Fiji Day 6

Thursday, 14 June 2012

It only stopped raining temporarily twice today.  People are starting to make little snapping comments about each other.  Plus, R and G didn’t lock their room, thinking everything was safe here, and lost two ipads and an iphone.  (The laptop, sitting out, was still there.)  Two policemen came out from the big island to investigate.  The thought is that it’s two construction workers, but they can’t find the goods.


When we moored for the dive a banded sea krait (snake) was swimming on top of the water and wanted to get on to the boat!  (The dive master said that it was probably tired and wanted a rest.)  So he jumped in and grabbed it for photos!

Banded Sea Krait (Laticauda colubrina), one of the most poisonous creatures on the planet.  They are not in any way aggressive, as long as you don’t try to play with them.

C took lots of photos of the golden crinoids and anemone fish.

Sea Stars, which include starfish and feather stars, also called crinoids, are Echinoderms.

Also a lot of photos of coral.  (Easier than fish, as they don’t move!)  I was trying to identify the red (encrusting) coral and found these classifications:

Colonies of reef-building corals (hard corals) exhibit a wide range of shapes, but most can be classified within ten general forms.

  1.  Branching corals have branches that also have (secondary) branches.
  2. Digitate corals look like fingers or clumps of cigars and have no secondary branches.
  3. Table corals are table-like structures of fused branches.
  4. Elkhorn coral has large, flattened branches.
  5. Foliose corals have broad plate-like portions rising above the substrate.
  6. Encrusting corals grow as a thin layer against the substrate.
  7. Submassive corals have knobs, columns or wedges protruding from an encrusting base.
  8. Massive corals are ball-shaped or boulder-like corals which may be small as an egg or large as a house.
  9. Mushroom corals resemble the attached or unattached tops of mushrooms.
  10. Cup corals look like egg cups or cups that have been squashed, elongated or twisted.

Above are the encrusting coral and a mushroom coral.  Below a cup coral and a birdsnest coral complete with fishes.

There were too many soft corals to list.  Below are an orange carnation coral (which we also saw in red, yellow, pink, lavender) and a bubble coral, next a leather coral and a gorgonian fan.

The bright blue flat worm was my favorite, 3” long with a yellow edge and yellow markings.  C instead got a photo of this beautiful black one.

Singularis bannerfish chasing each other and a school of rainbow runners (each about 2’ long) with light blue horizontal stripes (this photo from the Web) .

The Village

In the afternoon we went to the Lalati village, namesake of our resort.  We landed in the rain after only a 5-minute boat ride.  A few women were waiting for us on the covered porch of the nearest house and we all got leis.

About 130 people, including the children away at school live there.  Many houses are made of CMU and not very attractive, but they hold up to cyclones better than the old ones.  Metal roofs.  Woven palm frond mats over the wood floors, no furniture.  (Except the church has benches to sit on.)

Saw their fresh-water well (just a hole in the ground lined with rocks and concrete).  We were all carrying the resort’s giant, multicolored umbrellas, but our guide did not seem to be bothered by the light rain.

Next the tapa tree, which surprisingly is no more than an inch in diameter.  They cut it down, beat the bark for cloth, and it grows back from the roots.  (This internet photo shows “islanders from the South Pacific stripping the mulberry tree branches of their bark and taking the white inner bark to create the textile.”)

Lots of clotheslines full of soaking clothes.  Only a few pre-school children around.  Plus chickens and small dogs, all short-haired and skinny.

A variation on the traditional clothes, the women in plain or tropical large print dresses, long, or skirts with T-shirts.  The men wore collared shirts (or an occasional T-shirt) with sarongs.  (As I had no skirt with me I had to borrow one of the resort loaner skirts.  The men had to borrow sarongs.)

A ceremony in the head man’s house.  (His is a hereditary position.)  We all sat on the mats, having left our muddy sandals outside the opening doorway.  (No doors.)  The head man’s appointed speaker and a few others gave speeches in Fijian, followed by slow, loud claps.

Then the kava ceremony.  Kava is made from a tree root and mixed with water in a large wooden carved bowl with legs (sold at Jacks on the mainland – would be nice with a piece of glass over for a very low side table, but with shipping to the US – it’s heavy $800).

The kava was served to us, one person at a time, in polished half-coconut shells.  You clap once, down it, then clap three times.  With their men taking turns, and the nine of us taking turns, it took a long time.  It tasted like a muddy bitter sun tea and numbed the mouth a little.  Not much affect from only one drink, and most of us took no more.  According to Wikipedia:

Fijians commonly share a drink called grog made by pounding sun-dried kava root into a fine powder, straining and mixing it with cold water. Traditionally, grog is drunk from the shorn half-shell of a coconut, called a bilo. Grog is very popular in Fiji, especially among young men, and often brings people together for storytelling and socializing. Drinking grog for a few hours brings a numbing and relaxing effect to the drinker.

Then we walked across the way to a covered concrete patio where just fewer than a dozen women had laid their wares out.  As I had just dropped $20 in the box for the community building fund I had to borrow $20 from R to purchase a carved wooden turtle (on the left), smaller than the one at Jack’s that I wanted to buy, but I’ve met the artist and have a photo of her.

Back to the head man’s house.  Three guys played guitars and sang in Fijian as members from our group were pulled out to dance, basically a two-step.  No doubt the men in our group had not worn skirts before, especially not to dance.

At 4:30 after having been offered more kava and having danced some more, we thought we’d leave.  But the boat was gone.  We ended up being ferried back to the resort in two trips in an open fishing boat, in the rain.  (And this was supposed to be the dry season!)

I was an uncharacteristically quiet liberal in a group of vocal Republicans.  This night at dinner two guys agreed they both hate Grijalva (who I voted for) because of his call for a boycott of Arizona, but one called the other a racist for referring to him as a “dirty Mexican”.  Then the other said he like all of the Mexicans who worked for him.  ‘Nuff said.

In April, 2010, shortly after Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona signed a bill which she said was meant to curb illegal immigration, but in actual fact shockingly legalized racial profiling — in the process either purposely or inadvertently turning Arizona’s more than 2 million legal Hispanic residents into a suspect class — Tucson Congressman Raul Grijalva called for an economic boycott of his state.

A few in the group are in AA.  Lots of dinner talk about that (especially after the kava).

Funny, I put sunscreen on today to go to the village and the other day to go to the school just because the clouds parted for a few moments.  No chance of getting a sunburn this week.  R’s laughing about losing his tan in Fiji.

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One Response to “Fiji Day 6”

  1. Jim Says:

    I much enjoyed your photos, of the reef life and culture of Fiji. I am surprised that you did not have the opportunity to see some of many species of birds and reptiles.

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