Musket to Monuriki Island, Shans story

Lars Alfredson
Fri 26 Jul 2013 07:54
Pos  17:36.51S 177:02.39E
20130724 Wednesday

Lars has just reminded me that on the morning after the night before we weighed anchor (I’m copying Bob’s nautical terms here) and set off for this incredible reef named Nuku.  One minute an azure blue ocean, the next a sand spit starts to appear, it grows and grows until at low water there is a glorious white sandy beach in the middle of the ocean.


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                               Spot the difference!


 Fortunately we arrive before the main trippers and have the reef to ourselves.  I’m overwhelmed by the amount of tropical fish that literally surround us as we snorkel around the reef.  It’s like swimming in an aquarium.


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 Not having used fins and snorkel for some time I struggle a bit.  My sinuses are thoroughly washed out with sea water.  My snorkel seems to flood every few minutes.  I assume it’s because I’m pretty useless.  Anyway I stick with it and enjoy the experience of being surrounded by fish of every imaginable hue. However, I enjoy even more browsing through Bob’s amazing photographs.


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                            Bird Wrasse with a long snout                                                                              Triggerfish


20130725 Thursday



Thomas cooks an amazing dinner, duck breast with the tastiest red cabbage I’ve ever had.  We anchored off the backside of Yanuya Island. We passengers, who sleep in the stern of the boat, enjoyed a peaceful night’s sleep.  Unfortunately our Captain, who has an impressive walk around, king size bed in the bows was kept awake all night by the anchor dragging on the coral. Scrunch, scrunch all night long.  He was very bleary eyed when he eventually surfaced this morning.


After cheese and marmalade sandwiches we set off for the main village on Yanuya Island where we go ashore to ask permission from the chief to visit Monuriki Island.  This cost us 10 dollars per person and a gift of Kava root.  We did not experience the elaborate Sevusevu ceremony because it was fairly early in the morning.  This I think was a blessing in disguise.


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                Sevysevu with the chief of Yanuya.                                                    Presents of Kava root, colouring books and cigarettes.


At Monuriki Island I again donned a new or rather alternative snorkel and mask, well I must be really useless as seawater seems to seep through every available orifice.  I take matters into my own hands and abandon snorkel and fins.  Instead I enjoy swimming in the warm, azure waters using a mask to study the abundance of coral. Finally I walk on the same sands as Tom Hanks in the film “Castaway”. Eventually returning to the boat to be told that both snorkels I had used were useless, so perhaps I’m not so useless after all!


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                       Can you name these fish?                                                                                    We can’t.


After lunch we return to Yanuya and wind our way along a well trodden path that takes us around the perimeter fence.  Everyone we meet is friendly.  We greet each other with the customary “bula” then we exchange names and they want to know where we come from.  We pass the village well where two young girls are filling up large drums with water.  They explain that this is for washing only, they drink rainwater.


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                Water girls                                                                           The cooker 


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                   Cassava roots


We reach the village school just as the children are being dismissed for the day.  The Headmaster greets us and the children welcome us enthusiastically. There are about 150 children at the school aged between 6 and 14 years. 50 or so of these children are weekly boarder whose families live on the surrounding islands.  At 14 they transfer to the secondary school on the main island of Viti Levu.  The photographs of the school speak for themselves, just bare classrooms but so much enthusiasm from the children.


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           Shan with the Head Master.                                                            His office!


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                            Happy children


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                                  Library                                                                                                Boarding accomodation.




We carry on through the village greeting and waving to everyone we meet.  We pass a communal cookhouse and what appears to be the communal washing up area.  So many dishes, pots and pans.


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                           The cook house                                                                                        The washing up house


One of the houses has solar panels and a TV aerial, the only sign of electric power on the island.  Finally we end up at the market where the local women sell their home made wares, shell necklaces and bracelets, polished wooden souvenirs, etc. their clients coming from the tour boats that call in everyday of the week except Sunday so were told. I invest in a polished coconut shell cup used for serving Kava and a painted bookmark made from the beaten bark of a tree.


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           Villagers and kids



                          Helping to launch.




We end the day with bbqed steak, mash and salad. Num, num.


Now I’m handing over to Bob who I hope will add pix.  I hope I haven’t bored you with my ramblings but everything is so amazingly different here.