Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Taveuni island

As the drone of a small engine plane fills the air I conjure up the images of the 70's TV show, Fantasy Island and Tattoo excitedly repeating "de plane, de plane, boss de plane!". I too am excited with the expectation of seeing a friend from home. They're also packing a bag of items we specially requested (critical gear such as Reeces Peanut Butter cups) from the US lending a Christmas morning excitement as well. It's great to see my friend John and his partner Nicole climb out of the plane.

The boat is anchored on the northern most tip of the island of Taveuni, tucked inside a maze of coral reef off Naselesele Point. Snorkeling from the boat is great and we see a sea turtle up close, very large Napoleon fish, and the standard range of reef fish too numerable and unknown to mention. The next day we head for the Bouma National Heritage Park for a two hour hike through the jungle to see and swim in three twenty meter water falls (60'). A very bumpy forty five minute taxi ride later at the trail head I'm not feeling so well and so the others enjoy the hike as I take a nap in the shade.

The next day we had an all day island tour scheduled. I decided to stay aboard and battle my growing feeling of malaise with additional sleep as it developed into a thirty six hour bout of flu with 102 temperature. Kathy, John and Nicole enjoy a day long tour of the island with lots of hiking, waterfalls, blow holes, and some shopping at the village market.

The next day we headed for the water slides and enjoyed the refreshing cool mountain waters and the exhilaration of sliding down the one hundred and fifty feet of natural water slide that's not for the feint of heart. The local boys demonstrated how they could slide down on their feet skate board style and I gave it a few attempts making about twenty five feet before wiping out and sliding on my butt. Back near the boat we had lunch at a dive shop and I made many runs out to the boat with a jerry jug to top up the water tanks.

A short sail to Vanaira Bay and Rainbow reef we hooked into a nice Mahi Mahi about three plus feet long, put some sushi rice on the stove and enjoyed some professional looking sushi rolls half an hour later. Rainbow reef is Fiji's most famous reef offering immense diving and snorkeling options. A local resident of Vanaira Bay by the name of Jack Fisher, an indigenous Fijian stopped by the boat and offered to take us out to the reef to share his local knowledge. We took him up on his offer and we moved the yacht out to a special anchorage as directed by Jack. He had us drop the anchor super close to a coral head, but he assured the yacht would be safe while we snorkeled. We jumped in the water as Jack trailed us in the dingy as we drifted and swam over one mile through the pass and outside the breakers. A very nice snorkel site with millions of fish, pink, purple and yellow soft corals, sea anemone and a few token white tip sharks.

After the snorkel Jack guided us deep into the bay to his two yacht moorings, helped us tie up and then invited us to his home for showers and a quick tour of his village. We enjoyed his outdoor shower situated next to a tree in front yard with a million dollar view and consequently very little privacy, but no complaints for unlimited shower water.

Later, Jack greeted us ashore with a five gallon bucket full of limes, lemons, bananas, plantain and papaya. He then guided us through the village making many introductions and the requisite stops at the church and school. Back aboard for dinner it was Mexican night with home made ceveche with the fresh Mahi Mahi and homemade flour tortillas.

We then sailed for Savusavu and again caught a Mahi Mahi this time nearly four feet long, enough to share with other yachty friends in Savusavu. Savusavu was a nice treat as we were back to a basic level of civilization with a yacht club to catch up with cruising friends, nice restaurants and good shopping.

John and Nichole are departing La Vie here in Savusavu to spend a few days at a beach front bungalow before heading back toward the city of Nadi, the international airport.

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