Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Levuka, Ovalau Island

June 17, 2009—I wanted to share some of the pictures from our visit to the Ha'api.

The picture at the left is of a "talavala" or waist mat. The picture at the right is of the beach at Uoleva Island.

The two pictures above are of Emelina and her family.

This was the biggest fish that we have caught. Steve said that it was about the maximum weight that he could pull in with his hand line. It gave a good fight, but we won out in the end. Unfortunately, the line did some damage to our new varnish on the caprail, but it was worth it. The damage from the gaff wasn't too bad either. Now we have enough fish for quite awhile--the freezer is full.

We are at anchor in Levuka Harbor and rocking gently with the waves. We anchored by noon on the 13th and tried to pick up the boat just a bit. We called the Port Control about four times trying to get checked in; however, no one answered us. We found out later that we could have gone ashore in the dinghy to check in with Customs. Oh well, we were very tired so we just slept instead.

The next day was Sunday, which meant that everything was low key, and very few people are out except those going to church. We found out a bit late that Monday was the Queen’s birthday, so it was a holiday. That meant another day on the boat, but we used it to get some things done and didn’t really mind staying on the boat for another day.

Tuesday morning Steve went ashore and began the process of checking in. About an hour later he began shuttling officials out to the boat. They were not too keen on riding in our dinghy. Customs, Immigration, and Health all came aboard, and I served them lemonade and Snicker doodles, which disappeared very quickly. They were all very friendly. Unfortunately, Joe forgot his carbon paper (yes, some people still use carbon paper) so we had to fill out the same form multiple times. Our hands were cramping by the time we were done, but now we were official, which meant that we could go ashore.

As soon as Steve had shuttled everyone back to shore, we got dressed and took off for the dock. Levuka is the old capital of Fiji, and the main street looks similar to a frontier town in the states. The stores have false fronts, and the buildings are all wood. The people are so friendly and stop to talk with us as we pass them on the street. We are the only sailboat in the harbor, so we are the novelty here.

On our first day ashore we had a delicious pizza for lunch and then walked through town. We bought a few things at the grocery store and checked into tours at the dive shop. It rained pretty heavily all day long and through the evening, but that was good because it washed all the salt off the boat. Today we went in to pick up our cruising permit from the Lomaiviti Provincial Council. This allows us to go ashore anywhere in this province. We took a walk up the hillside where the sidewalk took us by many homes. The people all greeted us with “bula” for hello, and we responded in kind. We got a wonderful view of the harbor and “Linda” resting at anchor. We stopped for some Chinese food for lunch and then dropped off some laundry mainly the heavier items that are hard to hand wash.

It is quite humid today, so we were more than ready to return to the boat. Then Steve decided to go to town to get diesel and gasoline. The prices here are cheaper than in Tonga, which was a nice surprise. The exchange rate is very good—about 50 cents U.S. to the Fijian dollar. Our lunches have been inexpensive but large in portions. So far we are thoroughly enjoying Fiji and are anxious to get out and see more of it.

Tonight we went ashore to have dinner at the Whale’s Tale Restaurant. As we were pulling up to the dock, and I had my hand out to stop the dinghy from hitting the concrete, I happened to notice a sea snake on the wall just about where I was going to put my hand. Needless-to-say, I pulled my hand back, and we waited for it to slither away. When we returned to the dinghy after a very nice dinner, I was very careful to check for anything crawling around or in the dinghy.

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