Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Special Day at Sea, Monday, April 22, 2013

Our 24th anniversary celebration was excellent, thanks to Bob and Carolyn.  We had an delicious meal in the Pinnacle (specialty) Restaurant.   

A yummy cake was part of the celebration and a surprise!

Plenty of bars to celebrate in.

We were even lucky in the casino!!  Richard, pictured here, is usually in the "cage" cashier and rarely gets an opportunity to deal.....he was nice to us......translated:  we won!

Dravuni, Fiji, Friday, April 19, 2013

We had to anchor and take a tender  to Dravuni.

After yesterday's stop in Suva, we were both looking forward to island with only 125 residents, a beach, a quiet day.

Notice the Union Jack in the upper corner.  Happens a lot in this part of the world.  Even in the Hawaii state flag.....mostly because of Capt. Cook.

Check the sign:  boat ride around the island for $10 person.....

We had no idea that we would get to see nearly ALL the 125 residents.......and the SCHOOL!!!!  

I mistook these for the boys....not so, they are the girls with VERY short hair....Check out the iPad!!!!!   There is no electricity on the island.  They have a generator which affords power for a few hours each evening.

The girls wear the green uniforms....the boys wear white shirts....and sarongs.

The "lower grade" teacher has been here for 2 years.  She has 8 children in her class, grades 1 and 2.

The "upper grade" teacher just arrived....he has only been here 3 months.  He also has 8 students in his class, grades 3 and 4.  After the fourth grade, students must go to a neighboring island for boarding school.  They are allowed to go home once a month for a 3 day weekend.  After the 8th grade, they must go to yet another island for high school.  You noted that THIS school has been open for only 10 years!  

The "day care"......they wear uniforms, too!

The toilet FLUSHES!!  But is an outhouse.

The two teachers share this home.....very modern and well equipped by island standards.  Each teacher has a bedroom and a shared bathroom.  

A peek at the rest of the tiny village....

Dravuni is a lush tropical island.....

Sitting on the edge of the surf for the rest of the is good on Dravuni Island, Fiji

Friday, April 26, 2013

Suva, Fiji, Thursday, April 18, 2013

Suva is the capital of the Fiji Islands

She has been a policewoman for 20 years

These guys were really in to their music.....could be heard for miles!

"Bula" is the greeting, the thank you, the how are you.....THE most important word in Fijian....and the more gusto the better, usually repeated twice:  "BULA, BULA!!!!"

These boats were tied together in pairs.  They are used to take provision to the outer, smaller islands.

Tappoo is a family name, very prominent in the Fiji Islands.  They own various businesses, this being the largest department store in the islands.  Obviously, they know how to cater to the tourists!

The marketing department welcomes the tourists with another band and this native dress!

I am shopping while Tom is diving.....ALMOST felt like home!

The Fiji population is nearly 50% Indian.....the clothing/shoe department was divided proportionally.

The male police wear skirts/sarongs, too!  ALMOST felt like home until I got back on the streets.....the noises, the smells, the languages, the skin colors all came in a rush.  The streets were an attack on the sensory system!

The municipal playground in Suva was quite different than those we found in NZ and Australia.

The outdoor markets, as opposed to the "lavish" indoor market, were more traditional.....raucous, smelly and cheaper!

One more chance for a SCUBA dive.  I had read that Fiji had some great dive sites.  Turns out that the world famous reefs are a few hours away.  But Suva SCUBA offers a good local dive.  The sign above was actually for a boat repair and dry dock facility.  But it applied for Greg Buxton, the SCUBA operation owner, as well.

Greg has a small, basic operation providing dive trips, SCUBA training, and air and equipment to local divers.

Seta is Greg's assistant, dive master, and today's boat captain, a Fijian who has spent some time in California.

Nancy and Craig are good divers from the Oosterdam who had also found Greg.  We seem to be the only 3 of the nearly 2000 on the ship that are interested in SCUBA.

The dive boat is a basic pontoon type but roomy and adequate for the seas today.

The diving was excellent with good visibility, a turtle, a couple of white tip reef sharks, many beautiful tropical reef fish including clowns in sea anemone and butterfly fish with long feathery dorsal fins.

Greg told us that this is a replica of the ancient canoes that the Polynesians used to spread throughout the South Pacific.

Returning from a great 2-tamk dive, Greg told us the story of some local divers whom he has been training to "deep sea" dive.  In Fiji, 4-6 local divers die from deep diving accidents.  They dive to over 70 meters (210+ ft) looking for sea cucumbers.  The cucumbers are an Asian delicacy and make a very lucrative market for Fiji.  There is controversy about training the divers for such dangerous work.  Greg's approach was that the young divers are going to do it anyway.  They should be given the best chance for survival and have the hell scared out of them.