Sunday, July 25, 2010

Fiji Day 7: Vatulele - Church, Diving

Had a nice, long sleep.  Awoke beneath our mosquito netting and enjoyed some truly hot showers.  This is a luxury that was tough to come by in Namale, but seems on tap here.

Now, we head off to breakfast.  Then our plan is to attend the Methodist church service in the village, go diving in the afternoon, and spend the rest of the day relaxing.

***

Have just returned from the church service.  Breakfast was delicious French toast for me, and an omelet for Lauren.  She reported that it was a little on the salty side but otherwise tasty.  We could both do without the little black specks dotting the plates and silverware here. They don’t really brush off, but instead become greasy smears on the plate.  We’re hoping that they’re bits of dirt or ash, but I’m a little hesitant to ask about them.

The church service required a repeat of the ultra-bumpy Land Rover ride, past the airstrip and into the village nearby.  The service was all in Fijian, but the singing was really spirited.  It sounded a lot like a Talisman concert, for those of you familiar with the Stanford group.

The village was similar to other Fijian villages we’ve seen.  Lots of corrugated metal siding and roofing, colorful construction, hand-painted touches, dogs and chickens milling around.  Everyone was very friendly, and the children especially were very outgoing and pleased to say “hi” and “goodbye.”  Our guide explained that everyone on the island was Methodist, and that many people would attend three church services every Sunday, and take the day-of-rest fairly seriously otherwise.

Sadly, it seemed that the equivalent of the town dump was scattered by the roadside as we walked back out to the airstrip: items that wouldn’t biodegrade and wouldn’t burn well littered the floor of the jungle.

We had a bit of a wait by the airstrip until the Land Rover returned, and then we waited for the charter plane to touch down with two more couples onboard.  Lauren and I found ourselves once again in the very back of the Land Rover, which can make for a very bumpy ride.

We’ve now returned to our bure, where we have a half-hour before lunch, and about 3 hours before our afternoon dive. Lauren is catching up on her reading and doing her best not to itch a few stray jellyfish(?) stings from yesterday.  We are definitely roughing it a little!  But our spirits remain high.

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Lunch was choose-your-own-pizza-toppings, with a wood-fired pizza oven outdoors.

***

Had a nice, long, warm, relaxed dive in the afternoon.  Dove a site called Fishtank, and it lived up to its name.  Tons of colorful tropical fish, and we also saw a big school of snapper a ways out in the blue.  Divemaster reports that El Nino wiped out all the coral ten years ago, but what has grown since is impressive and fairly extensive.

Most notable for me: this dive was the best “flying underwater” dive I’ve had since my 0’th dive in Cabo San Lucas.  Really dramatic canyons, grottoes, and outcroppings to swim over, through, and around.  Coolest of all was a coral wall dropping off to more than 200 feet.  We hovered and swam at about 65 feet of depth.  With visibility at 80 feet or more, you could see a LONG way down.  I’ve now confirmed that I (luckily) don’t suffer from any vertigo.  It was a blast!

It was “curry night” at dinner.  Lauren chose the veggie curry, and I had the tandoori chicken curry.  Highlight of the meal was definitely the dahl soup we both started with.  Food has been uniformly good here.