Journal 36; Western Fiji with the Martins
July 23 - July 31, 2011
OK… we weren’t really on vacation but our guests were.  We picked up Tina, Robert, Tillery & Joe, and went north for a tour of the Mamanuca and Yasawa Fiji Island groups.  The new crew was in good spirits upon our departure and retained a great attitude throughout our week together.
First on the itinerary was a stop at the local produce market to pick up fresh vegetables for the week.  Then back to the boat to cast off from the marina with for the destination of Mana Island, an anchorage that is surrounded by a reef with a channel that is well marked but very narrow.  Although there were strong winds and waves outside the reef we enjoyed smooth, crystal clear waters inside the reef protection.
As soon as we arrived we headed ashore to check out the beach bars and activities.  The next day we enjoyed a morning of snorkeling. 
After lunch we stumbled across a resort’s coconut demonstration that explained all the ways coconuts can be traditionally used: mats, ropes, baskets, cups, food, etc.  At the end of the demonstration Tillery was gifted with a basket of fresh grated coconut.  Joe had climbed the tree to get his coconut, but Tillery’s was more appreciated since it came already grated!
From Mana Island we sailed north to the uninhabited island of Nevadra.  The snorkeling there was stupendous and we all enjoyed the solitude of the island and its beautiful beaches.
After Nevadra we sailed to Waya Island whose tall profile can be seen miles away.  We were joined by good friends, s/v Boree, for two activities: hanging out at the Octopus Resort and a traditional Fijian BBQ called lovo.  Of the two, the lovo was special
I had earlier gone ashore to ask who could prepare a traditional lovo meal.  The first guy I met, Maleh, told me, “I’m the lovo guy.” And he was.  It was a fun joint venture.  We supplied all the meat and Maleh and his family prepared the lovo and side dishes.  Maleh and his sons dug a large pit and lit a big fire with rocks in the middle.  While the fire was burning, Maleh wove baskets for each type of meat we had donated: ½ of a pork shoulder, one whole Wahoo & Spanish mackerel fish that we had caught and one chicken. Maleh provided a basket of cassava for the pit. After several hours of burning wood they removed all of the charcoal and laid a bed of banana stalks that are full of moisture on top of the molten rocks.  Other leaves are placed, the meats & cassava wrapped in palm leaves, then palm leaves and other types of large tree leaves.  Finally they covered the entire process with sand.  After that, what else to do but drink some kava!! High tide or low tide?
After an afternoon of drinking kava we returned to El Regalo to freshen up.  Our dingy back to the island was delayed until after dark so Maleh made a fire on the beach to mark the reef entrance.  It was really cool.  Maleh’s family also prepared a coconut sauce for the fish, some yams and rice.  The food was good but the special part was interacting with Maleh’s family.  We ate less than a third of all the food and we were happy to share the rest with the family. When the food was gone the kava started again.
During our sailing we were blessed with three double hook ups of tuna.  What fun to bring in fish using our hand lines!
The next morning we broke up and did different activities, Joe and Brian tried their luck spear fishing, Tina and JoDon snorkeled while Robert and Tillery relaxed on board.  Click the two images below to enlarge.
After morning activities we walked back to the Octopus Resort and spent the afternoon enjoying the bar and comfy lounge chairs.
All good things must come to an end and we bid farewell to our guests with a promise to be back in Texas within the next year. We’ll see how that goes; we next have the countries of Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Australia to explore while aboard El Regalo.

If possible, please drop us a note and tell us what is new in your lives.

Until the next journal,
Brian and JoDon

Before starting any activities on Waya, protocol is to respect the village chief by presenting sevusevu, a traditional gift of kava.  We went to the chief’s home, he is in his 80’s, wore cool shades and he blessed us and our gift.