Friday, July 23, 2010

Fiji Day 5: Namale - Diving, Horseback to waterfall, Pearl shopping

Will again!

We started the day with the now blessedly familiar routine of breakfast and bus-to-dive-boat.

Friday’s dive site was called Lighthouse, and was right next door to Black Beacon from Thursday.

It’s a tough call, but I think that Friday’s may have been our best Namale dive.  Sunshine the entire time, lots of sea life, and Paul going ape on a few more Crowns of Thorns.  I’m sad now that I haven’t taken the plunge and gotten into underwater photography, since pictures would really help get across just how stunning this experience was.

On the ride back from diving, we passed the three horses tied up and ready to take us up to the waterfall for lunch.  We had booked a Friday waterfall lunch on our first day at Namale, and Lauren had decided to add horses to the mix on Thursday.

[For those of you following along at home, let me make it clear: I got on a horse for this woman.  That is love.]

My horse turned out to have a bum back-right leg, so our guide dismounted in the middle of the trip and gave me his horse.  At our pace he could outwalk the horses anyway.  We enjoyed a slow, 30-minute ride up past the golf course.  At the end of the ride, we reached a multi-level waterfall, complete with steps and a small deck:

The van carrying our pre-ordered lunch arrived about 30 seconds after we did.  (Things like this have stopped surprising us at Namale). They set up the table, asked what time they should return, and then left us to enjoy our food, the sound of the waterfall, and each others’ company.
Especially notable was the local taro-and-coconut dish that they cooked up at Lauren's request in the photo above.

After eating, I took a dip in the chest-deep pool below the top-most waterfall.  The water was a bit cold, but more than anything I wished that we had brought along our dive shoes, as the bottom was very rocky.  All well worth it for moments like this of course!

We finished at the waterfall a bit early, and we opted to walk back rather than wait for the van.

Quick shower, and then it was time to return to Savusavu in search of the one thing Lauren hadn’t been able to get to in Savusavu the previous day: pearl shopping.

Now, we had seen the pearl “fields” – really strings of buoys – every time we’d gone out diving.  So Lauren hoped that there would be beautiful pearls to buy on-site and good deals to boot.  Think “roadside strawberry seller” but for big, colorful pearls.

We had tried to visit the small J. Hunter pearl shop on Thursday, but we’d arrived just after closing time at 5pm.

On Friday, Lauren was on a mission, so we zoomed to Savusavu in a cab, headed straight for the pearl shop.  We made it just in time.  But alas, Lauren didn’t find quite the right pearls, and she didn’t find quite the right deal, either.  We resolved to try again next time we visit Namale.

Upon returning to our house, we found some going-away papers, and so we started the unhappy task of packing up for our Saturday morning departure.

Dinner featured the band boys once again, and the kava bowl once again.  Lauren was raring to go on the kava, and she took great pride in explaining all the tricks and variations to the folks who had recently arrived at the resort.

We were both sad with this being our last squat around the kava bowl at Namale, but I also felt like we had planned this leg of the trip just about perfectly… We’d had plenty of time to relax by ourselves but had never been bored. We’d done all the activities we really wanted to do.  We had just about run through the lunch menu and were starting to repeat some dishes.  It was about time to leave.

Rupes had mentioned that he had something special planned for our last night.  So when he whisked us away from the kava bowl at 7:30, we were pretty excited.  We took a circuitous bula cart ride that ended by the dive shop. The Namale staff had set up a string of lanterns ending with a candlelit table for two, all overlooking an ocean cove ten feet away. It was beyond romantic.

We returned home to find a last bottle of champagne and a bunch of other really nice touches. The surf and the treefrogs lulled us to sleep one last time in this little corner of paradise.