Finally, A Fijian Wedding

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Oceania » Fiji » Vanua Levu
December 4th 2009
Published: December 5th 2009
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Who's in the Pot?Who's in the Pot?Who's in the Pot?

Look at the size of this cooking pot.
Andrea tells me that Jean-Michel Cousteau has been in town and he had met him at the Cousteau Resort. Why I don't get to hear until after he has gone? I religiously watched the Jacques Cousteau's TV programs in the seventies and would enjoy getting the opportunity to actually talk to a man that had been on all of these adventures. In their silver dive suits and encased cylinders the members of the Cousteau dive team were the fashion leaders of the dive world.

Factoids: Savusavu has a picturesque setting and is the main port for Fiji's second island, Vanua Levu. It is a haven for cruising yachts and is said to be a hurricane hole. Several yachts stay and wait out the hurricane season rather than making the long trip to New Zealand.

Factoid: There is a tree that grows in Fiji (Salato) that is like a giant stinging nettle. Leaves are 8-12ins with purple veins and if you touch them it stings and itches. Antidote, scrape bark from tree and rub on sting.

The houses on our Vatuseta Property are set in tropical gardens, however the big house doesn't have startling views. You can see the waves hitting the reef through the trees from the veranda, but we decided long ago that we wouldn't cut down trees to improve our view, consequentially our views of the water are not spectacular. The guest cottage has good water views because the ground drops away quite quickly and again it is surrounded by tree ferns, halyconias and other tropical plants. This year on our property there is an abundance of pineapples, but as mentioned in an earlier blog, the mangoes are few and far between.

Thursday, November 26 - Dear Diary, I didn't do much today, I just sat around listened to music and read. Maintenance progresses and Andrea is enjoying doing a little carpentry, rather than walking around with his brush-cutter.

Friday, November 27 - I have arranged to meet Ratu Paul in town for coffee and spend the morning in the Captain's Cafe talking to Australians that had been in town for a week. The heavens have opened, there is a tropical downpour, and the streets are running with water.

Malcolm and Filo come over for coffee in the afternoon and then we all head to the yacht-club for Friday night drinks. After
The Father of the BrideThe Father of the BrideThe Father of the Bride

Tuki all dressed up.
about 1 1/2 hours of fun conversation it's time to go to Robin Irwin's for dinner. Tua, Robin's live-in, has cooked a very nice Italian pasta dish with shrimp. On being questioned, it turns out that she is quite partial to the occasional Italian....

Saturday, November 28 - The phone goes quite early and it is Tuki, my first thought is that the wedding is off again. However, he needs us to bring a fuel filter to the wedding as the truck he had hired to take the clan up the coast is leaking fuel. Malcolm obliges and buys a filter in town before picking me up. I'd previously asked Tuki about the distance to the wedding village and am told that it was approximately 10-20 km further on than his house at Salt Lake. We set off at 8:30, pick up Desmond, Tuki's son, at Salt Lake and travel another hour and approx 45km up the coast before we turn off to the village.

We arrive with a flourish and Malcolm pulls his twin-cab in next to the Lovu and Giant Cooking Pots. If this had been 150 years earlier I would have probably been the main course. Today, it is chicken, pork, beef and fish. The Fijian Women scream, I whoop and then I'm surrounded, perhaps I am going to be in the pot after all.

We have to cut the noise down because there is a church service going on. This is a Catholic wedding and it will start immediately after the service is over. The one wedding turns out to be eight weddings in tandem. I suppose you have to grab the priest when he does his rounds or you might not see him again for several months. The wedding feast is going to have guests from all eight weddings. Tuki's daughter is 7 months pregnant; obviously there is no TV in this village. I've designated myself as official photographer and end-up taking around 620 pictures of the event. Everyone loves having their photo's taken, especially the kids, and I'm willing to oblige, click, click, click.

While Fiji is a laid back place there are many protocols in village life. The men sit, drink kava and tell stories, the women do the cooking and get ready for the feast. Malcolm and I join the guys for a bowl or two of the pounded brown root (Kava - mild narcotic and looks a little like dirty dishwater). We then sit with the guests at the feast and eat our beef, pork and dalo with our fingers. Quite a messy operation, but somehow I manage without getting my fingers dirty above the knuckles. I work off the food by dancing with a couple of the local Fijian women that have come and filled in my dance card.

We leave the village at 3:00pm and head back to Savusavu and a quick stop at Ratu Paul's house for a beer. I must mention this house because the views are magnificent and look out over Savusavu town and bay. Totally breathtaking, but the road to the top of the hill is not one that you would take without a 4 wheel drive and certainly not if you had spent too much time in the yacht-club bar.

Sunday, November 29 - Dear Diary, another quiet day. The Moody Blues are on the stereo and I'm sitting writing the blog on the veranda. I was to have my Indian friends over for lunch, but get a phone call in the morning to say that they won't
Eight Marriages at OnceEight Marriages at OnceEight Marriages at Once

At least this cuts down on costs.
be coming. Perhaps they guessed that I would not be making curry and decided to give my western fare a miss.

I've made a lamb casserole, so I invite Robin and Tua to share it with me. Later in the day we have rum smoothies on the veranda, discuss the recently released Fiji budget and Robin relates what has been happening in the world. I don't have a TV at the house, so all I do is read, listen to music and contemplate "The Meaning of Life".

I have just finished Stieg Larssons second book "The Girl That Played with Fire". My feeling is, I shouldn't have read the two books so close together and while I like Salander, she is just too much of a "super" anti-hero.

Monday, November 30 - Dinner at Robin and Tua’s. Tua, Margaret (Tua’s daughter), and Margaret’s friend do Polynesian dancing for us. How good is this to have your own private dance troupe?

Tuesday, December 1 - The weather is spectacular, sunny and very hot. It’s December and the Trade Winds are still blowing. The ocean is supposedly colder than normal and the thought is that cyclone season could be very late or almost non-existent. I arrange to have coffee in town with Ratu Paul and we are almost immediately joined by Malcolm. The three of us move from venue to venue shooting the proverbial and finally end up sitting on a veranda at Oneva (a European enclave) about 6 km from Savusavu. In the evening, I go to the Blue Water café for lobster curry with my friend, Hazmat. Another day and I failed to accomplish anything; normal for Fiji. There’s only two days left before I return to New Zealand.

Wednesday, December 2 - Today we should finish all maintenance at the house. There’s a rule for work always filling up the time provided, along the lines of a “Murphy’s Law”, anyway the house and property is looking great.

I head into town to see if my second stereo is fixed and to check on the fridge. Both have been at the menders for 3 weeks and I haven’t yet seen a light at the end of the tunnel. The stereo is still dead and the compressor for the fridge has not arrived from Suva.

My Indian friends and their families bring over
Drinking KavaDrinking KavaDrinking Kava

The root of the kava plant (Yanqona) is pounded into a flour and water is added to make the mildly narcotic drink.
food to the house for a going away lunch. I think that I am now officially curried out.

In the evening Andrea, Reena (his wife), Sisi, Malcolm and Filo come for dinner. Luckily, they are here when my Indian carpenter arrives with a set of bookshelves. These are so big and heavy that they have to be lifted over the partitions into the second bedroom.

Thursday, December 3 - A final check on the inside of the houses with Sisi. An external check with Andrea and then it’s a trip into town to check on my stereo,to my surprise, the stereo is fixed. Check, check, check and only five hours to tidy up loose ends.

Pizza on the veranda with my European friends and then it’s off to Savusavu airport for the flight to Nadi and then home on Friday morning to Auckland, New Zealand.

Friday, December 4 - My flight is 1 1/4 hours late leaving Nadi and I arrive in Auckland to heavy rain. Harrison picks me up at the airport and I drive his car back to Russell.

So, what did I do in Fiji? I relaxed, read, listened to music,
My Cup of KavaMy Cup of KavaMy Cup of Kava

Even though it tastes like muddy dish-water you have to show willing and observe protocols.
drank with friends, ate all sorts of food, maintained our property, and enjoyed the Fijian people.

Additional photos below
Photos: 21, Displayed: 21


8 Weddings in Tandem8 Weddings in Tandem
8 Weddings in Tandem

You need to catch the priest while you can. Otherwise, it might be months before you see him again.
Fijian KidsFijian Kids
Fijian Kids

This young boy spent a lot of time taking the mickey out of me.
It's not a Spanish WeddingIt's not a Spanish Wedding
It's not a Spanish Wedding

I don't know why Malcolm looks as though he'd prefer Spain.
Sunset at Ratu Paul'sSunset at Ratu Paul's
Sunset at Ratu Paul's

Paul's house has the most fantastic views in Savusavu. However, you need to be a mountain goat to get there.
Robin, Tua and MeRobin, Tua and Me
Robin, Tua and Me

Enjoying Dinner at Robin's House
A Farewell DrinkA Farewell Drink
A Farewell Drink

Paul, Neil, Me, Malcolm and Robin have a beer on the veranda before I leave. The guys stay with me at the airport until the plane finally arrives at 5.15pm. It was supposed to be a 4.30 flight.
Sea PlaneSea Plane
Sea Plane

There's just me and the pilot for the trip to Nadi.

5th December 2009

Did you get your fotties? Only one of me this time but I got a few credits.
5th December 2009

Loved both books (listened to them on my iPod) and especially loved Salander. Maybe it's a chick thing? I like the idea of a diminutive fem with an attitude. Can't wait for the third one to come out on audio books. You can cook curry for me any day! Mec
5th December 2009

My cup of Kava
well, by the looks of the "eyes" you almost pulled it off ~ then in the dancing? looks like it pulled you off! ha ha
6th December 2009

A Farewell Drink
You have your Dads smile Kev
2nd June 2010
Robin, Tua and Me

Robin Irwin the vet????
Hi, we found your blog whilst looking for our old friends Robin and Siteri Irwin. Perhaps you could send us a contact email for them if you have it, thanks very much, Jeff and Jose Allen
29th June 2010

well done!
great photos!
29th June 2010

well done!
great photos!
29th June 2010

well done!
great photos!
25th October 2010

Robin Irwin
Robin is a guy I worked with and knew well many years ago in Suva and I met up with him again in Savusavu about 5-6 years ago. I would like to contact him again - by email or phone so if you have either of these numbers i would be very grateful. Lovely story you tell and it brings back many happy memories. Kind regards, Mel Eden

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