Kava, cocaine and coconuts - Part 1
Kava, cocaine and coconuts……….
When it comes to tropical south pacific islands, we figure we’ve experienced some real goodies and are thus a tad hard to impress. Well – just when you think you’ve seen it all ……
After sailing overnight from Matuku and not getting the reef entrance exactly right with the tide, we had a slightly hair-raising entry to Vulaga in the beautiful Southern Lau islands of Fiji. Once inside however we realised that we had forgotten just how beautiful this place is. Surrounding reef protects a large superb white sand lagoon studded with tiny limestone islands (vatu) and isthmus’s. Being early in the cruising season there was only 3 or 4 other boats here which is just the way we like it.
It’s the sort of place that is such a safe anchorage you almost forget about checking out the weather and never tire of new areas to swim, kayak and generally admire the place. At low tide you can climb through onto the outer reef to shell collect and generally take in the scenery.
With very little soil and minimal rain, there’s hardly any run off into the lagoon giving amazing water clarity.
The best snorkelling is drift diving with the incoming tide through the pass – doing about 5 – 6 knots as you fly over huge coral, turtles and always a shark or two.
Fortunately we’ve only ever seen white tips in here and they get more of a fright than us I think.
With this being our third trip to this remote island chain, the real pleasure is the people who live here. They are 500% more “savvy” about cruisers than they used to be. However we found having “old friends” here we just picked up where we left off and could discuss all these changes and generally have a good old gossip as you do in small communities J . One such friend here is Ba pictured below with her mother who together wove us a really beautiful pure white matt – it’s a bit of a monster – all we need now is a house to put it in!
Village life here revolves around fishing, growing your own food, looking after everyone and of course the church. You really do need to like fish – you get to eat an awful lot of it….
One of the things the locals like the most about having cruisers visit is that according to long standing tradition ,we as visitors must bring kava to present to the chief as part of the custom of sevu sevu. This is where we request permission and are subsequently granted the right to stay. Anchoring on a remote island is basically the Fiji equivalent of waking up to find a few freedom campers on your front lawn. They can’t grow kava here so they are double pleased to see us! The price of kava has also dramatically increased since we were last here as so much was destroyed during cyclone winstone. Fortunately the way they prepare kava in Fiji is not like the fresh root juice that leaves you unable to feel your legs for a while like it is in Vanuatu and once you acquire the taste for it – this mildly narcotic drink is the way Fijian’s socialise. It’s their drug of choice and everyone is pretty mellow although Fijians seem to get slightly drunk on it where we don’t ……. Maybe it builds up in your system over time? Anywhoo – many a pleasant hour was spent around the tanoa (bowl) ….
For some people - – once you’re drinking – you might enjoy smoking. Here they roll these really long skinny things with a single dried tabaco leaf inside – often in newspaper – but the thing lasts for ages!
Stand by for Part 2!
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