Tuesday, August 03, 2010

We are still in Savusavu in Fiji. Savusavu is on the windward side of the island and we have been experiencing tropical rain everyday since our arrival. This is not like Canadian rain, well prairie rain; it is more like heavy mist. The clouds come up over the mountains and then the wind blows and the skies open, and this fine warm moisture falls out. Sometimes it only last for a few minutes and if you get caught in it, you get slightly damp, but it is not cold, so not to worry. At other times the wind just howls and the mist becomes sheets of rain, the drops are still not very big but you get wet in a hurry. We have felt quite boat bound, you don’t open the hatches or portholes and we have been down below quite a bit and we still don’t have our cushions.
We did find project here, a company manufactures LED light fixtures for boats, so we have converted most of the lights on board to LED, they will use a lot less amperage than the ones we had before, so I am hoping I will be able to read using boat electricity after dark instead of a headlamp. We should use a lot less triple A batteries that way!

Yesterday we arranged with two other boats to do a road trip to the sunny side of the island. We rented a van with a driver,one of the couples were Dutch and the other was an Australian family from Tasmania. I was a little worried about travelling with children in a small vehicle for most of the day but the kids, Zeke, 11 and Nina, 8 were marvelous. It was a pleasure to make their acquaintance and we all had a great time. We went over the mountains, about 570 meters in elevation according to Barry’s fancy new watch. We saw a sugar mill, visiting the town of Labaso,(pronounced Lambaso, apparently here in Fiji when there is a b you say mb, just as when there is a d you say nd, so Vuda Point is pronounced Vunda Point and when there is a g you pronounce ng so Sigatoka would be pronounced Singatoka), saw a Hindu shrine and stopped at a resort that was built by 2 former cruisers.
The most impressive thing was the scenery and the difference between the windward and the leeward side of the islands. Here in Savusavu, it is very green, with climbing vines everywhere and lush undergrowth. On the leeward side the hills are brown, and the vegetation is a lot sparser. There is more sugar cane grown over there as well as forestry operations as indicated by the straight rows of tall pine trees.
The hindu shrine was a bit of an eye opener. There is a big rock that is shaped like a cobra and it is holy to the Hindus. While we were there, a group was worshipping, they offered bananas and apples as well as flowers and they poured milk on a stone that they had covered with leaves, incense was burning, the priest was chanting, someone was playing a drum and they would walk around the 5 meter high rock ringing a bell as they went by it. Apparently they believe that the rock is growing, I don’t know much about the Hindu religion but it was all rather strange to my western eyes. They had a staircase that was 108 steps, no doubt a very significant number, to the top. The steps had a very small rise to them, to fit all 108 in the distance to the top, so to be comfortable you would step 2 at a time. I guess I should have asked more question in order to understand but our driver was a Muslim so I am not sure how far that would have got me. The driver did tell us about his prayer schedule, 5 times a day, in the morning, at noon, at 4 in the afternoon, just at sunset and at 7:30 P.M. that is a lot of prayers.
The sugar pipeline
We saw a factory where they refine the sugar, apparently the sugar is shipped from the vats it is stored in tubes which ran under the road and then just poured into the ships when they load it. One of the vats announced it could hold 10,000 tons of molasses that is a whole lot of sticky gooey black stuff. Imagine all the gingerbread houses you could make out of that many tons of molasses. There were a couple of very aptly named hills, one was the sleeping giant, and the other was the panther. The driver spotted several birds I would never have noticed, a kingfisher and a hawk. They were perched on the telephone wires, he said at night he often see owls there. When we came back over the mountains the sun disappeared and the clouds began to close in, as we got back in our dinghy it began to sprinkle once again.
Everyone is waiting for the winds to become more favourable before leaving so there are over 50 boats here at the moment. The weather is supposed to lift on Thursday, so we will head a little further east and then sail back to the Latoka area to get our cushions and prepare for our passage to Vanuatu.

The Sleeping Giant