Day 36, Year 2: Checked Out and Ready to Leave Suva
Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Weather: Intertropical Convergence Zone Hanging Over Fiji
Location: Suva, Fiji

It has found us again. The Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) that seemed to follow us to Rarotonga, to the Samoas, and then to Tonga last season is now here in Fiji. It was a mostly cloudy day with rain showers here and there, but not the torrential rains that we experienced last year that were associated with the ITCZ. Because it is a La Nina year, the ITCZ will be further south than normal, and that means Fiji and Vanuatu. I guess we had better get well acquainted and learn to love this thing. I cannot believe that I did not mention in yesterday’s log that Marie and Paul of Ranger safely returned yesterday from their trip to the United States for Paul’s father’s funeral. And neither did I mention that we hosted Ranger, Scot Free II, and Safina for a traditional Memorial Day barbecue onboard Windbird last evening. We grilled good old American hamburgers (actually minced beef from New Zealand), had my mom’s famous potato salad that I made the day before, and fresh green beans from the market. It was just like being back home. And since we are leaving tomorrow, it was a bit of a farewell “until we meet again.” We are hoping to see Safina when we go south of here to Kadavu Island, and we hope to see the whole gang when we arrive in Savusavu on the big island north of here at the end of June. We were all at the Riverside Drive Marina in Whangarei together, and made the passage here at the same time, so we have “bonded” and hope to meet again. We are all going to Australia at the end of the season, so we will probably see each other again then. Three of us (all but Ranger) are signed up for the Sail Indonesia Rally leaving Darwin, Australia next July, so we do know we will see each other again then. We were up really early this morning and in town by 7:15. We needed to call the Concord School District office to get some answers to questions about our health care coverage. This information gathering is all still part of Mark’s “coming of age” in July and needing information in order to make decisions about prescription coverage under Medicare. Pam Dolloff, the Human Resources person at the Concord School District office has been very patiently answering our questions via email and we needed to talk with her this morning. Our early morning is late afternoon in the US, so that was the need for going into town so early. Pam has been wonderful and a wealth of information. Thank you, Pam! After leaving the internet cafe, we then went to the Custom’s dock to check out. The woman in the office was the same one that boarded our boat when we arrived to check us in. She is very efficient and took us through the process quickly. She was very surprised that we had a permit to visit the Lau Group. It is looking more and more like we will be the only ones out there, but that is part of the adventure. From Customs, it was then to the market to buy last minute fresh veggies and fruit and then back to Windbird. We spent a couple of hours aboard doing laundry, reading, and having lunch before heading out once again. I wanted to go to a grocery store that Jean-Pierre had mentioned last night. It is on the outskirts of town and I had not heard of it before. We waited for a bus that never came, and then took a taxi. The store was not huge, but it did have things that no other stores here have–fresh broccoli being the prize of the day. We got back to the Yacht Club just in time to join Ranger and Scot Free II for Happy Hour. While at the club, we met Pril and Dick of Awesome. They are a couple from Southern California that have been out here in the Pacific for 14 years!!! Dick built their bright yellow boat in his backyard and they have been sailing ever since. Pril was a wealth of information about Fiji as they have spent many seasons here. We also enjoyed seeing Sylvia and Franz and their almost three-year old Dillon. They are leaving this weekend for Kadavu, so we hope to see them there. Kel, the young single-hander from Norway was also at the club, so almost everyone from out here in the anchorage was there this evening. Tomorrow morning we leave for Beqa (pronounced Mbennga). This island is on the south side of Viti Levu and is the home of Fijian fire walkers. We don’t know if we will get to see them in action, but we are hoping that the weather settles down and we will at least get to swim and snorkel. From there we go to the Astrolabe Reef on Kadavu–another diving and snorkeling “hot spot” that we hope to enjoy both in and out of the water. While here, we have really enjoyed the comments sent to our website. We can only read these when we are in a port with high speed internet. We feel like each and every person sending comments is a good friend. To Judi Stuart in New Hampshire and Cheryl in Maine, both of whom have been following up for some time, we just want you to know how much we appreciate your comments. I’m glad someone is worrying about us, Cheryl. And to Michael Marino and RichC, both more recent people sending comments, we really appreciate the questions and clarifications we receive from you both. We also cherish the comments from long-time good friends from back home in New Hamphire from New Hampshire Public Radio and the Concord School District. While here, Mark even heard from people back at Eastern Illinois University where he went to undergraduate school. Somehow the internet makes us a very small world and I love that. We got most of the pictures posted from our visit here in Suva, but there are a few logs that won’t have pictures until we reach Savusavu. For those of you who want to look at the photo albums that are associated with a log, all you have to do is double click on the picture that is posted at the end of the log. That brings up the whole album. If there is no picture, that means that no photo album is posted for that log. So it is farewell to Suva and on to the out-islands. Can’t wait to start meeting the people and exploring the beauty of this nation of many islands.

070530 Day 36 Viti Levu, Fiji–Saying Goodbye to Friends at Roya