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Published: November 19th 2009
Hazmat and Mahesh
Two of my Indo Fijian buddies
I'm into my second week at our Vatuseta property in Fiji. The weather has been sunny and dry for the past few days and the trade winds continue to blow. I've just finished left-overs of Chicken stew and my stereo is blasting out Creedence Clearwater's Greatest hits. Does life get much better than this?
It's only week two and I am already in the middle of my fourth book, Nelson DeMille's "The Lions Game" and then I will have to start perusing the cottage library.
As a note to my good friend Ed, his business partner, Polly, has taken a job at a cook in an Australian Gold Mine. Sell your shares now!! Monday, November 9
- Andrea stops by on his way to work for my neighbor, Mike. Andrea works for me 3 days a week and then does 2 days next door at Mike's. He's carrying another couple of pineapples, however my pineapple stash is already large and I tell him to "please take them home". There is no use making up rum-smoothie mix when I don't have a fridge to keep it fresh. This "no fridge" is starting to piss me off and I have
Walkway down to the House at Vatuseta
Raja our property dog with a happy face.
to walk abot 40m over to the guest cottage whenever I want to refridgerate food. It's time to give the boys down at Cookes a bit of a gee-up. I take my $3.60 taxi ride into town and head directly to Cookes Refrigeration, they are obviously expecting me and have the loaner up and running again. The fridge will be accompanying me back to the property with me when I return from town. One tick off my list.
I'm gearing up for my annual maintenance bee. I track down the stain needed to paint the houses, buy sandpaper and have an obligatory beer at the yacht club followed by a curry lunch with Robin Irwin and an American guy affectionately called Ratu Paul.
Later in the day, I walk over to see my neighbor, Mike and partake of a ritual nip of single malt scotch that he has at 4:30 daily. I had made a batch of Chilli and suggest that I share this with him if we can watch a movie. The movie selection for the evening is the Directors cut of Blade Runner. Tuesday, November 10
- I'm now officially frigid, or with fridge. Sisi
(Andrea's daughter) arrives, cleans house, does my washing, irons my tee shirts and refreshes all the flower arrangements (bliss). In the meantime, I'm back in town and run into a couple of Indian friends, Hazmat and Mahesh. Hazmat is aptly named (Hazardous Material) and is a middle man in the fish market section of Savusavu market and a great friend. Arrangements are made to meet at lunch time in the Blue water cafe. The cafe is operated by Mahesh and his brother-in-law, Arun. Hazmat arrives with several kilo's of shrimp and these are cooked up with oyster sauce and accompanied by Fiji Gold beer. Hazmat and Mahesh are off to Labasa tomorrow (pronounced Lambasa, in Fijian a b is pronounced mb, the same as wh being an f in Maori). I'm invited along for the ride as the token white-boy. Mahesh will pick me up at 8:00am on Wednesday morning and there are also promises of fishing on Friday, but this could just be the Fiji Gold talking!! I leave the cafe at around 3:00pm and head home, I'm so full that I don't have another thing to eat for the rest of the day.
Wednesday, November 11 -
The Road to Labasa
You can just see a glimpse of Savusavu Bay in the background.
Mahesh arrives shortly after 8:00 and our dog, Raja, alerts me to the fact that someone is on property. Raja is the sweetest dog and loves company, but he can put on his angry face if he doesn't know you. The trip to Labasa is about 90k and winds through the the villages at the bottom of Savusavu bay and then up through the forest and hills. Labasa is a largely Indian town on the other side of the Island and is the main center of the sugar cane industry on Vanua Levu. The town is on the hot, dry side of the island and doesn't have the luxuriant forests that are on the Savusavu side. It is packed with people and I soon learn that the new Fijian President is making an appearance at a returned serviceman's parade. We are passed by several official 4 wheel drives, all with tinted windows. I don't actually see the man, himself.
Labasa is not on the bucket list of the world's greatest cities or towns that must be visited. London, Paris, New York, Labasa doesn't feature, however it's a must if you ever find yourself on the Fijian Island of Vanua
Students at the Muslim Preacher School
I think the kid in the middle is a little confused and escaped from Catholic School.
Levu. It is the home to several Hindu Temples, one of which has a rock that is growing (could it be that this is a volcanic Island). It's other claim to fame is that there is a floating island in the lagoon. Which is now stuck....
Hazmat's son has a broken wrist and we are taking him to the hospital for a check-up. Along the way, we stop at the Muslim preacher's school where he is a student. One of the Mullah's informs me that there are children from Canada, US, Pakistan and Australia all studying at this school. The religious teachers all have their requisite long beards, I think back and realize that I would never have made it as anything that had a prerequisite of facial hair. I didn't manage to grow a beard until I was 34. Hazmat stays in Labasa and I accompany Mahesh back to Savusavu. Thursday,November 12
- Andrea has already got two of the local village boys to start sanding down the external walls of the cottage and then paint it. I spend most of the day sitting around on the veranda, relaxing and reading. In the evening, I am picked
Hazmat, his son and brother
I'm not sure that I would want to go to sea in this boat.
up by my friend, Taiyab, builder of our house and driven to his house for a dinner of rooster curry. Friday, November 13
- Friday the 13th, definitely a stay at home day and I'd better watch out for falling coconuts. Saturday, November 14
- A trip to town, drop off a broken stereo, have a beer at the yacht club and in the afternoon it's a long awaited fishing trip. Earlier in the week the fishing had been really good (it seems that the coral is spawning) and two of the local Indian boys had a catch of 100kg between them. Fishing with the Indian boys is fun, but there is no thought to conservation and if a fish is caught then it goes in the pot. The wind is blowing around 20 knots and it is very uncomfortable, even in the bay. The fishing is very poor, we catch only 4 fish and stay until around 9pm when the guys see that I'm under the weather and suggest we head back to town. It's a pitch black night and the wind is blowing, not one of my better experiences. Hazmat gives me a couple of the
The Fish Market in Labasa
There's not a whole lot of refrigeration here.
fish and I thankfully head home to bed. Sunday,November 15
- The phone rings at around 7.00am and it's Robin Irwin asking if I'll help him with some computer stuff. About 10 minutes later the phone goes again, I think it's Robin, however it's his cousin Malcolm who has just got back from NZ and is trying to track down a Kiwi by the name of Neal French to uplift his car. The morning is shaping up to be quite busy. Robin picks me up and we head to his new development exercise called Savusavu Marina, we finish on the computer and are ready to leave when Neal French pulls in with his partner, I pass on the message from Malcolm. The funny thing is, I used to live next to Neal's uncle in Stillwater, when I first emigrated to New Zealand in 1985. Oh, small world!!
Back to my place with Robin for coffee and then Mahesh and his family are coming over for a "bring your own-lunch and my lunch too". There are six of them carrying a big pot, a Ross Davey crayfish size pot, that contains a rice and lamb pilaf, along with
a bowl of chutney and soft drinks. A lovely Sunday lunch and then I load Mahesh up with pineapples knowing that he is a good Hindu lad and will not use them in rum smoothies.
Later in the afternoon, Robin again appears at my doorstep for a cup of tea while he waits for his live-in girlfriend, Tua to arrive from Nadi. The flight from Nadi is late...
Ive been intermittently slaving over a hot crock-pot since Robin's first phone call and am expecting a few people for dinner. Robin, Tua and Ratu Paul all arrive, however Malcolm still hasn't managed to get his car and doesn't come. Thumbs up on the meal from everyone. It's wonderful what a crock-pot will do for Fijian beef.
Next week, more of the same and keep the comments coming.
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