Fiji….our thoughts were along the lines of a tourist destination close to Australia full of holiday makers….we could not have been more wrong! The islands and reefs are a mecca for all those with a passion for being underwater.
We cleared in and completed customs and immigration on the island of Vanua Balavu (part of the northern Lau group in the remote east of Fiji) in the village of Daliconi. A kava ceremony with the village Chief was held and only then were we considered welcome visitors. Post a bus/truck ride across the island to top up on supplies, visit the hospital and meet some of the colourful locals we headed to the Bay of Islands (not NZ), a superb series of limestone outcrops and tiny islands floating in the turquoise waters. Best way to explore?… a dinghy safari! The testosterone levels rose, outboards were revved and about 15 rubber duckies took to the peaceful and pristine waters on a snorkelling adventure like no other. The coves offered up caves for swimming and diving while colourful coral was in abundance.
From Somosomo (Taveuni) to Savusavu (Vanua Levu) we scuba dived on the amazing Rainbow Reef, climbed to waterfalls high up in the humid tropical greenery, dined in basic “Wine and Dine” establishments, cuddled the kids, visited the famous Jean Michel Cousteau Resort, stood on the 180 latitude mark (one foot in today and one in yesterday) danced in a conga line and drank kava with the locals and along with Christopher & Sue and Jenny & Greg Moynihan continued to be astounded by the surprises Fiji threw at us.
Life can change as quickly as the flick of a switch – while anchored in beautiful Viani Bay we received the news that Mag, James and Christopher’s mother had passed away on the Gold Coast. Jenny sorted out our flights and within days we were winging our way back to Australia, planning the small intimate family funeral, celebrating the life of my much respected mother-in-law with words of love and shared selected memories of her ninety years. Twice now, in our 12 months at sea, I have lost a woman who I have held in high esteem as progressive women with open minds and hearts who have made a huge impact on my life. A reminder to us all that we need to live each day to its fullest – this was one of the mantras that my mother -in- law passed on to me. I intend to do exactly that! Rest in peace Mag!
The snapshot visit home gave us a taster of our life post Rally. Cars, shopping malls, stressed people, time constraints, occupational health and safety standards…but also sleeping in a stable bed, going out at night without a wet behind, but most of all, spending precious time with family.
One lesson that we have learned is that plans are meant to be changed. Our intention was always to sail into Australia – our way home after 12 years plus away. The past months in the South Pacific have been amazing and the decision has been made to return here next year to visit new, and revisit some of the fabulous places we have been privy to. Long story short, we will now take Miss Tiggy to Auckland for her summer break and face lift and fly back to Australia in mid November.
Now back at sea the journey continues – there is still plenty of Fiji left to explore!