Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fiji Day 9: Vatulele - Diving, Village trip

After a day of scuba rest, Lauren was eager to dive again.  We dove with Vuli, the head of the dive operation here.  We saw two sea turtles, a small shark, and the usual explosion of tropical fish.  I’ve now identified my favorite, bright little fish as the regal angelfish.

Lunch was delicious as always, and then it was back into the bumpy Land Rover for a tour of one of the villages.  We went to village 4, which is on the very far side of the island, about a 30-minute drive.  In the village, we met the chief and shared kava with him and his friends.  We toured the church, which they’d erected in 2008.  We saw a bunch of dogs and more pigs and chickens than usual.  Children very friendly and very excited to have their pictures taken and then look at those pictures on the LCD screens of our digital cameras.

The main industry of this village – and the main export of this island – revolves around the tapa plant.  Families grow tapa in small “plantations” along the road.  They then cut down the small, thin trees and bring them back to the village.  In the village, they strip the white bark from the trees, soak it overnight, then repeatedly fold and beat the bark until they have long sheets much resembling canvas.  They export a lot of the blank, white tapa for use in painting and in making clothes.  They paint the rest themselves for export and for direct sale to tourists like us.  Lauren bought a painted, square piece to put up in our living room in Chicago.  It will be nice to think of Fiji during a Chicago winter, I think.

Dinner was very good once again. Enjoyed chatting with new friends Richard and Hillary over cocktails before dinner.  Then enjoyed our meals: cream of mushroom soup to start, very spicy vegetarian “jungle curry” for me, and mahi mahi skewers with vegetables for Lauren.