After our trip to the Ngelelevu Lagoon, we arrived back in Savusavu on Cinco de Mayo. We had returned with the idea we would go on to Nananu-I-Thake to kite. Unfortunately, our timing was off. My kite instructor was going away for 10 days. Monty could kite, but not me, as I needed more instruction before going on my own. Also the kiteable winds were not going to last many more days.
Monty tried contacting a kiting instructor in Savusavu. After several attempts, the guy emailed that he was away in New Zealand. He suggested we go out to Devondara, not far passed the Savusavu Airport, where he kites. We took a taxi to check it out. The taxi turned off the road at the start of the beach. Security guys stopped us before we got to a gate. They explained that Survivor Australia is there, filming, and the area is closed to the public for 3 months. So no kiting in Savusavu for us. We were not allowed to take any pictures, but we stopped the taxi on the way back so I could snap these ones of the beach and a challenge-setup.
We thought we might go diving. We talked to Colin of Korosun Dive, with whom we did our Open Water Dive certification in 2015. He wasn’t going diving until the sea state calmed down, probably about week away. His main dive boat capsized in February and was under repair, and his little boat was only safe in fairly calm conditions. Three strike outs so far on activity ideas.
We provisioned with some success. Fruit and veggies were abundant, depending on the day and better if the ferry had just been in.
We were delighted to find large avocados on a few occasions. I made some guacamole, a Cinco de Mayo treat with nacho chips.
As a whole, the Fijians are honest, but you should be careful and count your change when you give a vendor a large bill. Instead of a $20 bill, we were given a $7 bill, printed to commemorate Fiji’s Olympic Gold Medal win for Rugby in 2016!
We bought a couple bundles of kava in case we had to do a sevusevu at a Fijian village with a chief. The price had skyrocketed, to $150/kilo. It used to run about $20/kilo. Kava cafes have been popular in the US and pharmaceutical companies were buying it to develop drugs. The locals were getting pretty “flash with cash” from selling their kava. One market vendor told us that it was difficult to hire labourers as they were all busy planting yangona (what grows into kava root).
One weekend, when a rugby game was being played in Savusavu, the vibe was different. A lot of young people were wandering around town. We were in a Chinese restaurant for dinner and the staff had difficulty with a table of intoxicated young men. The manager insisted that the diners pay before they would be served, a smart move.
The following Sunday, we were out for a stroll along the waterfront. Numerous bottles, cans and plastic wrappers were strewn along the path, in the creeks and on the shore. Police tape was around the local cell phone store which had been broken into over night. Several robberies to businesses had taken place that night, with a gang from Suva being suspected. Fortunately, no trouble on the cruising yachts this time.
We wandered up to revisit the natural hot springs.
Boiling water gushes out of the ground. People use it for slow cooking (lovo style). Nearby, attached to a doctor’s office is his hot springs tub operation. You pay about $10 to have them fill a huge tub to 104 degrees for you and your sweetheart (optional). It is clean and appeared to be okay but we never tried it. It always seemed too hot outside for a hot-tub.
A few hundred yards up the hill is the Hot Springs Hotel. It has no actual hot springs access but a new pool and hot tub were under construction when we visited it. That hotel and several others in town were happily fully booked with film crew for Survivor Australia. The show had well over 200 crew staying around town. It was welcome business for the restaurants too. We wondered if the survivors themselves were also being put up in hotels between filming sessions. A lot of mystery around those shows. Whatever gets the ratings and advertising dollars!
Along our stroll, we tried out the outdoor gym for some much needed exercise.
Our TRX has seen the light of day a few times this season too! Our former trainers, Ian and Catherine, would like to see that!
Every weekend, local children are treated to a day of sail racing on boats donated by some international companies. The parents would follow in a chase boat to watch. It looked like good fun.
We went paddle-boarding up the Nakema Creek on a few calm mornings. The moorings and Copra Shed Dock were pretty empty as it was still early in the cruising season.
One Saturday morning, a small brightly painted fish boat was anchored next to where we were moored. It was fairly common for fishing boats to anchor temporarily just outside the mooring field.
Four men were busy cleaning fish for the market. I asked them how the fishing had been and they replied just okay. They had been out for two days. I asked if they had any waloo (Spanish Mackerel) to sell. They had caught one and held it up for us to see. They wanted $30 FD for it which seemed fair. We hummed and hawed as waloo is one of our favourites, but we had recently caught a mahimahi and had fish in the freezer. Monty agreed to buy it. They backed up their boat, letting out their anchor line so they could transact stern to stern. The waloo had been kept cold and had not stiffened up yet, so it had to be been caught just hours before. It had already been gutted.
Monty began filleting it off the back steps and the fishermen asked if Monty wanted to keep the head. Monty said, “no, do you want it?” They did. When he handed the head and the skeleton to them, Monty said, “5 bucks”. Three guys looked at him a bit shocked, but the skipper started to laugh, realizing it was a joke! The skipper took his crew and catch in to shore and came back out to anchor between the island and Whistler again. He talked on his cell phone much of the time, occasionally enjoying a smoke, and then disappeared below for a nap. The boat stayed there overnight. A nasty rainstorm blew up at dawn. Tarps were rolled down to stop some rain. I felt sorry and wanted to have him over for a coffee but, when the rain subsided, he pulled up his anchor and went back into shore. The weather cleared up on Sunday afternoon and we noticed him motoring passed us with a woman aboard. I waved as they passed. He stayed out all Sunday night and brought her back to town the next morning. Was she the Mrs?
We met some familiar boats arriving in Savusavu from New Zealand and some new boats from Tonga. Some had had good passages, others were very glad to be on terra firma. We were fortunate to make some new acquaintances. Many of our old “friend boats” had moved on to Australia, had gone to other South Pacific Islands, sold their yachts or were still in New Zealand. We were lucky to come across some very nice people.
The Fijians in Savusavu are generally in a good mood, usually giving you a smile and an audible “Bula”! You can’t walk far before someone greets you and makes eye contact! Being a visitor in Fiji is more pleasant compared to what we experienced in Tonga last year. There, the locals seem to be an unhappy lot, looking down and rarely saying hello to strangers.
It was time for a change of scene from Savusavu town. We rode our folding bikes out to the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort. Unlike 2015 when we had ridden out there, the road was nicely paved the whole way. We rode up to the gate and asked if we could visit the resort’s reception. It is a private resort, and they monitor outside guests’ movements. The resort had been badly damaged by Cyclone Winston in 2016 but was nicely restored. If we were coming for a drink or meal, we could tie our dinghy up to their dock. Monty asked to see the dive shop. We were accompanied around to the shop and met Andy, the manager. We asked about diving and he was very welcoming, offering us local rates, which seemed comparable to what we had been charged by Korosun Dive. They have numerous dive sites inside Savusavu Bay which are protected from the big waves outside the reef. We now had an appealing option for some activity.
Here are some photos from our mooring in Savusavu. Savusavu gets a lot of cloud, showers and rain. At least the clouds yield some interesting skies.
Coming soon, our diving and snorkelling experiences.