Day 35, Year 2: Yeah! We Got Our Lau Group Permit Today.
Date: Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Weather: Partly Cloudy Day; Some Rain in the Evening
Location: Suva, Fiji

We got our Lau Group permit today and as far as we can tell we are the first cruisers this year to get this. It took persistance with the Police Department, but the persistance paid off. We have read all sorts of horror stories about Lau Group permits costing $1,000 and other stories stating that getting a permit is just not possible. Things change from year to year. But from what we learned from Anna Maria of Galetea in New Zealand, the process they followed last year worked for us for this
year. So at least two years are consistent. The Lau Group of islands are far to the east of here and the government is trying to keep the group as traditional as possible. For the last twenty years, and maybe more, it has been very difficult to get permission to visit there. The process right now is not written down anywhere. You just have to figure it out on your own. Aki Sise, the young woman in the Lau Group office here, is the one who told us we needed police clearance first. The policemen
don’t seem to be aware of this, so it was best to just apply for clearance without stating why. When Ranger went to apply for clearance they explained that they were doing this so they could visit the Lau Group. They were told that they (the policemen) had never heard of this procedure. Well, whether or not they have heard of it, it works. We met a woman named Bernadette in the Central Records Office of at the police station, and she made sure our clearance was processed and ready for us today.
once that clearance was in place, it only took the Lau Group office a couple of hours to get our permission and issue the official letters that we will take when we visit. So we are all set on that front. We will be traveling alone as no one else has permission, but the islands there are very safe and it will be a neat experience for us.

We talked to our grandson, Sam, today, via Skype. Of course, Sam is only 4 months old, so we didn’t actually talk, but we watched him and he watched us via Skype cameras. We won’t get to see him for the next month while we are traveling, and our daughter assures us that he will be sitting up before we see him again. He is changing at a very fast pace and it is really hard to keep up.

We took a cab to the south part of town today to see the changing of the guard at the Government House. The changing of the guard happens every couple of hours during the day and it is really a neat experience. We also walked to the old Parliament Buildings, but since the coup in December the Parliament has been empty. Regardless, it was neat to see. We have heard that the United States, New Zealand, and Australia have imposed an embargo on Fiji because of the coup. None of the locals we talk
to have made reference to this, but other cruisers are finding the locals not as friendly as they were prior to the embargo. We haven’t really noticed this, but since the embargo is taking money from the people, I can understand their probem.

We shopped at the market and then headed home. We will need to go check-out of Suva tomorrow, but I doubt that we will leave. Leaving will probably happen the next day.

070529 Day 35 Sam Update–Four Months Old
070529 Day 35 Viti Levu, Fiji–Government House and Old Parliame