Monday, September 15, 2008

Shiriri Saga #53,A story, A story.

The Copra Shed Marina. Savu Savu. Fiji.

Just when we are glad to be back to sea, the weather turns nasty. Perhaps we have just been sheltered for too long so that life as normal on the ocean wave seems brutally real. We pass between the islands of Upolu and Sava`i with a brisk breeze (our idea of a breeze is now just below a small craft warning at home) but in the night we hit squally weather that has us reefing the fores`l several times.

Aug. 24. My birthday, and it leapt upon me as we crossed the date line and skipped a day.

Aug.25,26,27,28. Four days of 25 knot winds and wild seas. Same old , same old. Things calm down just as we sight the first Fijian islands.

Aug.29th. We zoom along on a 15 knot breeze up a deep bay toward our first port of Savu Savu and pick up a mooring off the Copra Shed Marina. After entry formalities aboard with friendly but large lava lava garbed officials (They nearly swamped Edith) including someone from the army to be sure we are not smuggling weapons, we are free to wander ashore. The Moonlighters are here and Anne elects to visit with them while Heather and I wander the main street of this little town and find an Indian restaurant for our wedding anniversary dinner. Ice cold water, no extra charge. Heavenly! We are becoming inured to this life, as we munch our way nonchalantly through this excellent meal in a new country and culture just a few hours after a week`s rough passage.

Through the Moonlighters, we meet Sammy and Rachael and their two children who will become our special friends while we are here. It is such a treat to have an entre into a new society and we appreciate their hospitality. They are ethnic Indians and have just come through some frightening times during the recent troubles, laying low in their little home and hoping none of the roving gangs would turn up their street. I am introduced to kava drinking ( Sammy sells it in the market) and find it rather blaa. It is a bit of a problem drug here as it was in Samoa : traditionally a ritual associated with religious ceremonies, it is now as common as drinking a beer at home. Men can spend a lot of time drinking this stuff. I dislike the taste, the numbed lips and mouth, and the muddy thinking. The next morning`s hangover isn`t fun either so I politely refuse any more when I realize it features at every gathering.

We are invited to a children`s birthday party and Heather bakes the cake. By the time we negociate the dinghy ride and the walk to their home the icing is sliding off but that is quickly put right. Before the supper party, the women separate off into their separate group and I am invited to tell a story to the assembled men of the street out on the front porch. "About your sailing trip." Sammy suggests so I launch into our Cape Mendocino experience and find it more fun than I would have thought:
"The waves were 30 feet high, the sea was white with foam and the wind so strong it blew your breath away!"Interested faces, a pause for Sammy to translate into Hindi, with hand gestures to indicate the height of the waves. Amazed and horrified expressions! This is very rewarding story telling! I`m part the oldest tradition in the world and I have found my place in life! Homer must have had this same experience telling the tales of the Odyssey in the palaces and around the campfires of the ancient Greeks.
Savu Savu morning.

One day though, we refuel and leave our friends as Shiriri motors back out into a dark and rainy evening to begin a difficult bit of navigation among the islands en route to Lautoka on the southern island of Viti Levu. Sammy has set us up to meet his brother and family when we get there!

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