Thursday, July 20, 2017

Bloody Snorkeling Off of Fiji

This morning our group woke up and agreed that while Fiji's main island, Viti Levu, was pretty nice it was not nearly isolated, beachy, and beautiful enough. Something had to be done. Luckily the one thing on today's agenda was to take a ferry to another one of Fiji's islands and do some snorkeling and have various other good times. Yes, let's.

My go-to conversation starter with the cab guys now is "what does bula mean?" This guy made bula sound like the "force" from Star Wars. "Bula means everything. When you says cheers in the bar we say Bula."

Today's destination was the northwestern speck of an island called Kuata, home of Barefoot Kuata Resort.

We were excited when we realized that our tickets were for the air conditioned Captain's Lounge. I don't know if we even paid more for this it was just that we booked our tickets way in advance.

I liked the ship's announcer lady because she would say everything in English then in Fijian. We didn't hear a whole lot of Fijian on this trip so it was a nice bit of added culture.

I had plenty of time to read about Fiji while we sailed along. My favorite Fijian history fact is that the first Christian missionary to the main island was eaten by the cannibalistic natives. His shoe leather just wouldn't cook so now his shoes sit in the national museum.

Our ferry was essentially an island bus and we made multiple stops. A boat or two would come out to collect the people who were stopped at each island and then we would continue on.

Then it was our turn to hop aboard a tiny swaying boat. 

When they were done loading the people they began loading random cargo. A box marked "fish". A big bundle of toilet paper rolls. It was clear they don't get a whole lot of visitors out this way.

As our bathroom tissue laden vessel approached the shore things got real. The wind had picked up and the boat's landing spot was pure volcanic rock. Getting out of the boat and onto shore took some effort.

Steph was looking majestic as she disembarked so I whipped out the ol' phone and took a few pictures. Lucky I did so because I was then able to capture Zoe's less triumphant first steps on Kuata.

There was a lot of falling. Keens, the waterproof adventure shoe, are pretty awesome in most situations but they are really slippery.

After a few good falls she gave up, sat down, and took off the shoes. It was a whole thing.

It wasn't long until the Keens came for me as well. I went from standing to sitting on sharp volcanic rocks in a blink. I got a pretty deep little gash in my hand and some elbow scrapes. The snorkeling in this area is famous for its shark-spotting and a couple fellow guests kiddingly remarked that they didn't want to be swimming next to the bloody guy when the sharks came. Lovely.

There was a dude in native dress with a spear or something high up on a perch but we were all too busy trying not crack our heads open to pay much attention.

We had a little chill out time at the resort before it was time to do some snorkeling.

Because of the wind they had us snorkel in a different area than usual so we never did see any sharks. Saw all sorts of other fish though.

Afterwards they had a really nice buffet set up for us. We found the piƱa coladas.

I overheard an Italian guy who'd come to dive with the sharks. He said he's done 250 dives since 2001.

Oddly the way to the boat home was at a different area of the island. Maybe there were so many casualties earlier today that they had to switch things up. 

This particular beach was covered in hermit crabs. I think that these little guys are fascinating. So hermit crabs are always on the lookout for new shells because if theirs is too small it can inhibit their growth. OK. So if a hermit crab finds a shell that it determines is too big it will sometimes hang out nearby and wait for a different crab to take the big shell and then it will grab the recently vacated shell. Well what can happen is more and more crabs will discover this situation, decide the shiny new shell is too big for them as well, and will wait in a line, smallest to largest, until a musical chairs style shell swap breaks out. Wikipedia calls this a "vacancy chain". How cool is that?

While we sat on the beach and waited for our ride we met a nice girl that is currently serving in the Peace Corps in Fiji and is working on getting a solar panel for her nearby island. She said that the Peace Corps lets you get to choose your post now. I was midway through the application process when life took me in a different direction, but not only did they not let you pick but I don't think they'd even tell you where they picked until you were committed. My paperwork just said "Africa".

By this point we were all very sandy and made a mess of the nice air conditioned cabin. The captain will not be pleased.

Back at the Port Denarau Marina more fire dances were happening.

This time we chose a nice Indian place to have a well earned dinner.

Figuring out who owed who with four people in a foreign currency was sometimes an involved process.

Back at the hotel. You say path light, lizards say heat lamp.

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