Makogai 17.26.8S 178.54.2E
Salsa af Stavsnas
Ellinor Ristoff Staffan Ehde
Sun 28 Dec 2014 07:05
This morning all four boats (us included) took off for Makogai (Makongai). To get here you have a 30 nM stretch over open water and then you pass a reef and go through a passage. Our direction was westward and the 20 knots plus wind was from ESE.
Perfect sailng up to 8 knots!
As we came here we had a Sevusevu with the village chief ranger. This island belongs to the goverment and is a very special place with a history worth checking.
Firt inhabitats were warriors that lived on top of a hill. As they serviced the chief on a neighbouring island they found out that half of Makogai was given away to an European that supplied the chief with wepons and gunpowder (in those times it would be like give Ghadaffi a missile).
Soon the Europena guy got the whole island and then it was inherited until the Fiji goverment bought.
1907 it was built to take care of patients with leprosy (now called Hansens disease) (In Swedish spetälska).
Catholic nuns took care of the poor people that were forced to the island and became prisoners. They were not welcome anywere else and it is easy to imagine what a sorrow place it must have been. As other countries heard about this island they started to send their patients, so the island was divided according to countries, you can still read on the map places like: China, India, Samoa etc.
5000 people have been here and the village was huge. You can still wander about and find ruins in almost every bush.
As the rangers father was brought up here he asked him to tell us about how it was here. He told us that the people brought here would not be accepted on any boat so they took a barge and towed it after a tug. The place was closed in 1968 as a medicin was discovered. He told us about how men and women were held in different parts and locked in at night. They even had a prison for naughty leprosy patients! There was also a cinema for entertainment...
After the leprosy was gone the goverment decided to start an experimantal breed for a sheep that would be good for Fiji.
They brought in a sheep from Barbados (can you see this sheep dancing?), that was skinny, almost a goat and then they interbred it with a fat sheep from New Zealand and Australia. Here you have it, the Fijian Fantastic! That is the name of the new breed, a naked sheep that can take the heat (does it use sun screen?). As it became successful it was taken away from the island and now they grow giant clams and turtles, all to restore overkilling and over collecting. So the kids got to lift teenage turtles and to see giant clams in different stages.
A fabulous afternoon!