Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fiji Day 10: Vatulele - Reading, Cave walk

Breakfast, lots of reading (Lauren is ferocious once she starts in earnest on a book), a quick “swim” in the ocean (Lauren got cold), showers, lunch, nap (Lauren) and email (me).

Then the main event of the day: a casual, 40-minute walk through a jungle path toward a handful of caves near the resort.  Our guide, Waqa (pronounced “wahnga”) explained that unlike many other Fijian islands, Vatulele did not have any mountains to retreat to.  So in the old days, when a tribe invaded, the people on the island would put their non-warriors into caves instead, then do their best to repel the invaders.

The caves were neat, and a couple of them had deep, incredibly clear pools of brackish water.  One of these was the favorite local swimming cave, and had a ladder built in for easy access.  Lauren and I both dipped our toes in, finding the water so clear that we were both surprised at the exact moments that our feet got wet.

Before dinner we took in the sunset at The Folly, a small stone gazebo about 20 feet up off the beach.

Dinner was a different format: all the guests sat around a single, large table.  The chef served us a seven-course meal with wine pairings. All excellent.  There was local music and a lot of dancing afterward; almost all the current Vatulele guests are honeymooners like us.

At dinner, we learned to our delight and slight surprise that the entire kitchen staff is Fijian.  The executive chef is from the main island and has a fairly extensive culinary background.  But the other cooks are local women who return home each night to cook for their families over open fires.