Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fiji Day 11: Vatulele - Diving, Red prawn walk

Breakfast was eggs Florentine for me and pancakes for Lauren.  We lazed away the early morning writing thank-you cards, or rather thank-you postcards, since it’s always fun to receive something postmarked from Fiji.  Now it’s off to our very last dive of the trip…


Final dive was slightly more challenging than our other Fiji dives, but we still didn’t break a sweat compared to Monterey. Saw a sea turtle resting on the coral. We kept our distance, but he still gave us that grumpy-old-man expression that sea turtles have before making it clear that he’d rather be elsewhere, thankyouverymuch.  We watched him wing gracefully away.

Also saw a nudibranch, and enjoyed swimming around the multi-story reef pillar at the heart of this dive.  It was covered in coral and the coral was covered in fish.  Took a side-trip over the “cliff” leading to the large drop-off as well, where I enjoyed “flying” off the cliff’s edge without falling down.

Lunch was an odd-shaped but delicious ham-and-cheese-and-veggies-on-flatbread sandwich for me, and fish+chips for Lauren.  Meals are slow, lazy affairs here, and so we started lunch at 1pm and finished right at 3pm, just in time to catch our boat to the red prawn pools.

Vatulele is the only island in Fiji (and possibly the only place in the world?) that harbors a distinctive kind of bright-red prawn. There’s a legend about where they came from, involving a handsome prince, a beautiful princess, and one of the worst hand-in-face moments of all time.  He gets rejected, gets thrown off a cliff, all very sad.  In any case, the Fijians revere the red prawns as sacred, and they refrain from eating them or harming them in any way.

On the way to the red prawns, we saw some petroglyphs (origin unknown; they’re not Fijian, and they may date back as far as 3,000 years), and a lot of fossilized coral fairly high up on land. Geologists are still arguing about Vatulele’s past and future.  There are a lot of signs indicating that the island has been rising relatively recently (in geologic terms, of course), but there’s no good explanation as to why.

Finally we reached the prawns themselves.  The pool was absolutely lousy with them, brilliant bright red against the green algae that they rest on and eat.  They look pretty similar to crawfish, only brighter.  It’s a good thing that the locals have declared them taboo, since it would be pretty quick work for a couple of humans with a net to cook up a LOT of prawns for dinner.

A nice experience all around, and a cool boat ride back, where we got to watch the storms rolling from the main island of Viti Levu toward our small island of Vatulele.

Lauren was thrilled that the trotted out the band and kava bowl one last time for our last night at Vatulele.