Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fond of Fawn Harbour

There's something special about being the only boat in an anchorage. We feel like we're the first ones to discover an area even though we know that many have come before us. With no cruisers to ask for help, we fumble our way around and have interesting adventures along the way. In Mexico we occasionally found ourselves in deserted anchorages and we were happy to relive that unique experience here in Fiji a few times, including at Fawn Harbour. 

In Fawn Harbour, the first adventure was …..how to get to shore? At first glance it looked like the shore was completely covered in thick mangroves, but Crystal's keen eyes found us a opening where other small boats were moored!

Depending on the tide, getting to shore involved some wading and/or mud trotting. I'm not sure if it's because we know that the "end is near", but we're enjoying these little cruising adventures more and more again. 

Once we got out of the mud, we climbed a hill to a clearing with numerous houses scattered on it. "Bula bula" (hello in Fijian) we started to yell.
After a few minutes of random wandering and "Bula" yelling, a smiling face emerged. She immediately invited us into her home, muddy feet and all, as a brief rain shower fell. Inside we inquired regarding the whereabouts of the "Turango Ne Koro", the village mayor who we are supposed to ask to act as our representative to the Chief. As it turned out, he was out fishing, but she said she could show us the way to the Chief herself. Although a bit unorthodox, they seemed pretty relaxed about things in this village. She showed us where we could wash our feet and then guided us to the Chief's house, at the top of a hill called "High House".

In Fiji, the waters surrounding a village are considered to be part of the village. To anchor in a village's waters without asking permission is like setting up a tent on somebody's front lawn without their consent. The proper way to ask permission is by presenting a bundle of yaqona (kava) to the Chief. If the yaqona is accepted, you may stay. Sometimes the Chief will invite you to participate in a sevusevu ceremony where kava is drank together. A sevusevu ceremony is something uniquely Fijian, so we happily accepted when the Chief (Arthur) asked us if we wanted to drink kava with him the following day. 

Since kava is mildly intoxicating, we were happy that Arthur always gave us small bowls for our first sevusevu. Before and after each sip, there was a back and forth between the Chief and drinker, followed by three enthusiastic claps by the drinker. Arthur was very laid back about the whole thing and didn't seem to mind when we often made mistakes.

Arthur: "Do you like the taste?"
Chris: "Ummm…."
Arthur: "I know. It tastes bad"
Chris: "Yeah. It's not the greatest."
Arthur: laughs…. "I know"
Chris: "Why do you drink it then?"
Arthur: "To bring the people together."

We enjoyed our little kava ceremony with Arthur and his sister a lot. It did bring us together and we learned a lot about their village and culture that we wouldn't have otherwise. They also generously gave us delicious ginger, limes, peppers and a pumpkin from their farm.
My view during the sevusevu
After the sevusevu, one of Arthur's friends guided us to a natural hot spring pool which belongs to the village. It was a beautiful thirty minute walk up the river and through the forest to get to the hot springs, with numerous stream crossings.

Finally we arrived at the pool, which drains down into a few smaller pools before joining the main river. Our guide left us to enjoy the hot springs in privacy, after we assured him we could find our way back on our own. I've been craving a warm bath for months now and this was even better. To sit in nature's hot tub while listening to the birds chirp and leaves rustle above was a little taste of heaven.
Sitting in the "almost too hot" hot springs
Chris cooling off in a nearby stream
Thanks for all the fond memories Fawn Harbour.

1 comment:

  1. This blog is a true gift for me in so many ways!
    Thank you, Thank you!
    Mama

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