September 24th, 2011
What a difference a day makes, ok three days at sea. We had a great passage last week, a fast downhill run that saw us cover 437nm in 72 hours. On the second day Steve reeled in a nice big Mahi, 4 foot!!! He was so long that when Steve was filleting him while it laid on the cockpit floor his tail was spilling into the cabin!!! Guess you know what we’ve been eating these days? We arrived in front of the pass here in Suva just at day break, perfect timing to navigate the reefs and obstructions and try to identify/find the navigational beacons. Contrary to everything that we heard check in was a snap, enough paperwork and carbon paper to bury a small child, but that’s exactly what we expected. We are anchored out in the front of the Royal Suva Yacht Club, only a short 15 minute walk from downtown, and with a secure spot to leave the dingy. It is hard to believe that we are only a few hundred miles from our last port/country as things are so different here.
Suva Harbour itself is a typical industrial port; stacks of freight containers line the shores, derelict, rusty fishing vessels crowd the bay, the smell of burning fuel whaffs on the breeze as the buzz of labouring generators fills your ears, and the water is a lovely shade of cloudy slime green, with the occasional rainbow and running shoe floating by. But is it surrounded by lush green hills and besides the industrial grit that dirties the buildings in this part of the city it is overall a very clean city, a big change from Tonga where every street, sidewalk and dirt path was littered with trash. And what a city it is; shopping malls, traffic lights, speeding cars, coffee shops, brand names, a cinema and all the other trimmings of modernity. With a large Fijian/East Indian population (brought here as indentured labour by the British to work the sugar cane plantations a couple hundred years ago) the back streets are mazes of Sari shops and bazaars, tailors and curry restaurants. On Saturday morning it was shoulder to shoulder, make way and Grandma can defend herself kinda crowds on the main streets-what a shock!!!
There is a giant municipal food market here, with prices half of what we were paying in Tonga. Can you believe it I even bought a bunch of fiddleheads the other day….FIDDLEHEADS here in Fiji!! Other than the best veggie collection we’ve seen yet you can find everything else you want or desire here: name brand or knockoff, quality or made in china and sold on the street corner. Not only are goods cheap but services are also, at $5 Fijian a kilo to get laundry washed/dried/pressed and folded you can imagine the size of the bags I dropped off over the weekend. The Yacht Club offers free fresh water on the dock and all water in Fiji is potable and treated so we don’t have to run the water maker in this dirty water. And, the icing on the cake is that showers ashore are free too, and they are HOT!!! I could count how many times on one hand since our water heater died in Panama City that we’ve had a hot shower. What a treat to stand under unlimited clean, hot water and not have to hold the shower nozzle above you head!
As most of you know the Rugby World Cup is on right now, and Fiji, like all the Pacific Islands, has rugby fever. The bar at the Yacht Club has been playing all the matches so we’ve even gotten a chance to watch some TV, unfortunately the Flying Fijians lost against Samoa on Sunday so the crowd was rather somber. But tonight is it Canada vs. Japan so I might put on my maple leaf and go support the home team. Combined with high speed wifi that is actually fast and the English language radio stations and update to news we are feeling like we are “back in touch” with the world. But all this “civilization” has it price and after all air conditioned stores and contact with crowds we are both suffering with the start of a sinus cold. Sounds like it is time to go out island again and so we will be departing Suva tomorrow, heading to the west side of Viti Levu where we’ll find some small uninhabited islands and clean clear ocean again. We will have internet again next week when we stop by Musket Cove Marina to check things out. Hope all is well with you; hear from you soon,