Published: February 3rd 2008February 3rd 2008
Bula from Gun Rock, Levuka!
The trip got off to a flying start when we lost our bags, courtesy of Los Angeles International airport (what an inadequate, inhumane, obnoxious place that is). But who needs stuff anyway? Bought some groovy clothes in downtown Nadi, then caught the flight to Taveuni. As soon as we stepped off the plane we found we were on Fiji time. Bibi's Hideaway was just what we needed- a huge garden full of coconut palms, papaya trees, passion fruit vines, pineapple plants, banana , kumquat and orange trees...and all the fruit we could eat. Huge fruit bats, almost the size of buzzards, swooping around the trees in the evening, and plenty of different sized geckoes for company in the bure. The bags arrived in a pickup 24 hrs after we did, which isn't bad, considering they'd probably been to New Zealand! Highlights of the stay were climbing Des Voeux (Devo) Peak, just short of 4000ft with stunning views to Vanua Levu, and seeing all sorts of birds in the forest including green pigeons and barking pigeons, red breasted musk parrots and fiji parrot finch, visiting the Bouma Natural Heritage Park and swimming in deep pools below waterfalls
Sunset before the storm
Sunset behind the coconuts, evening of Sunday 27th Jan
with freshwater shrimps, and snorkelling off the public beach. Then on the night of Sunday 27th, things started getting a bit stormy and remained very windy and wet through Monday, when we were supposed to leave Taveuni. Quite a lot of damage to vegetation, all shops closed and shuttered, and no flights. We were lucky- by the time the storm hit Viti Levu it had become Cyclone Gene, a Category 1 cyclone, and the damage here was far worse. Roads and fields flooded, crops ruined, Nadi completely underwater (international airport also closed), and sadly six people died. By Wednesday, things were starting to return to normal, and flights resumed. The tiny airport at Matei was full of people waiting to get off the island. So we made it to Suva airport, then took one of the shortest, but scariest, flights ever- Suva to Ovalau at about 3000 ft above the sea through a thunder storm. And things only got more interesting. On our way to Levuka, a wheel came off the taxi ( a Nissan Lite-Ace van)!! The driver managed to re-shape the brake mechanism using a tyre lever and a rock, then re attached the brake drum (using said
View from Devo Peak
Looking across Somosomo Strait to Vanua Levu
rock) before removing wheel nuts from each of the other wheels to re-attach the detached one! We were very glad to arrive in Levuka and Gun Rock Cottage! Today we've seen the site where in 1874, Fiji was ceded to the UK, and where in 1970 it gained independence, with Prince Charles being here to take the flag down. Gun Rock, which towers above us at the back of the house is so named because in 1849, Commodore Wilkes fired a canon at it to impress the chief of Levuka. We are half way through a dive course (two shallow reef dives so far, amazing corals, fish, sponges etc) and still waiting for the wind to drop and the rain to stop. Sounds like home? Well, at least its 25 degrees centigrade here!!
There are more photos below