So, each time we spotted a reef and alter course to avoid it, we added it to our chart plotter as a reef waypoint for when we sail back this way. Makes us feel a bit like chart-makers and explorers in a very minor way.
The anchorage at Blue Lagoon turned out to be very well sheltered, with not a trace of swell to make us rock and roll, and there are a number of tourist resorts around it, ranging from the hideously expensive to ones catering for back-packers. One of the lower-priced outfits, Coralview, is owned and run by local Fijians and we learned that they organised a Lovo (food cooked in an earth pit) and dancing evening each Saturday; a number of boat crews were going so, with a bit of trepidation about joining the 'tourist trail', we also signed up.
It was a very entertaining evening (apart from the conga!). The food cooked in the Lovo - chicken, pork, cassava, sweet potatoes and spinach cooked in coconut milk - was properly Fijian and delicious whilst the dancing display was great. The finale was outside with two of the male dancers demonstrating some wonderful fire dancing.
|Opening up the Lovo - the boys must have asbestos fingers|
|The pig, cooked in a palm-frond basket|
|Making this look easy|
|Getting more complex|
|Sitting on your mate's shoulders, twirling firesticks - you did risk-assess this didn't you?|
After all that we were very glad to be ferried back to our boats in the pitch black over some very shallow reefs - the boatman could obviously do the trip with his eyes shut and just nonchalantly shone his torch out a couple of times to light up the reef-marker poles which obediently appeared just where he expected them to be. When we motored out of the anchorage in Maunie this morning, we did it a lot slower and with some nervous glances as the clear water made the coral look only a couple of feet below the surface!
Today we have moved up to an island called Sawa-i-Lau where there are some impressive caves to visit in the morning. The weather front that's been forecast for the past week or so is due to pass over us tomorrow, bringing cloud and maybe even rain (the first for several weeks here) so it'll be a good day to be anchored; a chance to catch up on some boat maintenance and so on. We'll be heading back to New Zealand in 3 or 4 weeks' time so we're starting the preparations for what could be a challenging passage.