First I have to apologize that I have not written in such a long time. We were (and stilla are) in such a remote area without phone and internet and enjoying paradise that I did not even post via radio. We still have no internt access so I can't send pictures yet of the lovely memories we experienced in the last 3 weeks. We have lived the unspoiled simple life of far away islanders, the moste lovely and heartwarming people in the Lau group.
After we had left Taveuni we first headed to Vanua Balavu, "Long land". The first surprise waited for us when we headed into the first anchorage behind a mushroom rock island in blue water after our overnight trip. We anchored right next to our friends on "Mares" whom we first met 2 years ago in French Polynesia. We did not know they were there. We had a lovely meet-again-sundowner on our boat. It is such a wonderful feeling to travel somewhere very remote and then stumble upon friends.
From that anchorage we re-anchored next day to the "Bay of islands" (yes, like the one in New Zealand) which consists of a lot of those little rock islands which sometimes look like pinnacles, sometimes like mushrooms, sometimes like a porcupine lost in water, a head, a nose ... It was great fun exploring the waterways inbetween and around the islands and passages with the kajak. The next morning we went to the village and did our "sevusevu". That is the ceremony with which you ask for permission to anchor in "their" atoll /island. The chief (or spokesman) receives your bundle of Kava, prays some words and welcomes you to the family. After that you're free to move around, talk to the people, take pictures, hike on the island - which we did. All of that. And I met a lady, Sarah, and her 4 yr old granddaughter, Babra, had lunch with them (we ate yams), talked a lot about their lives and took some pictures. After two more nights on different anchorages we made a final stop at the outer reef at the Adavaci passage for a very beautiful diving and snorkling stop before we started our overnight-trip to Faulaga.
An island before Faulaga (spoken: Faulanga) we made a morning break stop because we did not want to be in front of the passage into Faulaga too early and sail up and down there waiting for the right timing to head in. There were wonderful little bays with clear water and more of those little islands of any fantasy formation. On the way down to Fulaga Marcus caught a hughe Mahi-Mahi, over 30kg and finally boarded him after 40 min of hard work-out while I was sailing the boat in such a way that the landing was possible after tiring out the beautiful blue and yellow shimmering guy whith his high head. Our timing was just perfect for entering the pass - past the 2 boats who had been waiting for a couple of hours already :-). Lovely enough, other friends came out from the anchorage to guide us in. So we had a nother big reunion that night and the following evenings with sundowners and beach parties in this true paradise that we had finally found. Tavel catalogue white sandy beaches with palm trees surround this atoll of about 12miles in diameter. Hundreds of those little islands stick out everywhere in this huge blue water lagoon. One island look like Napoleon's hat. On monday morning all the boats that had arrived sat / sun were called in to the chief to do the sevu sevu and "donate" $50 to the village for anchoring in their waters. People from 11 boats met at the beach where we left the Dinghies and then walked towards the village. At the entrance Kai, the village spokesman, welcomed us, reminded us of the rules in the village (long skirts for women, knees covered for all, no hat, shoulders covered, sunglasses ok) and guided us to the comunity hall, where the chief was waiting for our arrival. After the 30 min. ceremony we were "distributed" to families who would be our host while in Fulaga, our first contact for anything, who would serve us food, show us local handcrafts, spend their time with us and thus let us experience the Fijian way of life. I will write about these unique experiences with Ba and Soki in a separate blog entry. Just so much: it was awasome. And we spent lots of time, helping each other out. We had gifts for each other and at the end, at the farwell lunch on Alita on monday, we received some woven goods from our host sister Ba and a handcrafted, beatiful long wooden bowl with turtles graved into it. Our host brother, Soki, made this. We were speechless. We enjoyed our 9 days in Fulaga and took life-long memories with us. And my first little woven mat that I made ;-)
After a short 2-day stop in Matuku island with nice (and dangerous) hikes (to other villages and school and up a rocky mountain) and a stop in the hospital to get my wound of a falling rock fixed (the village's chief took me there) we're now in Kadavu, again in peaceful, remote anchorages and one of the best diving areas.
To our friends Vicky and Andrew in Lyttleton who are following this blog: we're at Astrolabe Reef! Hope you see it one day soon. It's a 1000m drop from the outside of the reef down! Kadavu reminds me a lot of New Zealand, e.g. Whangaruru harbour. Green with lots of trees and some palm trees, birds singing, cypresses making noise, few villages with only water access. We have a couple more days here, maybe a week or a bit longer, before we head over to Port Denerau from where I can upload pictures. Marcus and Klaus will enjoy a couple more dives while I watch or dive them as I can't go into the water for another couple of days due to my wound. Tomorrow after the dive we're heading to a spot where you can see manta rays. Maybe the water is calm and I can spot them from above.
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