Matei and Qamei, a meeting with Moses. 16:45.8S, 179:46.8W

Serenity of Swanwick
Phil and Sarah Tadd
Fri 19 Jul 2019 04:19

We left Paradise on Wednesday morning to make our way slowly to the Lau Islands.  These are the eastern islands of Fiji. First stop was Matei at the north end of Taveuni. Lovely spot to anchor off another white sand beach but very rolly overnight so all we did here was go for tea and cake ashore. We had considered making a foray to the supermarket and fuel station but we will have to wait a bit longer. Next fuel and shops are on the east side of Vanua Balavu 70 miles and a few anchorages away.


Another sandy beach.


But this time with a café.


Thursday we were off to Qamea (the Q is prounounced like ng in finger), a short hop round the north of Taveuni. This group of islands is a good hopping off point for Vanua Balavu but because you need to leave at night it is recommended that you check out the route through the reef in daylight, in that way you have a track on your chart plotter which can then be followed. We duly did this and then came back into Naiviivi anchorage. This is a mangrove area with good holding in a mud bottom. Also its shallow, we anchored in 4m at low tide. The route in was interesting following waypoints on our plotter and keeping a watch at the bow for shallows and coral, this is probably where it is more important to have looked at the route in daylight.


We are anchored off a settlement where Moses, the local headman lives, this is where we had to give Sevusevu and receive permission to anchor and visit. We saw a number of longboats go in through the mangroves to drop off school children and others so we assumed that this was probably the best way in. After rowing up the creek, then paddling and towing the dinghy, and then walking we decided that this was the tradesman’s entrance through the gardens. We retraced our steps and headed round to the old jetty.



Exploring the mangroves.


After clambering ashore through the mud, not too much as the tide was almost at the jetty, and many greetings from the folk returning from fishing we were taken up to the headman’s house. Unfortunately he and his wife were still out fishing so second best was to see his brother in law who carried out the welcome and accepted our sevusevu. As we returned to the jetty, passing the headman’s house we met his wife, Frances, and agreed a time to come and meet them the next day.


Moses, Frances and Marian


The people we have met so far always seem pleased to meet you and to chat about where you are from. We talked for some time to Moses and Frances sitting crossed leg on the floor, most uncomfortable for us westerners, women are allowed to tuck their legs under them but you mustn’t point you feet toward anyone, especially the chief! By our standards the houses are very bare.  There are no chairs or tables – everyone sits on the floor and apart from cooking utensils stacked on the floor and on some shelves in one corner the only things in the room were the TV/video and the controller for the solar panel, which gives them the power for their lights (and videos).


On Thursday Moses and Frances had caught a 33kg Spanish Mackerel which they sold to the local resort, the resorts seem to live in harmony with the villages buying fish and vegetables from them  and also employing  entertainers. We met a man heading off to the resort with his guitar and I would imagine that they also send dancers and singers. The villagers also make money offering traditional meals and feasts to visitors.  This area seems relatively well off, with the villagers fishing from fibreglass longboats with big outboards, rather than the canoes powered by sail and oar we saw on Kioa and Rabi.


A communal sheltered area under a corrugated roof


One of the better looking houses, made of corrugated sheet.


The new Methodist church under construction, the old one was damaged by cyclone Winston 4yrs ago. If we are still here on Sunday we are invited to the morning service. As well as being the Chief, Moses is the Minister.


Waka drying, the Waka comes from a different part of the Kava plant and is more potent.


The village landing, accessible after about half-tide


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