. If one is imminent, a large wave boom is installed across the entrance to the marina. There are also pits, also known as graves, dug in the hard into which one’s boat is lowered. Chatting to one owner here, it isn’t a foolproof business – the tyres propping up his boat collapsed causing major damage to the rudder and skeg.
Southern Cross bedded down in good time for the hurricane season
It’s also been fun here. We’ve caught up with chums and worked out what to do next. We still have the Lau Group of islands (at the eastern fringe of the Fijian archipelago) to do properly and this is a ‘must’. We saw a bit of it for 48 hours before having to run away to get various important things fixed in much less remote places and we know that it just has to be ‘done’. However, we now have too little time left to do it justice before we have to get going for NZ again, in mid November at latest, to avoid the cyclone season. So, the latest sort-of plan is to spend a couple of weeks more in the west of the Fijian archipelago, see something of the Yasawa group and then sail to Vanuatu and spend a few weeks there before heading back to NZ. We’ll sort out the Lau Group next season. This is, of course, how most people’s three year circumnavigations become a bit stretched. But, once you sail west out of the South Pacific you’ve got to be a pretty dedicated masochist (or, possibly, paid crew) to want to beat back to it against the Trade Winds.
Having hired a car for a few days here, at the pretty reasonable
rate of 88FJD or around £30 a day, we spent much of Wednesday driving around
various bits of the west and SW of Viti Levu – the principal Fijian island. The scenery is as stunning as we’d
expected. Something over
90% of all
Fijian land is tribally owned and cannot be sold. Native Fijian villagers tend not to see
themselves as businessmen and so such commercial farming as is done, of sugar
cane and so on, is undertaken by the Fijian Indians who lease the land from
them. In the flatter areas
villagers cultivate fruit and vegetables that find their way to the local
markets – which are wonderfully full of colour and life – and to roadside
stalls. Largely, it has to be said,
women’s work. Gainful employment
for the men – particularly those remote from the shore – has dried up pretty
significantly because killing and eating your enemies is now rather frowned
upon. But the upshot is that the
vast majority of the countryside appears wild and uncultivated. Here and there are sites of particular
interest. Whilst the majority of
The dunes reach a pretty impressive height
Glad we weren’t out there in Arnamentia!
the trails winds through mahogany woodland which was planted fifty years ago to
prevent the sand blowing onto the
Let’s hope the relationship lasts
Another worthwhile place of interest is the hill fort at Tavuni, just outside Sigatoka. This was eventually conquered by the British (more accurately, their native agents) in the late nineteenth century. Until then, as elsewhere in Fiji for around 2,000 years, those enemy unlucky enough to have been captured were likely to be sexually tormented and mutilated by the women at the ‘killing stone’ and made to eat their own body parts before being consumed, on behalf of the gods, by the tribe. Nice. Moreover, one measure of a chief’s greatness was the number of his enemy he had personally consumed. But, that was all rather before spoilsports had thought up the Geneva Convention.
Path through the ruins of the hill top fort
Some pretty neatly built walls
Like many an historical attraction here, initial enthusiasm has given way to lack of attention. It does not alter the fact that it is well worthwhile seeing. Please bear that in mind as you read on. But it could just be so much better with very little effort. It is not well marketed and is poorly maintained. A sign at the site proclaims that it was established with the aid of EEC funding in 1960. The original script is still distributed to enable you to understand the various bits of the site and the history behind it. That’s really quite interesting. The original gravel-laid and wood shuttering encapsulated paths still exist. But, only just. Two men, working at median South Pacific speed, given a hammer, wooden shuttering, galvanised nails, and a dump truck of gravel could restore the site in well under 5 working days. But, that’d be, say, 80 man hours. Which would be almost 2 man hours of maintenance for each of the 50+ years since the place was established as an historical site. So, obviously, that hasn’t happened. Perhaps that’s just the Fijian way. Things are made or born. They wither. They die. And the Fijian word for maintenance is, um . . . dunno.
A commanding position – the view north ……
… and from the same position, the view south
brings us onto the enormous privileges that yotties in
As a yottie you pick and choose. Go where you like and when you like. Stay as long as you like. See what you like. Snorkel and dive as you like. Interact as fully as you like. Particularly in the remoter islands, get involved. Lend the islanders your skills. Learn from them. Attend their churches – properly dressed obviously. You won’t actually have much of a choice in this nor understand a word of what is said and the hymn book will be a bit of a mystery. But, hey, lunch will be good and you’ll probably be excused afternoon church on account of good behaviour. Get under their skins. Understand and be understood. Just feel the goodwill and return it. Heaven. We haven’t done enough of this yet but it’s the key to next year’s agenda.