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Published: February 6th 2010
While most people are familiar with Tahiti, not so many have been to some of the more remote South Pacific islands. Although on the surface most of these islands look the same—palm trees, sand and verdant mountains--they are in fact very different both culturally and economically. So as we hopscotch across the Pacific we get to experience Polynesian, Melanesian, French, English and Indian lifestyles and influences.
Our first port was supposed to be Samoa. However, en route we encountered the tail end of a cyclone and had to cancel that call. We had been looking forward to visiting the fabled Aggie Grey’s hotel and also to check out the effects of the recent tsunami. The tsunami struck without warning in September and caused tremendous damage and loss of life. I’m sure an infusion of tourist dollars would have helped in the rebuilding efforts. But because of the heavy weather the ship had to slow down and in order to stay on schedule we sailed directly to Fiji. Captain Dag called the storm a little gale and said that in Norway it would be considered a fall breeze. With 60 knots of wind and 30’ seas, some people felt uncomfortable and Dr
EVY TO THE RESCUE
WAIT! IT'S JUST THE STORE MANNEQUIN.
Tinkle took a tumble resulting in a few stitches. But we all weathered the storm fine and actually it was quite interesting to watch the churning ocean from the fantail of the ship.
It was nice just having an extra sea day. Several of the benefits of sailing in this part of the world are the sunrises and sunsets. Since we don’t close our curtains at night we are awakened in the morning by spectacular sunrises and skies filled with orange, red and yellow streaks. It is the same with the sunsets. Even the moonrise is a sight to behold. I wish we had an astronomer aboard because I would like to know why the moon is a different shape in this hemisphere. It is more of an ovoid or egg shape down here than the rounded shape we are used to seeing up north.
The Fijian population is an unusual mixture of Indians and Fijians. During British occupation many Indians immigrated in order to work in the sugar industry. In recent years there has been a great deal of conflict between the two ethnic groups and as a result of a coup in 2006, Fiji is under
a military dictatorship. This doesn’t affect the average traveler to these pretty islands which are famous for their clear waters, attracting divers from all over the world. But it does seem strange to see so many mosques and Hindu temples in an island setting.
We went on an old trawler style boat called “Oo-La-La” to the nearby island of Savala for a day of snorkeling, and beachcombing. Last month a cyclone rearranged the entire shape of this island by shifting huge amounts of sand from one end to the other. A few of our travel mates were dive bombed by nesting birds trying to protect their eggs. The water visibility was still impaired by all the movement of sand, but it was just nice to be in the warm water.
We went into town for a look-around but Lautoka isn’t really a tourist haven and besides it was Sunday, so nothing much was open. We went to the Lautoka Hotel for a plate of curry and then took the long walk back to the ship. The day was as hot as the curry. Along the way we passed the sugar mill and the wood chipping operation, the main
industries in Fiji.
Vanuatu is a very agrarian and undeveloped group of 83 islands. We were told that there are still cannibals on some of the outer islands. Most of the people live “natural.” That is they do not work for money but they live on the land gathering or growing all of their food.
When we were last here in 2002, we flew to Tanna Island and hiked to the rim of one of the more active volcanoes in the world. It was probably our most arduous and adventurous excursion ever. This time we went on a 60’ sailboat out to Paradise Cove for our final day of swimming in the South Pacific. We fed thousands of small fish and kayaked around the edge of the cove and learned why the islanders call the coconut tree “Mother.” Every bit of the tree is usable for food or clothing or shelter or weapons or baskets. It is the main life-sustaining product on these remote islands.
Our last stop on this segment of the cruise was in Noumea, New Caledonia. This is a more affluent Tahiti because of it large reserves of minerals like nickel and copper. It
HANDCRAFTED FROM COCONUT PALM FRONDS. Bruce Cay Photo.
is more French than France and a true melting pot of various cultures. New Caledonia boasts the largest coral lagoon in the world.
We spent the day at the Tina Golf Course with Hilda and Jarmo. We enjoyed a superbly beautiful course filled with scarlet flame trees, mangrove swamps, bamboo and palm trees and stunning views of the ocean and coral lagoon. Kevin and Jarmo got in their fair share of swings and didn’t manage to get a “trou en un” -that’s a hole-in-one in French. Hilda and I served as their cart drivers, scorekeepers and caddies. We thoroughly enjoyed the golf outing with Hilda and Jarmo, our shipboard neighbors and cruising buddies.
Now we’re off to the land of “Oz”—Australia—the biggest “island” in this part of the world.
Tot: 2.166s; Tpl: 0.019s; cc: 31; qc: 120; dbt: 0.0447s; 2; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.6mb