We moved our boat over from the sand spit to the village anchorage mid-week and walked in to see our hosts on Thursday afternoon. We asked to walk to the next village, roughly a 10 minute walk. Junior, their son, accompanied us. We came across two adorable girls, sisters. I could have stayed there all day and photographed them.
George wanted to take us for a hike up the hill. He and Ma led us on a trail up to the top of the biggest hill on the island. It was quite a challenge for me, as I hate heights, and it was quite steep and rocky in places. We had to use the vines and trees to pull ourselves up the craggy trail. We were rewarded with a 360 degree view of the island. I had a hard time standing up and holding my camera without holding on to something, so I enlisted Monty to take some shots.
That Saturday, Monty transported Ma and George and a friend of theirs to go clamming and fishing. There was no room for me once the 3 Fijians were loaded in the dinghy. It was like a fishing derby, with the villagers all out collecting what they could for the big Sunday feast. After fishing, we served them lunch, spaghetti bolognese that Monty had whipped up and some garlic bread, using Ma’s bread, and tea. Ma and George peered through our binoculars to check out what everyone had caught. Ma was envious of the villagers catching mullet. Helps to have a big net!
On Sunday, we had forgotten to bring our bug spray and were almost eaten alive on our way to church. We had become complacent as there had been no mozzies during our the previous walks but, with the recent showers, they were out in full force!
We went first to our host family’s house and then to the Methodist Church. Ma stayed behind, to cook lunch. The two eldest children were in the choir and the youngest was on George’s knee. The service, which was conducted in Fijian, with a brief welcome in English to the cruisers. The choir sang three hymnals. An older man kept an eye on the children and would tap them on the shoulder if he caught them talking or playing during the service. He was known as the “stickman”, seriously!
We were invited to have lunch with Ma and George following the service. We sat at the dining table this time and enjoyed a feast of clam and fish dishes, cassava and coconut bread. It was all very tasty. Ma did not eat with us, waiting until her husband and we had all finished, another Fijian custom.
After lunch, we showed them some videos and photos from our life in Canada. The children liked seeing the whales and dolphins and ski videos. They had not seen snow, except in the movies.
Ma sent us back to the boat with leftovers, two loaves of her wonderful bread and some bananas. We would not go hungry on this island!
That evening, we were invited to visit with Chara. Joyce and Bob served us some popcorn and beer. We compared notes about the day and they shared some stories from their many cruising experiences. Joyce and I flipped through a book their daughter had published with photos from their cruising experiences in Mexico, the Marqueses and the Tuamotos in French Polynesia. B&J have been living aboard their Amel for several years now. They told us they just plan one year at a time. They are going to leave their boat in a pit in Fiji for the cylone season and go back home to Seattle for a few months. Bob is retired, about 65 now. Joyce works for Alaskan Airlines as a flight attendant when she is not cruising.
The next day, B&J were going into the village so I asked if they would take something to George and Ma. I quickly made a batch of Rice Krispie Squares. The only marshmellows I found in New Zealand were a mix of pink and white, which, on closer examination, were raspberry and vanilla flavoured. Our butter supply was getting low, so I had “augmented” the butter in the recipe with some coconut oil, a gift from Joyce. It added a hint of coconut to the already very sweet concoction but the kids seemed to enjoy them!
It rained off and on over the next couple days and nights. We hung out on the boat and did some projects. Walking to the village was not very inviting as the mosquitos would be out.
We were having issues with the salt water pump on one head, which had been a source of intrigue for the last week or so. Monty spent time tinkering and researching the manuals to determine the best possible fix. It turned out nothing was really wrong, other than some blockage in the line which appeared to right itself.
Monty paddled over to one of the little islands and did some clamming. After Saturday’s clamming event with the villagers, he was more knowledgable. He came back with Christian’s collapsible bucket full of large clams. They were almost the size of a fist. We had some for an appetizer and will have more with spaghetti today.
With the computer battery charged, I worked on photo editing and backing up. I looked at the shots of the family that I had taken on Sunday after church. I found it hard to get a shot with all of the kids looking at the camera. I could definitely use a course in portraiture some day. Keeping the children’s attention is a skill I have yet to conquer! The children were all dressed in red and green fabric with a contrasting lemon-lime green fabric. Monty noticed the red and green fabric had a Christmas theme, pointsettas and snow flakes. I printed off 5 shots to bring into them on our next visit.