Small earthquake, no tsunami, not many hurt

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May 6th 2006
Published: May 6th 2006
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Where Octopus is
So from being meticulous at brushing my teeth with bottled water I found myself sitting covered in a gaudy sarong drinking dirty dishwater that had been filtered by a flannel, and drinking out of a wooden bowl that loads of other people had already! Welcome to Fiji! Kava didn’t taste bad at all, especially after half a dozen or so cups (your lips go numb). We were in the back of a shop with a whole group of people, young american students, studying in Sydney, and a scottish girl travelling alone. After bit of sightseeing we went back to the hotel, and met the other guests, really friendly bunch, spent the rest ot the day poolside. Had a really good evening, the menu was veggie friendly - which was lucky as Air NZ couldn’t manage a veggie meal on the plane - well if you can’t get it in the country it’s not likely to happen when you leave! Friendly hotel, left the next day for one of the islands, along with 2 of the hotel guests, youngish french couple from Paris, who we’ve had a few late nights drinking with. The guests here are all very friendly, which I guess is because fijians are and they certainly create a relaxed atmosphere, very good food too! The other fab thing about Octopus is around an hour before sunset the waves on part of the beach were excellent for body surfing - so addictive, and amused quite a few people watching, and bloody lucky I was that I didn’t get cut from the masses of loose coral!.

Took us a 2hr cab ride and 20min boat ride to get to this island we are on now - Nananu-i-ra. The cab ride was excellent for once it had a/c! Took us through loads of different villages and lovely scenery, gorgeous sunset then arrived at jetty for twilight, the sea was a calm as a mill pond the light magical. Woke this morning to said mill pond barely 20 steps from the cottage door, water is so clear, masses of fish, (almost on the beach!), and there is a long jetty at at the end ,a lovely notice asking you to feed the fish not eat them! (fishing isn’t allowed from the jetty) there are masses of brilliantly coloured fish, and lots of purple starfish (much easier to photograph!)

Had less sleep than usual last night, thunder storms throughout - that and jb snoring, he was almost lounder in some bits! Thought there were a mass of glow worms in the cupboard, till between snoores jb confirmed it was the light on the mac! doh! Was just drifing off sometime before 6 (usual time for me) when through the still heavy rain heard the owners voice asking if we were awake, vaguely intrigued me but not enough to get up. Turned out there had been an earthquake quite close (hopefully no casulties) and the radio had announced a tsunami warning, jb pottered around with the lantern (there is no electricity till around 8.30 and it was still dark) whilst I lay there wondering where all the bits were that I wanted to cram into my bag as I ran to the hills. Haven’t usually bothered to unpack but due to tiny ants invading my case, everything is lying around, was only gonna repack as we leave, have put off giving everything a shake as there were several mouse droppings! have convinced myself it just popped in for a quick look and is now happy outside somewhere - actually that must be true ‘cos I’m sure dead mice don’t smell too good - I would have noticed! Still we have been lucky (so far) because the warning has been withdrawn. Just got the update on earthquake 7.8, but so far only one person injured, apparently it didn’t turn into a tsunami ‘cos it was the wrong sort of quake! brilliant! - v. lucky this is a small island and there isn’t too far to run.

Didn’t take long to be accosted by friendly Fijians eager to tell us about their country, home village, craft shop etc., soon the subject turned to local produce and I found myself persuaded to buy some, albeit at a price that will probably keep a family fed for a week. Seemed like a win-win situation at the time, very nice. Right now we’re on Waya island in the Yasawas at a place called the Octopus resort. Set on a fabulous beach with a pretty good reef just yards offshore. The accomodation goes from tents to a/c deluxe beachfront rooms, we’re staying in one of the bures in the garden, no a/c but coping (just about). We have a comedy hammock outside our bure, it’s set just a bit too taut so I’ve fallen out of it twice, but that may have something to do with the produce! It was an interesting journey to get here, 1 1/2 hrs in a small aluminium boat, luckily the sea was calm, anything else and the journey would be more than interesting, really hoping for calm on the return journey. Haven’t really done much here except eat, drink, smoke, snorkel and chat to new friends from various parts of the world mainly because the only other thing you can do is go for a walk through the hills and it’s too hot for that. Interesting mix of people here at Octopus, a fair number on round-the-world tickets ‘cos Fiji’s an affordable place to stop in the pacific, holidaymakers from Oz and NZ ‘cos it’s only 3hrs away, and bizarrely a wedding party from Indiana who are here because they haven’t been here before. There will be 39 there for the wedding so as the place only accomodates 50 I’m glad we’ll be elsewhere by the day of the ceremony. It’s an oddly successful formula to have such a range of different accomodations in one resort, particularly as there is a compulsory meal plan that doesn’t really allow anyone to eat more extravagantly than anyone else. The dining hall is set out with 4 long refectory-style tables which encourages mingling and conversation, the place overall works very well. The fact that it’s on a gorgeous, remote and huge beach coupled with a guest/staff ratio that feels like 1/1 only helps. After spending the last month moaning I’m sorry I can’t be more negative about the place, but this is just another place reliant on the tourist dollar - only more remote - but somehow they seem to provide the best they can rather than the least they can get away with. For anyone thinking of visiting the Yasawas in Fiji check out this place. In fact so far Fiji gets a big ‘thumbs up’ all round, the first day in Nadi, guess what? I found the internet cafe that this entry will be sent from, so different to where we were.
After Octopus here we are on Nananu-i-ra, off the north coast of the main island, Viti Levu, and a quiet and tranquil place it is. Five bungalows set right on the beach, and nothing happens all day except for the tide going out or coming in. Picked up an ear infection at Octopus, but luckily already had antibiotics purchased in Thailand, I knew I would get one, any more than two days consecutive snorkelling and it happens. This is probably as good a place as any to recuperate, especially as local produce is still seeing me through, nothing to do so no need to feel any guilt at doing nothing. Well, I say nothing happens, but the canadian guy staying in the bungalow next to us got bitten by a small dog on the walk through to ‘Back Beach’, the beach on the north side of the island - all of three minutes away. Serious business, letters to police, lawyers - probably the prime minister. I think the owner of the bungalows is secretly quite pleased as I got the impression he was none too impressed by the level of control his neighbours keep over their dog, and he seems as if he’s up for a bit of drama. His morning call about the tsunami warning the other day had a touch of the Captain Mainwaring’s about it ( actually we have no idea about the truth or otherwise about the situation as we have had no media of any sort since NZ), he was soooo pleased that something exciting may be on the horizon. Seems that this island we’re on is popular for ex-pat R&R as two families arrived today (friday) from Suva complete with kids, just for the weekend. Still the noise has come as a bit of a shock so we’ve decided to take off for Rarotonga (Cook Islands) which apparently is even quieter than here. Well, it is run by New Zealand. More in a week or so. Last bit. Apparently today is the start of the general election, people seem to be taking it seriously, let's hope it all passes off peacefully.

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