Having lived on Paw Paw for more than three years now, there is one thing that we have both learnt - Whatever you do, do not plan too far ahead in any way shape or form. While sailing, and the sailing lifestyle, generally keeps you in the moment, in many ways you have no choice.
For instance, planning a departure date for a passage can change in a moment due to an injury or unfavourable weather that was not forecasted or an outing has to be cancelled because something unexpected occurrs on the yacht which takes precedence. As a result, we have a little routine. While eating breakfast, we discuss what we have to do versus what we want to do for the day and, today epitomised why.
Roy simply lifted one of the bunk seats in the saloon to do his monthly task of resetting the solar controller, only to discover water that definitely should not have been there. Then, all of a sudden we hear the wind generator making a very strange noise a nd come to a grinding halt. With that our day began.
We spent the entire morning replacing the fresh water pump and drying out all the bunks and contents that were soaked with water. Then we dismantled our wonderful wind generator, again, and applied some more "lipstick on the pig" by replacing the rectifier, again. Elaine has promised that if this particular piece of equipment stops working one more time, it is becoming an offering to Neptune.
Unfortunately our day ended on the same note it started. We thought we'd made arrangements to meet Georgia (Chris and Paul) and their visitors ashore for a barbecue, but something must have got lost in translation, since no one arrived. Given that the wind was howling anyway and it turned chilly, we decided to return to Paw Paw for a barbecue in the comfort of our own home instead.
We did, however, enjoy a light lunch followed by an exercise walk ashore this afternoon and got the laundry done. Guess it was a productive day after all.
With the wind picking up this morning we decided to stay onboard until mid-afternoon, before heading ashore for an exercise walk and a coffee, following which we took a stroll to Dick's Place in order to participate in the "kava" ceremony that took place this evening. A less formal affair than the traditional "sevusevu", it was nonetheless interesting to hear that the ceremony we participated in is similar to what "native" Fijian undertake at the end of their work day, primarily as a social event, versus the more formal traditional ceremony that occurs when a chief is installed or at a wedding, etc.
During a traditional "sevusevu" everyone wears the traditional "masi", which is cloth made from the bark of the paper mulberry tree and is the material worn on most ceremonial occasions. During the formal ceremony there is complete silence and a special mix of "yaqona", known as" iSevusevu Ni Vanua" is prepared by members of the "vanua", a term us ed to identify people within a geographical area as being related through common ancestory and recognises their affinity with and ownership of the land. Once prepared, the "iSevusevu Ni Vanua" is transferred to a "bilo", a half coconut shell and served by the "tu yaqona", the cupbearer. Both in the formal and less formal ceremonies there is a specific order in which the liquid is served, starting with the guest of honour(s), then the males in order of eldest, then the woman and children, again eldest first.
We also learnt that presenting "kava" when visiting a village on any of the outer islands only needs to occur if you actually go ashore. So, just anchoring off a village for a night or two does not require the presentation. That explains why the villagers of Nalauwaki Bay on Waya Island were not too bothered about our presence while anchored out. It was a relief though to know we hadn't actually offended anyone.
It was also interesting to learn that one of the Tongan kings came to Fiji, laying claim to roughly one third of the Fijian islands and bringing with him the "kava" (aka pepper plant) from Tongan. As a result the "kava" from which the "yaqona" drink is made is the same species in both countries as apposed to Samoa, the Solomon Islands or Papua New Guinea, where the "kava" is much stronger.
Although not a cheap drink, where a bundle of "kava" is the same price as a bottle of whisky, "yaqona" tastes like muddy water and has a mild numbing effect around the lips. Apparently, taking it in too large a quantity intoxicates you, while keeping your mind clear, but it can also render you paralysed until the effects wear off or cause vomiting. Fortunately we don't have to worry about any of these side effects, given that we both only had a single "bilo" each.
Today we decided to do something different. Being a Sunday, we attended the service at the local village church. The predominant religion in Fiji is Methodist, so it was no surprise then that the denomination of this village church was indeed Methodist. Having the pastor deliver the service in her barefeet while wearing her robes though, left us in no doubt that we were on a South Pacific island.
The resort arranged transportation for ourselves and a host of their other guests, which took us to the southwestern side of Malolo Lailai Island, where the village is located. The little church itself was on top of the hill overlooking the turquoise waters towards Momi Bay on Viti Levu Island. The original church was destroyed by one of the worst tropical cyclones to hit Fiji, Oscar, in 1983, so it was rebuilt with the interior of the roof weaved entirely from coconut palm leaves. While the building itself was very basic, the ceiling / roof was defi nitely its feature. Unique and beautiful!
We also learnt that the lantern burning at the front of the church has been lit continously for just over two years and will stay lit until 1st March 2018, as a reminder of the pledge that the villagers have made to give up "kava", alcohol and tobacco. What we found interesting about this is that, although "kava" is an integral part of the Fijian culture, this village had pledged to give it up.
What was more interesting, was the fact that many of the villages on the resort islands are actually "employee" villages, comprising Fijian's from all over Fiji that come to work in the resorts. Part of their employment conditions is that they have to reside in these villages and are then transported back to their "native" villages to spend their days off. The number of days that they get off depend on the shift they are allocated, which is also dependent on the role that they perform at the resort. For example, six days on and one day off or nine days on and three dsys off or twenty-one days on and five days off. Although the villagers are away from their families during their stay in the "employee" village, these are fully functioning villages, with the village church, traditional cooking, gardening etc. So, all the boats we've seen ferrying people back and forth to the various islands every day are not, in fact, ferrying workers to and from work every day, but rather getting villagers to and from their "native" villages at the start and end of their days off.
Although we already think that the Fijian people are amongst the friendliest and most welcoming we have met throughout all of our sailing adventures, we definitely have a higher regard for them now, considering what they give up in order to work and cater to guests in the resorts.
We also received an official welcome to the Malolo village, which is traditional in Fiji. However, in this instance, it was not a "sevusevu" ceremony due to the villagers giving up "kava", but rather an elder from the village addressing us during the church service.
Feeling enlightened by our experience this morning, we dinghied out to the sandbar for some snorkeling this afternoon before returning to Paw Paw for what we thought was going to be a lazy evening aboard. Then Georgia (Chris and Paul) and their visitors stopped by to invite us ashore for drinks at the MCYC Island Bar. Needless to say, we didn't have to be asked twice and enjoyed another round of sundowners as the sun dropped below the horizon.
It was a bittersweet morning as we bid farewell and waved our goodbyes to all the participants of the 2017 World ARC fleet as, one by one, they passed by Paw Paw, especially Ain't Fancy (Betina and Dirk) and Take Off (Louise and Jorgan). It was very evident that, although our original plan was to rejoin the rally from Fiji and this fleet in particular, Elaine is definitely not fit enough to cross an ocean right now, never mind two and making the decision to take our time getting to Australia this sailing season has indeed been a wise one.
It was a little disappointing, although not expected, when we never received a single invite from the organisers to attend one of the World ARC functions this past week. Given that we were the only other World ARC yacht in the anchorage from a past rally and the fact that we had paid for all the events from Tahiti to Australia which we never used lasy year, a gesture of goodwill would have been very much appreciated. Regardless though, it was lovely to learn that so many of the yachts were following our blog and indeed praised it.
As the fleet sailed out of view, Elaine enjoyed a swim off the back of Paw Paw, while Roy worked on, what is now, our new look and feel website. By then it was time to head ashore for a light lunch and an exercise walk.
This evening we enjoyed sundowners at Dick's Place and another barbecue aboard.
The past two days we've had early starts again, primarily to catch buses. Yesterday we headed to Nadi for Elaine's doctor's appointment, followed by her physiotherapy appointment, which ended up taking up most of the morning and feeling more like a torture chamber, since the physiotherapist had to work to get all the spasms out off both Elaine's feet and legs, after her disastrous walk last week. Fortunately it also marked a major milestone in her rehabilitation; although really difficult, weight-bearing strength training has started. Feeling a little overwhelmed by it all, we have made the decision to rather return to Malolo Lailai for at least the next two weeks rather than sailing around the other Yasawa Islands, which will allow Elaine to focus all her attention on this, all important, final stage of her recovery.
On our return to Port Denarau, we enjoyed lunch at Cardo's before the morning caught up with Elaine. Exhausted she spent the remainder of the afternoon in bed. We did, however, head ashore in the evening for an ice-cream and to enjoy the Fijian Dance Show.
Roy also surprised Elaine with a gift to help her monitor this final stage of her recovery and beyond; a fitbit. Very nifty device indeed!
Today we had a lovely surprise just before boarding our bus to Nadi / Lautoka en route to the airport. Roy bumped into Take Off (Louise and Jordan) from last year's World ARC in the marina office. They then accompanied him to the bus stop, to see Elaine, where she was waiting for Roy.
After catching up with them, we spent the rest of the day collecting our parcel from the post office at the airport and provisioning. Eventually received this parcel meant Roy was able to fix the last of the issues that occurred on our passage from hell; the mast winch. We also squeezed in an inexpensive lunch at one of the local Indian restaurants, before returning to Paw Paw for our 4th July "celebrations" aboard.
The day ended on the best note possible ; facetiming the family in Oregon and having William actually call Elaine "grandma" for the first time. Needless to say, her heart simply melted! Numerous attempts to get him to say "grandpa" failed, however, since he kept repeating a very enthusiastic "hi" to Roy.