Fiji - Cruising the Yasawas and Denerau

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April 1st 2012
Published: April 2nd 2012
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Hi All!!

It's been a while since the last blog but we're online and able to write again!!! Not long now until we're home...I'm so excited!!

Anyway, we said goodbye to Uncle Geoff, Auntie Caroline and family and said our final goodbyes to Nana and left Suva. We took the bus back to Nadi but due to it being full, we were not able to sit together. My luck meant that I ended up being sat behind a woman who was travel sick and threw up quite a few times. The smell nearly made me sick!! Luckily the person next to Anton got off the bus halfway through the journey and I was then able to move away from the sick and sit next to Anton. We booked into a local hotel in Nadi for a couple of days before we began our cruise around the Yasawas. It was so lovely to have a couple of days rest and we even managed to get in some sunbathing!!

We got picked up from our hotel on 13th March and taken to Denerau Marina in order to board our Captain Cook cruise ship. A small tender took us to the ship and when we boarded we were greeted by singing and given a shell necklace and a glass of punch; it was so lovely. The ship was a bit old but it was clean, comfortable and all the staff were wonderful. There were about 50 other passengers which meant it was small enough for us to get to know people. We were given a welcome briefing, collected our snorkell and masks and were taken straight out to a small island called Tivua to snorkell and sunbathe. The current was quite strong and I ended up getting pulled toward some coral which cut my elbow; I was more worried that I had damaged the coral though! When we left the island, our tender got stuck and Anton had to get out and help push with all the men but they weren't strong enough and we all ended up having to get out and then wade into the water to get back on the boat! Back onboard the ship we were told that the first dinner was the Captains Dinner and we had to make an effort with our attire. Fortunately I had purchased a couple of dresses in Suva so felt suitably dressed. Anton, on the other hand, didn't have a shirt or even a polo shirt and his only trousers were jeans. After debating how to make him look a bit smarter, we had a idea to dress him Fiji style, so he wore a sulu (sarong), t-shirt and shells around his neck. All the staff thought it was great that he had made such an effort to get into the Fiji spirit; little did they know that he had nothing else to wear! That night we had a lovely three course meal and got chatting to a lady called Joan who was a widow from Australia. We're not sure how we do this but we seem to book the trips that a lot of older people like to do! We're not sure what that says about us but I think it just means that we like quality!!!! Anyway, Joan was the life and soul of the party and made us laugh a lot. The staff put on a small show at the end of the meal and I ended up being dragged up to dance. Anton quite happily thought he had got away with it until Joan pulled us both up to the dance floor to do a slow dance together! There was only one other couple on the dance floor and they could dance, Anton and I didn't have a clue and ended up shuffling around the floor!! We felt lots of eyes watching us and decided that we really need to learn to dance before we get married!!

The breakfast the next morning was so vast that you could have eaten something different every day for at least a week! After breakfast we took the tender to Drawaqa Island. We snorkelled from the boat to the beach and then Anton went with the diving instructor to have a practise ready for an intro dive the next day; I lazed on the beach and read. Back on the tender we were missing two passengers and waited ages for them but they didn't turn up. They even sent a crew member to run around the island looking for them but they couldn't be found. In the end, the tender headed back to the ship to drop us off before heading back to look for the missing passengers but when we arrived they were waving at us all from the ship having come back earlier on another tender without telling our guide. He wasn't too happy and were all pretty fed up with having to wait for nothing! At lunch we chatted to a Canadian couple called John and Tracy who were on holiday for their 25th Wedding Anniversary. We were shocked as they looked like they were in their 30's; I even thought they may have been on their honeymoon. They were really nice and easy to get on with. We spent the afternoon on the boat and then got ready in our Fiji attire to go across to a village on Naviti Island called Gunu. We had to make sure our knees and shoulders were covered in order to not offend the villagers. We met the villagers and they put on a hanicraft market for us where we bought a couple of Lei's and a coconut to drink. We were going to watch a Kava ceremony where the ship's spokesperson offered the village a Kava root and the village chief gave a bowl of Kava to two of the ships passengers. Florian, the ship's purser, asked Anton if he would take part in the ceremony and accept a bowl of Kava from the village chief. He was more than willing and felt very lucky to be asked. We enjoyed a traditional lovo on the island and watched a meke (song and dance) performed by the villagers before heading back to the ship for a night cap.

The next morning we cruised to Sawa-l-lau Island. Once achored we were taken out on the tender to 'The Blue Lagoon' which was where the film with the same name was filmed. We snorkelled again and were able to see a lot of fish. I spotted a family of clown fish in amongst an anenome; the baby was so small! We were told by the onboard marine biologist that the female clown fish is very large and stays mostly out of the anenome and the males and babies stay in the anenome. If the female gets eaten or dies, then a male will come out of the anenome, change sex to a female and grow 4 or 5 times its own size in the space of 24hrs! This information made us question the film 'Finding Nemo' as Nemo's mum died but his dad remained a man!!! After snorkelling I sunbathed on the beach whilst Anton went out snorkelling again; he can't get enough! He kept finding lots of beautiful shells and bringing them back to me and after a while of them being on my towel, I started to see little legs appear and the shells begin to move; they were all inhabited by hermet crabs! After lunch we were taken to Ratu Namasi School on the island. We had to walk through the village in the hot sun to reach the school and by the time we sat down in one of the classrooms to be welcomed by the children, Anton was sweating. Now, this wasn't just beads of sweat on his forehead, it was actually pouring of his face, his arms and his legs; I have never seen anyone look so sweaty!! He was very aware that people were looking at him too, which made it even worse! After about 20mins it calmed down and he looked more normal. We listened to some beautiful singing by the pupils; they even sang a song that we do in school but it was sang in Fijian which was lovely. After the welcome we were greeted by a little boy called Akuila who grabbed us and was so eager to show us around his school. He was so enthusiastic and I loved seeing how different and similar the school was to ours in England. After the school we were taken to the Sawa-l-lau Caves to swim in the fresh was cave was cold!! Some of the crew were climbing up the rocks and jumping from massive heights into the water and of course Anton wanted a go. I was worried as I knew our insurance wouldn't cover us for that but up he went! The rocks were much more slippery than the crew made them look, so Anton didn't make it up as far but enjoyed jumping in. There was a hole in a rock that legend said, if a pregnant woman tried to enter, however small she was, she wouldn't get through. If a really big woman, who is not pregnant, tried to enter the hole, then she would get through. I didn't want to try it either way!!! Back at the ship we sat with Tracy and John and another couple called Rob and Jan for dinner. Rob and Jan were very happy when they were talking about themselves - we'll say no more!! After dinner, they had a hermet crab race. They had six crabs which we had to bid for. Our table pooled our money and put in a bid for $60 for crab 4 and crab 5 but we were unsuccessful both times. It was still fun to watch the race though. Joan grabbed Anton for a slow dance with her; bless him, he looked so awkward!!!

The next day Anton went off for a dive and I went to Matacawalevu Island for the morning to read and sunbathe. It was so strange not to have Anton around and I really missed him! When we got back to the ship Anton was already back. He said the diving was amazing and so colourful but just wished I had been there to see it with him! We enjoyed another snorkell and sunbathe in the afternoon. That night we had canapes a pre dinner drinks with Tracy and John and sat with them for a Fijian themed feast at dinner. John knew I liked chocolate, so before our table was even called up to get desserts, he went up and collected three chocolate eclairs and placed them in front of me! I recieved some strange looks from other diners and only ended up eating one of them before passing the plate to Tracy. We were treated to an after dinner show by the crew and then went back to our room to pack for our departure in the morning.

We left the ship on 17th March and were taken back to Denerau. We said our goodbyes to the lovely people we had met and boarded the shuttle bus to the Denerau hotels. We booked into a hotel for one night as we were offered Tracy's house (Anton's cousin in Sydney) in Denerau from the 18th. We stayed in the Soffitel which was very luxurious and not really meant for backpackers but I certainly felt more at home there! We had a lovely day by the pool and enjoyed having drinks brought to our loungers - I could certainly get used to that kind of living!! We had a fabulous nights sleep and left the next morning to spend our last four days in Tracy and Andrews house, which was just down the road. Their house was stunning and backed onto a golf course (for those of you that know Linda was very her!!!).

We spent a few relaxing days by their pool and enjoyed going into the port for the evening for dinner. I happened to pick up a bit of a cold so was very happy to do very little! One evening we came back from dinner to find a cockroach by the bedroom. We both dislike creepy crawlies but Anton was very brave and killed it! That same night, I walked into the kitchen and saw the biggest spider I have ever seen in my life! It wouldn't have even fitted under a glass. Whilst almost hyperventilating I called Anton and we were both petrified together. Neither of us could go near it, so we got the idea of getting the hoover. Anton tried to suck it up but was too scared to get close to it incase it jumped! It was so big that it was larger than the hose! It ran across the wall close to the kitchen window, so we opened the window and used the hoover hose to shoo it out the window. It was such an ordeal that we were both shuddering at the thought of it. Anton was then paranoid so checked everywhere in the bedroom before we went to bed and found another cockroach, which he killed and then we pulled out the matress to find other large (but not so large as the last one) spider on the headrest. This one he was able to catch under a glass but ended up catching his legs and he ended dieing as a result. After that night we were constantly looking for spiders and cockroaches but were lucky that we didn't find any more!

We left Fiji on 22nd and took a 10hr night flight to Los Angeles!!

Lots of Love to you all, from Kate and Anton xxxxxx

Not long now our special little people!!!! xxxxxxxxx

ps Special thanks to Kathleen for allowing us to use her computer to write this blog! x

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2nd April 2012

Your Fiji blog was so lovely and photos of the family, we love the one with Nana. What a wonderful time you had on the Yasawa cruise, you both look so tan. Fancy being scared of a small helpless spider!! made us laugh. but ok with other dangerous challenges. Glad you stayed at Tracy and Andrew's place. I used to love the early morning stroll to Denerau to get the papers and long loaf bread. We got excited to read the bit about learning to dance before you get married. Wow!! watching this space. Glad you left before the big floods in Nadi. We look forward to seeing you and hearing all the wonderful things, writing your blog was amazing which made us feel we were there especially the places where you stayed with relaties and photos. I will be in Lourdes on your return, will light a special candle for you both at the Grotto and pray for your happiness together. Love you!!!
2nd April 2012

Enjoyable Reading
Well I've been following your blog since you started and naturally it has made me wanderlust since I do love to travel. Reading your blogs have been very enjoyable. The photos you have taken are great. Combined it gives you a sense of being there (wishful thinking) so now that your travels are almost to an end you sure do have lots of memories and stories to tell. Glad that you made San Francisco one of your stops. Happy and Safe Travels, Kathleen
5th April 2012

You will be counting the days now
Hi you two, loved the latest blog you had lovely weather and perfect seas it seemed. You visited lovely islands too. The photos were great as always, and they give everyone insight to what you saw, everyone and everywhere seemed very welcoming. Now you have moved on enjoy large and loud America, very different to Fiji eh! Just getting you both ready for your return to cold wintery England as we have had a very cold spell over the last few days, and Easter is going to be wet here in Plymouth. Everyone is well here, Martin is off to Prague for a few days, and Sophie off to Marbella next weekend on stag and hen dos. Take care of each other and see you when you return home. Love Jackie xx
9th April 2012

Hi Guys Nearly at an end of your fabulous journey. I am coming to Plymouth early August and can't wait to see you all again. Safe journey home next Thursday. Annie

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