Vanua Balavu Ashore
At two o’clock we were welcomed ashore by a lady who led us to the chiefs house explaining as we went that the chief was off tending his crops but his sister was waiting to greet us in his absence. The village spokesman shook our hands as we entered a large room and we settled as delicately as we could on the floor in a circle. Looking at the chiefs sister, she had spent some time away by her spectacles, teeth and dress. Our welcoming lady had visited York last year to see her daughter who is married to a soldier, all she said was how cold it was there in England and we heartily agreed.
The spokesman began a five minute diatribe in Fijian and patted frequently patted the kava packs that Steve and Bear had presented. Afterward we were assured that we now fell under the protection of the village and should we need a glass of water we could pop into any house. Our rules were no hats in the village and no swimming costumes – fair enough. We signed the Visitors Book, handed over $60 – twenty pounds donation currently used to extend the school.
The chiefs sister told us of a yacht that had had the cheek to sail in these waters presenting no sevusevu [kava]. It had gone aground on the reef and was lost – “served them right”, we all tried to cover our shock at this quiet outburst and felt she was being rather harsh.............
A bit more chat and our welcoming lady became our guide. Outside the chiefs house [seen on the right of the picture] we were right at home with our first One Careful Owner.
Very amusing to us are the spellings in Fiji, what you see on the charts, read in books or see on signs bear little resemblance to each other and if they agree the pronunciation is nothing like what we attempt out loud.
Up and out of the village, we stopped to look out across the lagoon. At the top of the hill we looked inland over lush green.
From the top of the hill we looked left at a very grand house with a well tended garden.
Downhill we met the chief who was bimbling home – machete in hand. He greeted us warmly with ‘Bula’ and handshakes. The ground levelled and to our left was the Dalaconi village school. Five to twelve year olds attend in four classrooms, a teacher for each, but at the moment they are waiting for the fourth to be replaced. No excuses for the teachers to be late as they live in houses away to the right of the picture. To the right of the road we saw the almost completed pre-school building.
We visited a classroom but couldn’t see the children as they were with their parents at a meeting with the teachers and felt it inappropriate to disturb them. Our guide stayed at the school and we wended our way back to the village, the need for a swim coming on.
We stopped to admire this gnarly old tree and his splendid root system.
The humble little church stood to one side of the neatly kept village green, that’s if you didn’t pay heed to the hundreds of crab holes that the naughty rascals dig indiscriminately all over the shop.
We passed a few buildings on our way back to Baby Beez.
We admired this house with the rather posh and unusual, if not rare outside staircase.
Off the back of Beez we soon left behind twenty feet of water and were snorkelling in the shallows and softer coral.
Nothing remarkable until we saw pin cushion urchins with the longest quills we have ever seen - a foot long.
Then our largest brain coral, we had to pull back to get this eight foot giant in the frame.
ALL IN ALL A GOOD DAY
SOMEWHAT MERCENARY BUT A WELL KEPT VILLAGE