I thought an update might be overdue just to reassure anyone concerned that I haven’t sunk without trace. Although it was delightful to meet up with cruising friends old and new at Savusavu, a popular port of entry and consequentially quite a social hub, I am still not feeling able to fully embrace a return to life afloat. I feel I have returned to Macushla a different person and I have yet to identify what I want from this lifestyle, or even if I want to continue with it. It might just be that Fiji hasn’t been the catalyst I had hoped for, although parts of it have been endearing.
The major change on board has been to take on crew to help navigate through the uncharted reef strewn islands and this has been a complete revelation. I was always concerned how I would cope with letting a stranger into my private sanctuary, but I have found this to be much easier than I first thought and have thoroughly enjoyed having such intriguing and proficient company on board. I feel I have struck the jackpot with my present crew and am concerned that the bar is set way too high for any future applicants, but only time will tell.
Fiji is a strange mix of a Country that is difficult to describe, it would be easy to post a whole gallery of palmed fringed golden beaches with crystal clear waters hosting five-star resorts, but large parts of the Country live in what we would consider to be abject poverty and this doesn’t sit well with me. I find myself searching for ways I could assist the more deprived areas to move forward and was particularly taken by a small village cooperative factory making virgin coconut oil and consequently adding significant value to their natural resource. I would love to see more initiatives like this and less dependency on holiday resorts where the employees are marooned away from home in staff quarters for weeks on end without a break.
The Country is deeply religious and I have counted up to seven different denomination in a single small town, all coexisting side by side and exceptionally well supported. I also think Rugby could be counted as a religion here. It is no fluke that Fiji are the world sevens champions they absolutely love the game and every village has a pitch of sorts, often with rickety posts made out of bamboo.
Before arriving in Fiji, I hadn’t given a thought to it lying on the Meridian, diametrically opposite from Greenwich and as far away from home as I could get. The meridian is acknowledged in a few store and hotel names but goes very much unrecognized except by the taxi driver that pointed out a mango tree and said “that is the line just there”. What has been frustrating is the way our navigation apps fail to deal with the transition as they direct us to go all the way around the world to get to the next waypoint a few miles away, but the other side of the divide!
Food in Fiji has been interesting, with half the population being of Indian descent the markets are a combination of the usual Pacific island fare but complimented with an exciting mix of exotic herbs and spices and good curry are served just about everywhere.
For me the
jury is still out on Fiji, a paradise for some, but I feel we will eventually
exhaust the patience of these friendly and exceptionally good natured people.