Lalati Resort, Beqa Lagoon, Fiji

Flying to Fiji  Thursday thru Saturday, 07-09 June 2012

After flying from Tucson (3pm) to LA, we had a seven-hour (!) layover, leaving for Fiji late at night but, because we crossed the International Date Line, arrived two days later.  Took a sleeping pill on the second leg and slept straight for eight hours.  Yes – sitting upright in steerage.  Never even heard dinner being passed out or eaten.  Did have a Panda Express Chinese dinner at the LA airport, after we were allowed to check in at 6:30pm.  After I woke up, breakfast was a box of cold stuff – muffin, yogurt, granola bar.  Plus OJ and coffee, not exactly what I expected from an overseas flight.  (This was Air Pacific.)

Four hour bus ride from Nadi airport (on the island of Viti Levu), by way of Sigatoka where we stopped at Jack’s for some shopping (curios) and the grocery for beer, wine – cheaper than at the resort which added half an hour, and stopped for 20 minutes for a parade, to Pacific Harbour.  Then a 45 minute boat ride to Beqa and the resort.

Greeted at the dock with the women in turquoise singing to the drumbeat of the woman in red.  Leis put around our necks and we were given coconuts with straws (but no rum added, as would have been in Jamaica).

The island is only fifteen square kilometers, and has no roads, no towns and only a few isolated villages scattered around the perimeter.  Beqa Lagoon is the submerged crater of an extinct volcano, and Beqa Island is where the lip of the crater breaks the surface.

Lunch, orientation, a nap, dinner, everyone so exhausted that we were in bed by 8 pm.

After orientation, those who wanted to test out their equipment could do a shore dive, from the end of the dock.  The weather was lousy, so I forwent the chance.  Missed a desk, computer keyboard, chair and a piece of mechanical equipment that were the things to see in the mud.  (No white sand beach here, just a sandy mud flat when the tide is out, and a 76° pool with a non-working jacuzzi.)

We have a two-room cottage (called a bure).  A and J, friends from Green Valley, in one room with single beds, R and I in the main room with single beds, couch, two chairs.  Large bathroom we all share.  (Last time I shared a bathroom with strangers was on a work project in Provence twenty years ago.)  High pitched roof with exposed beams, thatched inside, metal roof outside.

Wide porch with hammock (which, due to the mosquito population, we only use for hanging out our towels and bathing suits), table and chairs overlooking the ocean.   The resort is thick with growth, the rest of the island covered in dense tropical forest.

One day I noticed tiny one-inch bits of yellow sprinkled about the flat at low tide, moving like insects.  On closer inspection, they were crabs making their holes.  My camera worked great for close-ups.  Notice that one crab is a lefty, the other right-clawed.

Two dive boats holding fourteen and ten, plus guides and drivers, respectively.  There are 28 of us, but a few of the wives don’t dive as well as one older couple, parents of the trip organizer.

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