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Sapphire II - 1 July, Blue Lagoon/Avatar/Cast Away....

...just a few of the movies which used fabulous Fijian locations in their cinematography. We've visited 2 of these and they were striking.

The Fijian islands (there are 330 or so), are verdant, hilly and most have deserted long white beaches. In contrast to the Tongan islands they are tamer, marginally more inhabited and English is more widely spoken.

The tourist industry is the mainstay, displacing sugar cane, which was historically the cash crop and which encouraged the colonial power to bring in 60,000 Indian indentured workers. We have seen no sign of the ethnic tensions this has created.

What we have seen is a myriad of low-cost "backpacker" style resorts on each island catering mostly to 20 something's who come mainly from the US and Australia. There are also 5 or 6 International hotels (Hilton et al) which cater to Australian families.

While sailing here is a pleasure to the eye, and the winds have been delightful (15 kts each day, tempering the heat of the sun), the place is plagued with reefs. The charts are unreliable (right now it says we are anchored on dry land!), and so the way we navigate is by eyeball, going by the colors of the water. When it's really tricky, Richard climbs the mast close to the first spreader and calls the slalom course as I drive. Somewhat nerve-racking. We did one night passage through the reefs, but since our friends arrived its all been the " 20 miles a day to a new island" type sailing. Very relaxing.

We were fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit an inland, remote village and experience the "sevusevu' ceremony. We got there by jet boat, going some 40 Km's up the longest (100 km) river in Fiji. A village lady greeted us on arrival, and brought us to a house where the men (20 or so) were squatting. After mercifully brief speeches, we went through the kava drinking ceremony (yuk) and afterwards had a village lunch accompanied by some marvelous harmonized singing from the combined men and women of the village. This was followed by some western style dancing involving the whole company, where the villagers (both male & female) tapped the visitors to dance with them. So I had the privilege of dancing a couple of dances with some delightful, happy ladies.(Their nature, not my dancing!).

Many cruising boats we've met here swear by the pleasures of cruising these islands.For me, the weather at this season is ideal. I could certainly live here. And it does have good, cheap , technicians. But I think I prefer the less-developed islands we've visited. I'm looking forward to exploring our next destination, Vanuatu!

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