Taveuni Fiji, Part 2March 5, 2008 at 6:44 am | Posted in Travel, Travelogues | Leave a comment
Day 5 here in Fiji. Between the fact we aren’t doing a whole lot besides diving and eating so far (you’re pretty tired the rest of the day after diving), and the Internet access is so slow (and I have to sit in essentially a sauna to use it), I haven’t had much reason to update this more frequently. Finally found wireless Internet in a restaurant 30 min walk away.
The diving here is pretty much all it is cracked up to be with the exception of the visibility being decent but nothing spectacular like I was hoping (it is about 50-70 feet on average.) The health of the reef, and abundance and variety of coral and fish is incredible. Between Scott and me we are getting some good pictures and video footage (attached below.) Unfortunately 90% of what I’m photographic I don’t know what it is called.
The local dive operators are excellent. We go out at 8:30 AM or 1 PM each day for two dives and hang out at a remote beach for about 40 minutes in between dives. There haven’t been any major problems so far, although John either had a panic attack or something wrong with his air flow at about 108 feet yesterday when we were diving “The Great White Wall” and had to go to the surface with the divemaster leaving his dive buddy, Scott, behind. He still doesn’t know for sure what happened. Most of the dives have been above 80 feet which isn’t too big of a deal to have something go wrong and not be near your dive buddy as you can just go to the surface (just don’t hold your breath and pop your lungs when you do it.)
Most everyone likes to see the big stuff, but some of the most spectacular stuff is the tiniest or more hidden stuff, it’s just hard to spot. Some of the highlights include the blue spotted eel (never seen one), the sea snake, several sharks and a Manta Ray. The sea snakes are fascinating. They need to come up to the top of the water about every 45-60 minutes to breathe air. They are extremely poisonous and would kill a human in about 5 minutes if they bit you. Luckily their mouths are so small pretty much the only place the come bite you is on your ear lobe. My favorite so far was the Leopard Shark. Sometimes when we are resting at the beach a 2-foot baby shark will come in to shore right up to the sand.
The weather continues to be in the mid 80’s and extremely humid although one day it was quite breezy and felt cooler. Other than that, it is not comfortable be outside for long periods. The water temperature is the warmest I’ve encountered so far. It is about 86 degrees on the surface and 84 degrees 60 feet down. Scott, John and I are diving in only swim trunks and a swim shirt. Everyone else is wearing partial wet suits. It is interesting though that the local dive master is diving in a full wet suit with hood. They must be so used to the hot weather here that the water feels cold to them.
Lots of frogs come out at night around the resort, some pretty good size ones. We’ve had a couple bugs in the room but nothing to really speak of. There are mosquitoes but they haven’t been that bad. A little repellent keeps the away at night. I’ve only got a few bites and haven’t come down with the Dengue Fever (which was the only thing I read that you really have any chance of catching and I think it is pretty rare.)
The food continues to be decent, but nothing special – pretty mediocre but not bad considering where you’re at. Scott was getting sick of it and special ordered a bowl of pasta last night because they had none on the menu. I spoke with the manager of the resort and his wife last night and got a little history on the resort and the island. The place is coming back from being in a slump several years ago as it was mismanaged. It is currently changing owners. Supposedly the owner of the NY Giants is buying it and owns a ton of land here as he’s been coming to Fiji for 27 years. They expect the resort will be refurbished.
I found out the average wage for the local staff is $2.50 an hour, that’s Fijian which is about $1.50 an hour US. This place could be quite profitable as it grows and improves in the future. It really is pretty old and basic but suits the purpose well for dive groups who don’t need fancy accommodations and amenities. The staff is exceedingly friendly, and calls you by your first name. You feel as if you’ve been friends with these people for a long time. We enjoy talking with them every night after dinner drinking Kava with them. My favorite local is George, the local Police Chief. He comes and drinks Kava with us some nights while he is on duty. Last night he was off duty and was the bass guitar player for the small 4-person band that plays every night. One thing that is interesting is the locals are fascinated by my strange looking sandals (the ones that look like fingers are wrapped over your feet.) When I walk into the small little group of run-down shops next door everyone always stares at my feet. I’ll try to remember to get some pictures of us with our new found friends.
Even though technically the country’s majority religion is supposedly Hindu, this island is primarily Catholic which is probably a close second behind Hindu if not a tie. The reason is many years ago when they were at war with Tonga/Samoa a Catholic priest gave the chief a cross and said it would help them win the war. They won the war and as a result, many of the Islanders converted to Catholicism. John went with a local guy from the dive boat to see the historic Catholic Church down the road.
The group we are with is a nice group of people. Everyone is in there mid 40’s to early 50’s I’d say with the exception of Scott and I and maybe a couple other people. Most of them are very well traveled and have very interesting stories to tell about the places they’ve been all over the world. One couple has re-affirmed my strong desire to visit Bali some day. They said it was even cheaper than Fiji. I also met two different Germans here traveling by themselves. One was out of college traveling the world for a year and the other was a middle-aged guy. When the resort had no vacancy the second night the middle-aged guy was here, the dive boat dropped him off at another resort which could only be described as Gilligan’s Island in real life. It was incredibly rustic/remote and small, only accessible by boat. More like a large shack than a resort. I should have taken a picture. He’s nuts.
Scott paddled across half the strait the other day to this tiny island (about the size of Green Lake). He was going to explore the interiors but didn’t as there were 8 foot diameter spider webs blocking his way with big spiders with yellow legs. I don’t think I’ll be going over there.
We are going golfing tomorrow morning A 9-hole par 3 course. No greens fees. Free clubs and balls. You just have to buy a beer or a pizza and Coke. This ought to be interesting. That’s all for now.
Links to videos: