Just touched down in Auckland, NZ.
The captions for the Christmas blog posted yesterday did not come through. They’re there now. We’ll post a few more stories from Fiji, then tell you about our fascinating time in Vanuatu.
Swimming and snorkeling were almost daily activities during our stay in Fiji. And there was no shortage of new reefs to explore right around Tavewa. The fish were plentiful and the coral was exquisite. Rhonda and Henry made sure we went out for a night snorkel with flashlights, and also got to see the large coral ‘bommies’ where she and Henry had their underwater wedding ceremony 10 years ago!
Rhonda, and especially Henry, have been involved with kayaking in the Yasawas for a long time. In fact, on their property is a storage shed full of kayaks and other equipment used by South Sea Ventures, a small company that offers guided kayak trips with stops in local villages. Their tourist season runs from about March to September. We were eager to get out on the water and planned an overnight trip to circumnavigate the island of Natacawa Levu (the one with the school we visited). Most of the island was, at one time, part of the Catholic Mission that ran the school as well as a coconut plantation.
Camp food was organized and packed, and we rolled up our tent and bedding to bring along. We set off after lunch on November 30th in a flotilla of 3 doubles and one single kayak.
We paddled to a lovely sand beach surrounded by thick forest.
One type of tree there drops “helicopter” seeds a bit like maple keys but with two wings — they were fun to play with.
Of course there was great snorkeling around the beach and Henry knew exactly where to take us depending on the tide. We saw beautiful table corals, soft corals that would change colour when touched, and a wide variety of reef fish. We didn’t manage to catch any, but luckily Rhonda had brought chilli for dinner which was heated over the campfire and enjoyed with a cold can of Fiji Gold!
We watched a spectacular south pacific sunset and fell asleep to the lulling sound surf.
Next morning, we went snorkeling again before continuing our circumnavigation. The last thing we did on the beach was to clean up the plastic bottles and shoes. Yes, shoes! I cannot believe how many flip-flops and crocs are washed up on beaches. The plastics are a terrible and growing problem for sea life. We didn’t have a good way to carry or dispose of the dozens of bottles we found, so I am embarrassed to admit that we burned them. With a bit of research later, we realized that that was not the best choice as lots of toxins are released if the fire is not at the ultra-high temperature of an incinerator. Anyway, after the kayak trip, we were motivated to find out more about recycling and disposal of water bottles in Fiji. Cam will write about that.
We stopped at a village on the other side of the island where Henry’s cousin (Mathias, I think?) and his family live.
We continued around the island, stopping every now and then to rest our arms, stretch our legs, and swim. Everyone we met along the way seemed to offer us fruit! We got back ‘home’ mid-afternoon. What a great way to get re-acquainted with sea kayaking, something Cam and I hadn’t done since our pre-kid days out on the west coast!