Friday, 10 October 2014

Fiji, Suva 3-10-14

It's our last day in Fiji. I hate leaving Fiji. I love the food, the people and the fact that it's a tropical paradise. I always want to stay. We sailed to Suva from Lautoka, pretty directly. We did get to anchor each night though and one of the places we stopped was a sheltered little bay at Nananu-i-Ra island. It was beautiful, nestled in amongst a few little resorts.

The water wasn't amazing but it was clear enough, so we took the dinghy over to a little reef near our anchorage. It wasn't that interesting but it had been a hot day so it was lovely just being in the water. There were scattered bits of soft coral rather than a solid reef, and some of it was quite pretty.

We sailed to another reef a bit further out the next day (motored, to be exact), which was exactly what we needed. It was very Fiji. There were millions of different kinds of fish swimming around us and the coloured coral was beautiful. Unfortunately I was trying out my new gopro pole, with the camera on the wrong setting. So I have a lot of photos of nothing and none of the turtle that came right up to me and gave me a fright, or the amazing caves we found to dive through.

It was too deep for me to try them out but Garth gave me a fright by wandering off towards another side of the reef and then popping up from underneath the coral right next to me. I'm easily started when there's the possibility of sharks. So that was really amazing and made us both very happy. If we hadn't found at least one beautiful reef I think it would have been hard to drag me away from Fiji.

Suva is interesting. We haven't been here before and weren't sure what to expect. It's a big city, much bigger than Nadi or Lautoka. We read on Noonsite (which is supposed to be like a bible for cruisers, with lots of useful information) that you had to pay $15 per person to tie your dinghy up at the dinghy warf. We arrived at 4pm and just needed more bread and pineapples from town, so I was having none of that. We rowed over to the road and dragged the dinghy over thick mud to tie it up to a tree. Then when we came back and the tide had gone down a bit, I nearly lost my shoes as I sunk down past my ankles into the goop. Whatever, we saved $30. Except I asked the barman at the Yacht Club on the way back and he said we could just tie up out the front, no problems. They even have security guards watching it. Damn Noonsite. So the next day we headed to the dinghy wharf, but we went down the wrong leg of the tiny marina and ended up pulling the dinghy up over a small wall to tie it to another tree. We eventually found the other dinghys... There were only like 15 there, I'm sure anybody else could have missed them as well.

Pretty beach just outside Suva

The vege market here is very much like the one in Lautoka, but a lot bigger. The seafood section is more interesting though. Tucked away behind the market were tables of seaweedy looking stuff, crabs tied together to prevent them crawling away (though that didn't stop them trying), piles of clams and trays of other strange looking things that were obviously in the seafood family. Round the corner was the fish market, with stalls all lined up along the street and a very distinctive fishy smell wafting past them all. Everything was stupidly expensive though. The supermarkets, the bakeries and the fruit and veges all cost more. I thought $1fjd for a green coconut in Lautoka was steep, in Suva they were $2 ($0.20 each when we were in Vanuatu. I've been spoiled). A pile of three or four pineapples in Lautoka were $2, in Suva the small ones were $2 each (about $1.20 aud). This displeases me, especially considering we wanted to do some more provisioning before we left. We got very little, which might hurt when we get to French Polynesia and everything costs three times more. I did haggle for the pineapples though, seeing as our next passage will be maybe a week. I wasn't leaving without at least seven pineapples. 

We haven't done much else here, aside from buying groceries and carrying them a long way back to the boat. The taxis here only cost a few dollars, so normal people would just pay for a lift. But we're not normal. We've mostly eaten pineapples and very fresh cream buns. We went to the movies the other day, which was a stupid thing to do in Fiji but really fun considering we spend all our time at sea and on islands. Side note - even Fiji popcorn is better than the dodgy stuff they give you in NZ.

Cool mountains

We did get sucked into buying souvenirs though, even though we just wanted some household items. I'd obviously rather buy something locally made than some cheap plastic junk they've had to import, but try telling a poor little guy in a room full of stuff he's hand carved that you just want a soup spoon. We found a place along the waterfront that was filled with little stalls of handcrafted things. Some of the people were at their desks making things, or sitting in the walkway weaving bags. We followed the river, which runs past the main mall and the cinema (the fish market was set up along the other side). When we got to the waterfront we just followed it along for a while in the opposite direction to the markets and we found these lovely handcrafted shops. If you're getting souvenirs, this is the place.

Most of them are happy to barter, and everything is beautifully made. We found a mahogany mortar and pestle for about $9aud (we had to ask everyone and eventually the store owners talked amongst themselves and a lady emerged from the group and dragged it out from a box under a bench). She wouldn't budge on the price and I'm not surprised - it's beautiful. And I got a soup ladle made out of a coconut shell for $10fjd (I didn't even have to barter, she just dropped the price from $25 immediately. I suspect the prices are just as high as they think you can pay and they don't go any lower than they think it's worth. The price of hand painted things will get dropped in half, but still stays expensive). We've been eating a lot of stews lately and don't have anything to dish them out with. So we actually needed that. And Garth decided he had to have a little pineapple bowl to 'put stuff in' when he's cooking. It's too small to hold anything. When I find olives again I'm going to put olives in it. Then I shall eat them. I miss both olives and bacon dreadfully. And chocolate. Chocolate here is in the form of oreo cookies or wafer sticks - you don't see many chocolate covered biscuits on the shelves. Cooking chocolate is in the cold section with the butter, and chocolate as I know it is kind of hidden away at ridiculous prices. I ended up finding a tiny milky bar for $4. It was amazing, but I wasn't paying $14 for a block...

I think I quite like Suva. Not as much as Lautoka but definitely more than Nadi. It's a nice city. I think because it's just busy being a city instead of relying on the tourism industry to keep it going. There's a lot of it we didn't see, but that's always the way. The harbour is filthy though. I would freak out if I fell into that water. When Garth was taking us to shore in the dinghy, my job was to stare down into the murky depths in case I spotted the rubbish before it got wrapped around our prop. It was mostly plastic bags, which were annoying to keep picking off the motor. I wanted to fish them all out and feed them to whoever threw them away instead of leaving them for the turtles to eat. But I'd never get them all. It's sad finding so much rubbish in these countries, but I guess on a bigger scale they're not much different from us in terms of damaging the environment - they don't have much technology or electricity or cars or mass amounts of pollution. Just rubbish in the water. Which I think/hope was just hanging around in the harbour instead of being sucked out to sea.

The harbour

The fuel dock in Suva is not ideal. We're coming across a lot of problems by sailing the wrong way across the South Pacific. People fill up their fuel on the western side of Fiji at the marina near Lautoka or the one near Nadi, just before they head off to the islands, New Zealand, Australia or further north. People don't fill up on the east coast, because you don't go east. The fuel dock was only for small boats, with a 2m draft at high spring tides. There's no way we were getting in there. So Garth ran back and forth all day on the dinghy filling up water and fuel, while I ran all around town chasing officials so we could check out.

Cute little village on the way to Suva

So now we're off to Tonga. We have to decide whether to spend a few days in Tonga and a week in the Cook Islands, or the other way round. We shall decide when we get there! I'm just looking forward to French Polynesia and no more racing against time or Cyclones. Until we get to the Americas, when we have their cyclone season to worry about as well.

Xxx Monique

Resort at Nananu-i-Ra

Garth towing the dinghy at Nananu-i-Ra


Outer reef

Our boat is watching us

He always holds my hand

Lots of islands everywhere

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