Day 19, Year 2: Sunday in Suva
Date: Sunday, May 13, 2007
Weather Today: Sunny and Windy
Location: Suva, Fiji

Today was a lonely Mother’s Day for me. Holidays are like that out here. You are surrounded by friends, but not by family, and that is a very lonely feeling at times. Thankfully, there aren’t that many holidays, so days like these are few and far between.

Mark, Marie of Ranger, and I went into town for the 10 AM service at the Centenary Methodist Church. We were the only “Europeans” there. I’ll digress for just a minute to explain that on the Immigration form that you fill out here, anyone not of African, Indian, or Asian background is listed as European, thus the reference here. The church service was much longer than we expected, lasting two hours, but the singing was beautiful and the time in the church gave us a special perspective on the culture
here. The first thing I noticed while sitting in the church was just how different the people here look from Polynesians. In a church in Tonga, most of the younger women would have had long hair wrapped into a bun at the nape of their necks. Here, most of the women have very short Afros. The men here wear sulas, like lava lavas we encountered last season. A sula or lava lava is a piece of material that is wrapped around the hips making a skirt. The men here wear formal sulas that are made of
linen and wrapped in a tailored manner. They then wear a dress shirt and a tie, and some wear jackets. Most of the women wear a type of pulatasi. In Samoa, this means two dresses. Basically it is a knee length dress worn over a long skirt. The pulatasi here are not as stylized as those in the Samoas. They are simply a dress over a skirt, not something made to go together as are those in the Samoas. The church service was two hours long and it was noticable that all of the children attending
were well behaved. We didn’t hear a baby cry until the last 30 minutes. It appeared that children over five were allowed to leave the sanctuary and go outside for periods of time. I’m not sure if anyone was watching them outside, but they always returned after a short time. Today’s service was presented by mothers. The regular minister was in attendance, but had nothing to do with the service. The choir was also all female and sang beautifully. The entire service was in Fijian and the only
words I think I understood were ‘savasava’ or savior and Jisu or Jesus. There was a mother and daughter in front of us that made sure they held their hymnals so we could see when it was time for the congregation to sing. At the end of the service, they gave us a very personal welcome and made sure we met the female minister from today and the regular church minister before we left.

We took a taxi back to the Yacht Club and spent the rest of the day on the boat. We both read and then Mark worked on a new system of raising the dinghy to hang at the side of the boat. We have been getting mixed reports about safety here and figure it is best to be safe rather than sorry. We’d sure hate to have our dinghy stolen. There is a catamaran anchored next to us with a number of different people onboard. Some went into the Yacht Club a couple of nights ago, but left the captain on the
boat. He was working on the computer when people boarded the boat. I guess they didn’t see a dinghy so they thought no one was at home. He was successful in scaring off the intruders, but this gives us all notice that things are not as secure here as we had hoped.

Paul and Marie on Ranger will be flying home on Wednesday morning. Paul did find out early today that his father is weakening quickly. Paul had a very frustrating time this morning. He tried to use the pay phones at the Yacht Club to call the airlines, but airline numbers are either 800 or 888 and neither can be dialed from pay phones. When we got back from church, we loaned them the internet card we had bought yesterday and they went into town with their laptop to find a wireless hotspot. Unfortunately,
the main hotspot was having “technical” difficulties, but they did find one internet cafe that was open and they were able to make their flight arrangements. They will not return until the end of the month and we will probably be gone from Suva by that time. Hopefully we will catch up with one another sometime while we are cruising Fiji.

Tomorrow we go to apply for our Fiji cruising permit and to see more of the city. Seeing the city on a week day will give us a much better picture of what things are really like in the city of Suva.

070513 Day 19 Viti Levu, Fiji–Centenary Methodist Church on Mother’s Day