Thursday, October 1, 2009

Brooke Goes to Town

Low on provisions at Siga Siga yet again, I decided to head into town on the bus this morning, while Ben stayed at home with the kids for school. It was an eventful and fruitful excursion, although a very hot one. For pretty much the first time since we've been here, the trades have not started up, making for a very muggy day. As I write this we are waiting for high tide at 4pm. That is our usual snorkeling time and what a nice break that will be!

The Nagigi (pronounced "nah'nyi-nyi") bus was full so I joined a Fijian neighbor Emalia for a walk along the road to a shady spot where we could await the next bus. She was a wealth of information. She and her family live down the Old Road to our left (east). The Old Road is still partially paved and runs about 50 yards in front of our house. As near as we can figure, it was the official road before the Hibiscus Highway, which runs about 100 yards behind our house, came along. Abandoned or not though, the Old Road is a big thoroughfare for the neighbors. All day long we see folks walking, riding or herding their goats up and down the lane. Everyone waves when they go by -- it is really wonderful -- and Ian and Tica have from time to time participated in some pick up soccer games along it.

Emalia is the mother of Sarahwaia (not sure on the spelling), who is 13, Ruth, who is about 9 and four other children. Her husband is a stone worker, who builds rock walls and such for the resorts. Business is slow at the moment so he is mostly at home planting vegetables. (Remember that we are going into springtime down here.) Her husband is also a SCUBA diver and has taken it upon himself to declare "our" part of the reef "tabu" (sacred prohibition) to fishing. Emalia said that the other villagers are afraid of him and so follow his wishes. (I look forward to meeting him!)

I would say that Emalia was very patient and gracious in answering my many questions about the lay of the land and Fijian etiquette. I kept repeating that we wanted to be good neighbors. She confirmed our suspicion that the clump of houses to the left of us is part of a village that lies up the highway a bit. We haven't seen the village itself because it lies up a side street. We will no doubt go visit though, maybe even bringing the kava we bought at the market the other day. She invited us to church on Sunday afternoon. That should be very interesting.

Well, the bus finally came and we parted ways in Savusavu. Emalia went into town to a meeting at her daughter's school, the secondary school in town. I did not see her again. I went about my shopping, but not without first going to visit with Sailosi at the Savusavu Cafe, a beautiful spot overlooking the little body of water between Savusavu and Nawi Island. Sailosi happens to be the President of the Rotary Club, which we visited on Tuesday night. I thought I should say hello and I couldn't help but order a cup of coffee. ' turns out that he makes a pretty mean Americano. Nice!

After coffee, I hit the market, the grocery, the butcher and the baker. (No candlestick makers in Savusavu so far as we've found.) I also checked out the pearl farm store (pricey but WOW black pearls). I went into a store called "Pots and Things" and got some twine for our reef study project. Then I headed back to the bus station to wait for the 1pm bus. By this time, the heat was really getting to me. I didn't have money to stop for lunch -- forgot my ATM card -- so got a Coke (with real sugar!) and sat in the waiting area for the bus to arrive. What a great people watching spot!

The Savusavu bus station is in the middle of town, right next to the outdoor market and taxi stand. It seems to be busy all day, with buses coming and going to all parts of the island. There are two big towns on Vanua Levu, Savusavu and Labasa, which is a three hour bus right to the north east of us on the dry side of the island. People from villages all over come to town by bus to do their shopping. As a result, the bus ride home is always full of people with gigantic shopping bags, boxes and other large items in tow. The Nagigi bus is a local so our bus wasn't all that crowded for my 1pm return.

The bus ride home was lovely, especially after sitting on the bus for a half hour waiting for departure time. On the ride home I heard snippets of conversions in Fijian, many including the words "Samoa". Yes, the news from the earthquake and tsunami is of great interest here, as one might imagine.

Long story short, we are gradually figuring our way around Savusavu. There is so much to explore that I am at this point having a very hard time imagining we'll have it all wired before our departure in mid-January. I am so happy to be here!

High tide is upon us to it is time to awake the troops (!) and head out to the reef. Next time I'll write about our experiences with the Rotary. Moce (pronounced "'moth-eh") for now.


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