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Published: October 27th 2008
Checking which way to go!
Leleuvia Island Friday 24th October 2008
Yesterday we journeyed here to Leleuvia and are staying three nights until Sunday. The journey was quite an experience. We left Rain Tree Lodge at 8 a.m. and got a bus to Nausori. The bus was full of local children going to different schools so it detoured to different villages; this was great because we saw so much of the local culture, the kids, some as young as six and travelling alone, were so polite and well behaved (very different to hoards of English or Spanish schoolchildren) and the countryside was stunningly beautiful. It wasn’t raining! Yet again, we were the only white faces on the bus (the young backpackers at Rain Tree had hired cars, which are quite expensive in Fiji) and our recommendation to anyone coming here is to use the local transport if you want to meet and talk to local people. The Fijians are gentle, hospitable people and they love to welcome you to their country, of which they are justifiably proud. These people are pretty poor by European standards yet their clothes are immaculately clean and pressed, the houses and gardens are neat and tidy; very different to the
We shared the boat with 16 cans of fuel, no other passengers!
US where the poor live in dirty junkyards. Fijian schoolchildren look like they have been scrubbed for school!
When we got to Nausori we were not sure which way to go to get a minibus to the Waidilice River near Korovou to get our boat. A kind policeman took us to the minibus stand; when in doubt, ask a policeman! The minibus was fully jammed with eleven of us, eight workmen going to Korovou, John and myself and the driver. At 10 a.m. we were dropped off at Waidalice Bridge, all alone, no people, no boats and in the middle of nowhere; well, there was an old rowing boat with an outboard on the back half hidden under the bridge but we didn’t count that. Little did we know that this was to be the vessel to take us out over the choppy ocean waves to Leleuvia. We sat on the bridge for fifteen minutes and then a truck pulled up, a young Fijian guy (with dyed blond tails to his dreadlocks) got out and started to unload several cans of gasoline on to the side of the road. He said “Are you the Cussells?” We said that we were
and he said “OK, I’m just going to get the fuel cans in to the boat, get something to eat then you can get in. We thought maybe this boat was just to get us down the river to the sea. Wrong again, this was it! His name is Doka, great guy and it was a brilliant and exiting journey (but not for the faint-hearted). We went down the river for about twenty minutes and then headed out to bounce across the waves for another forty. On the way we waved to fishermen (and women) and saw a large swordfish jump right out of the water. Doka swung the boat around to see if we could get another glimpse but he didn’t surface again. We got to the beach at Leuleuvia, waded ashore and were greeted by the whole family. The island is only seven hectares, you can walk all round it in twenty minutes. Basically, it is a sand bar in the sea with trees and huts on it; no chance in a tsunami, it is only a few feet above sea level. It is a picture-book tropical island, simple bure thatched huts, power by generator (certain hours of
Doka, captain of our "cruise ship"
the day only and not at night) and surrounded by clear blue waters and a coral reef. The family do the cooking, which is simple but wholesome and they blow a conch shell when it it ready to eat. Last night we had red snapper caught just off the beach and gutted and cleaned on the beach in front of us while we watched the sun set (early, at 6 p.m.). For breakfast this morning we had papaya fruit straight off the tree. The only other guest is an old eccentric but charming German called Freddie, who has lived in Brisbane for 35 years, but more people are expected tomorrow. Everywhere is quiet, the tourist trade in Fiji is suffering badly from the world recession. So for us it is like having our own desert island almost to ourselves because Freddie disappeared to fish all day and turned u when one of the girls blew the conch shell. The only thing I don’t like is going out in the dark to the loo although the stars are amazing, because there are big poisonous sea snakes that sometimes come on land. The snorkelling yesterday was really good; we saw some pretty
Fishing in the Waidilice Delta
fish, very colourful coral but also a very big snake. John and I are not like crazy Freddie, who picked one up this morning and chucked it back in to the sea (see the photo). We are scared of these fat, brown and white striped serpents so we won’t be snorkelling again. They don’t come ashore much but swim extremely fast in the water. According to the “Lonely Planet” it is OK if you don’t touch them and they are non-aggressive and swim away from you. This is bullshit! Yesterday, one put his head right out of the water, saw John and swam straight towards him. John hasn’t been swimming since! Furthermore, our bure is only about 4 metres from the water’s edge. This afternoon we are taking kayaks out on the sea, when the tide is fuller over the coral.
Despite the snakes, this whole ‘desert island’ experience is quite something and we are both loving it. The conch has just sounded so let’s see what we have for lunch. We’re starving. The food is good but the helpings are not huge (we obviously have bigger appetites than Fijians); a private stash of Mars bars and Pringles would have
First glimpse of our little island
been a good idea! There is no internet here of course so this blog will get sent whenever!
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