25th June 2014
Katherine getting nautical on Hebe (Who's the cool dude she's with?)
I think my lasting impression of sailing around Fiji is the people, of all the many we have encountered along the way the Fijians are the warmest and kindest, good people, who will go the extra mile for you. They are all staunch Methodists and ate the last missionary about 150 years ago. Since then the villagers live in a structured harmony where the chief rules wisely, there are many rules for everyone's benefit and they share to provide for all.
A few days ago we arrived at Somosomo and were greeted by a large canoe load of men and boys from the village. The spokesman was Kali, a charismatic man and the local pastor he invited us ashore to meet the chief.
Our intrepid men set off in the dinghy once more, with practically the last of our kava roots, to be met by Kali who took them to meet the chief. Imagine their surprise to find a skinny, bright lady of 87 years. She had been chief for 40 years and welcomed Hebe crew with clapping and chanting followed by lots of interesting conversation about the village and enquiries about us.
They invited Hebe to a village feast on Thursday and were dismayed when Andrew explained we had to return to England to be with his sister Sarah and the family. Kali said the whole village would pray for Sarah, and Andrew was very moved by his sincerity. There are 300 people in the village and congregation, so many prayers.
Jonny, Kath, Harry and Imo will still go to the feast in their honour which I am sure will be a highlight of their trip.
Fishing is strictly controlled and any we catch we have to hand over, some waters are saved especially for feasts to keep stocks up.
Kali told us we must cross to the other side of the island and snorkel on the 'Spitfire' ….. evidently an American plane ditched in WW2 but the model description is sketchy.
Having a Gladiator moment.
It was a wonderful walk over the island….(none of them have roads or cars), following the narrow path through bush, then grasslands and the palm fringed beach the other side.
Here we came upon a large clearing beautifully swept with ordered pines and palms like a French camp site. It was the home of one family who had been there for at least four generations. We met Dean the son, who works gathering sea slugs for Chinese medicine…very well spoken and charming, we gave gifts to his mother (including those great British foods - Spam and HP sauce).
Dean told us how his great great grandparents saw the plane crash land in the lagoon by their home, the American pilot survived and they gave him a cup of tea.
At low tide you walk far across the sand and can snorkel over the old plane. The main fuselage still intact and a huge lion fish living in the cockpit.
Harry made the most of the wind….he's getting quite good at it,
I wonder what Kali would make of London, the jam packed commuter trains, the homeless sleeping on the streets, the neglected children and elderly. I feel rather ashamed that our society has lost its moral compass.