Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

The day the Marshmallows invaded Dravuni

When we arrived at the island of Dravuni (the most northern of the Astrolabe Reef islands) last week, we found a neatly manicured village of about 120 people who were in the midst of preparations for something big. On the beach a team of men was floating pontoon decking to attach to some piles driven into the sand:

The following morning, all became clear. The Dawn Princess cruise ship, en route from Sydney, via New Caledonia and on to Suva, had anchored a mile offshore and three of its big lifeboats took turns to motor most of its 1200 passengers ashore.

The enterprising locals has set up stalls offering coconuts, food and back massages in an attempt to gain full financial advantage of this event (they get about one ship a month on average) and the visitors wandered about looking faintly perplexed. Sailing friends call cruise ship passengers 'marshmallows', presumably from their general build and colour - there were certainly some very pink ones at the end of the day! Most had no idea about Fijian culture, though one person did stop us and ask if it was true that they should remove their hats and sunglasses in the village; we explained that it was but most weren't aware or bothered. We thought that the locals must have a very strange opinion of their visitors, who were mostly Australian, and we did feel that it was a bit like watching visitors at a zoo. 

We did feel that two very different worlds were illustrated here: one of the nurses from the ship had spotted us (he recognised a Yeo Valley t-shirt!) and he later tracked us down wanting to show us a photo on his iPhone. A villager who we'd met the previous day came along to look so the nurse showed him the photo and explained it. The villager wasn't bothered about the photo but more about the phone, asking what kind it was and how much it cost. The nurse flippantly said "something like $650 US" and the villager responded by estimating that he would never earn a sum like that in his working lifetime. 
Visitors wandering through the village centre

Many just headed straight for the beach

Preparing the credit card terminal (really!) for a busy day

Quite a few made it up the 'mountain' for this view

Selfies and white torsos
Overall, these visits are obviously very beneficial, financially, to the village so we guess that the once a month invasion is worth all the hassle for the people who live here.

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