June 22, 2019
Today was boat repair, school, and a hike to the radio tower. Joe helped Aurora B replace some broken coolant hoses and refill the coolant so they are back in action. Poor Manihi is taking on water but no diagnosis as to why.
All the ARC boats finished clearing Customs and Immigration today and all but five left to go to the Bay of Islands. Those of us that stayed behind decided it was too late in the day to risk maneuvering among the reefs and coral heads. Besides, there was a hike to the radio tower!
After the hike, we went to see where Andrew and Swade (ARC staff) were staying. They travel along with us and are the ones that do all the legwork with the local officials to arrange our clearance or parties or whatever. Normally they stay in hotels near the main anchorage but, in this case, there are no hotels so they stayed in a guest house with a local family. The family has three children. The oldest was driving the boat that ferried Swade and Andrew around the anchorage and we met the other two this afternoon.
Pictured are Sila, 13, and Daniel, 8. They both speak good English and let us play on the beautiful grounds of their beachside home, covered in a lovely soft grass. The boys and most of the men had a pick-up game of rugby while Tully chased a puppy around and Marin, Eva, and Sila chatted away.
Before the hike, we stopped by the small store to buy cava root. In Tonga, we learned that in order to use the water, beaches, etc near a small village, it is customary to present the local chief with a gift of cava (a root that numbs the mouth and tongue and has a relaxing effect on a person). So I went to the market, asked for cava, and bought what they showed me, which was small packets of dust. Upon reading more, I realized that the chiefs don’t want the root ground up – they want the whole root. Part of the cava ritual is the preparation and grinding of the root. Basically, I bought the wrong thing.
The islands we will be visiting in the next week are even more remote than this one, with no stores or cava available. This is a bigger problem because we only have 200 Fijian dollars (~$100 US) to last us until the ATM at Taveuni and no way to get more. So, I had to decide between buying cava root or saving the cash for groceries. I went for the cava root – we always seem to manage to get enough to eat. If you see the photo, you’ll see why it feels like a racket – I spent $32 for 400 grams of gnarled sticks. Hopefully the chiefs will like them!
We came back to Charm, cooked dinner, and will leave tomorrow around 9 am for the Bay of Islands which is at the north end of the island where we are currently anchored.
Several of the boats are departing the fleet in Fiji and more will be leaving in Australia so it’s a bittersweet time as boats we’ve befriended are heading out to other adventures or home. Jo from Tintin (my running partner) has already left and her husband, Rob, will follow her soon. Nica is off to explore New Zealand, and RAID will be the first kid boat to leave, headed home to Switzerland after a few more weeks in Fiji.
More boats will join in Australia, including a French boat with two boys, aged 9 and 12, who have grown up in Vietnam.