Sunday morning in Suva
in the rain
Well, things worked out with customs, immigration, health,
and quarantine. After a number of phone calls to the Suva Yacht Club, the
woman there arranged for the 4 officers to visit us if we paid overtime.
We did and they did. Total US$200. I must say the 2 men and 2 women
were amongst the friendliest of officials we have met on the trip. This
is in complete contradiction to the guide books who slagged the Suva officials as
unfriendly, unhelpful, and racist against non Melanesians. (Dick asks
that I define slag , to denigrate; he assumed that if he didn’t know it,
noon he knew would) The officials mentioned that we would have to recall
them to check out, even to go elsewhere in Fiji. As they described this,
they realized this was bureaucratic and helped simplify the process. For
details, call me directly. Then I had to pay them in Fiji dollars so
we together went off to the yacht club to get some local currency at a very
The yacht club and Suva
reminded me of Rudyard Kipling. Sort of a decay all around. The
feeling was made more depressing by the rain that gave a feeling of imminent
collapse to the building. There was a dance or party room blocked off
from the bar, not looking like it had seen activity in many years and fronted
by a stage with fake ship railings. I could imagine the Brit expats, back
in the days of the Raj; swirling around the dance floor in their finest.
This “oasis” is located directly across the road from another
institution, the Suva Prison, whose walls are painted bright colors, which do
nothing to lighten the feeling of doom emanating from the building poking above,
and reminding me of film depictions of 18th century prisons , a la Bastille.
At the yacht club, the bar was filled with furniture, really the other sailors,
that looked like they were nailed to the bar and had a very tired,
overwhelmed look as if to say, “What did I get myself into, in coming
here by boat?” They looked haggard, flush faced from too much sun
and too much liquor and generally tired from trading too many lies with each
other. One reason I spend only little time in these conversations,
is because I find most people don’t know much and end up spreading
disinformation that I find confusing and tends to put me on edge as I need to quickly
filter truth out of fiction. For example, with respect to the poor
Marita, that hit the reef yesterday, we heard everything from, she was ok
because she only hit in sand to ,her keel was torn off and the boat is foundering
and the shell shocked couple has been seen removing all their worldly
possessions. I looked at the other sailors in the bar, and hoped we didn’t
look that bad. The exception was a funny friendly Japanese man who had
sailed his Catalina from Japan.
Talk about brave or silly or ….
After lunch at the yacht club we took a 2 minute cab ride
into town. I generally like urban centres and find the mix and energy and
apparent chaos, attractive and energizing. Suva struck me as in a decay where clearly
deteriorating buildings stood next to new construction of large complexes.
Ken and Dick said this was similar to other 3rd world towns they
knew. The food market was fascinating with all the activity and bright
colors of food and flowers. The mix of Fijians and Indians was
interesting and fun and we felt safe walking around in the town and mingling in
this other world. (Again the guide books are wrong)
We all fell asleep at 8pm last night.
Off to breakfast in YC