Day 56, Year 2: Visit to Naroi Schools
Date: Tuesday, June 19, 2007, 1930 Fiji Time
Weather: Gorgeous Day; Windy in the Anchorage
Location: Naroi, Moala Island, Lau Group, Fiji

Our day started early this morning with a visit to the Naroi Primary School. This school includes kida (prounounced kinde) plus class 1 through class 6. We were able to pole the dinghy all the way to the shore, but a young man standing on the road looked at us in a way that made us think that tying the dinghy to shore was the wrong thing to do. We tried it anyway, and the dinghy was pushed up against the rocks. Now we knew why he looked the way he did. Not a good idea. So another young kid
took the rope and walked out to one of the poles that was waist deep to tie it there for us. Since the tide would be coming down as the day progressed, we knew we would be able to wade out and get it for the return trip home. The chief’s wife, Litia, had sent Ravula’s (the chief) neice to greet us and walk us to the primary school. So off we went. She introduced us to the head teacher and he invited us to sit down and watch the beginning of the day. All of the students gathered on the green
area between the four wooden buildings that are the school and then one of the teachers dismissed a few students at a time to go to the library building. The students sang “This Land Is Your Land” (in Fijian) and a few other songs and then we were asked to speak. It is at this point that I become really embarrassed that I can speak no Fijian. Hello (bula) and thank you (vinaka) are just about it for me, but both Mark and I spoke about sailing around the world and about our jobs before we left to
go sailing. The students were then dismissed to go to their classrooms. Classes 5 and 6 are in one building, classes 3 and 4 in another, and kida and classes 1 and 2 in another. We went to observe the little ones. Just as in classes in the United States, the morning started with students on the mat and the teacher at the chalk board. She wrote “Today is ____.” on the board and the students filled in “Tuesday.” Then she wrote “It is a _____ day.” And the students fill in with “windy.” They
then had an English lesson using the words sit, stand, run, and walk. The class 2 students were dismissed to go to their seats and the teacher continued working with the class 1 students. She explained that once she was ready to send them to their seats to work independently, she would work on the mat with the kida students. The classroom appeared to be a well-run multi-age with about 20 children and a first year teacher.

Our next stop was the secondary school just up the hill. The principal and the school manager (head of maintenance) were sitting under a shade tree. The principal, Iliesa, was dressed in a sula with a dress shirt and tie. He was very friendly and we explained that we just wanted to walk by the classrooms and then visit with Rosa in the Home Econonomics building. The secondary school has about 120 students and the buildings are small wooden structures with clapboard siding. We learned that the
principal is the chief’s brother’s son and the school secretary is the chief’s sister. Evidently being related to the chief is a good thing. Iliesa explained that the secondary school starts at form 1 (grade 7) and goes to form 6 (grade 12). We spent the next couple of hours in Rosa’s classroom. She had seven students from forms 5 and 6 and today was their practical exam. They were cooking a complete dinner and we were invited to stay and eat the results. They were making palisami which I have
really been wanting to learn how to make, so we stayed and learned. Palisami is taro leaves with onions and meat (canned tuna in this case) rolled inside the leaves, folded over twice, and then cooked in coconut cream. To make coconut cream you take coconuts with brown outer hulls, hull them, crack them open, and then scrape out the insides. You then add a little water and start squeezing the grated coconut. Out comes what lookes like milk. Mark tried scraping out the coconuts and found it to
be hard work. I tried and was not very good at it, but with practice I think I can learn. I think milking a cow is easier, but then that is what I am used to. These kids scrape out coconuts and squeeze out the cream with what appears to be no effort. Lunch also included fish and boiled taro and a really nice lemonade. It was a fun morning.

We left the school and walked by the chief’s house to see if he and his wife, Litia, were coming to Windbird for dinner. The chief was not home, but Litia was there and explained that Ravula had to be at the church this evening so they would not be coming. But she did invite us to dinner tomorrow night. We met the chief’s son, who is in class 5 and was home during recess, the chief’s mother, and a woman they call the queen. More about the queen later. A young man who was already out in the water
brought our dinghy to us and we returned to Windbird to do some boat maintenance. When we were leaving Korolevu Bay we noticed that not as much water was coming out of our exhaust and we had a white smoke in the exhaust that we had never seen before. The engine ran slightly warmer than usual on the way here so we knew we needed to find the source of the problem. Mark took the heat exchanger apart and cleaned the insides, put in new antifreeze, and found that this wasn’t the problem. We needed
to change the antifreeze anyway, and it was good to clean out the heat exchanger, but we still had the problem. He then disconnected an elbow at the thru-hull. Bingo! The elbow was clogged with seaweed and small pumice stones from Korolevu Bay. At low tide, the volcanic pumice floated on the water and evidently it got sucked into our intake system. Mark cleaned the elbow and put it back in place. When he started the engine this time, there was no white smoke (which was actually just steam from
overheated water) and lots of water coming out of the exhaust, so he earned his keep today. While he was doing this, I was helping some and cooking dinner for Rosa. She had told us she would come whether or not the chief and his family could make it. I fixed salmon cakes, canned spinach with diced tomatoes and Handley currey spices, and fried potatoes. I also baked the eggless chocolate cake that I had gotten the recipe for from Siteri on Dravuni Island. Rosa wanted to taste it and wanted the
recipe. Eggs are hard to come by out here on the islands, so a cake with no eggs needed is quite appealing. She had sent us home today with cassava root and grated coconut to make tapioca pudding South Pacific style, but I decided to make American style tapioca pudding and let her try that. When we went in to get her, we saw that the queen was coming to dinner as well, so we all piled in the dinghy and went back to Windbird. We only had an hour as it gets dark here just after 5:30, so we ate
as soon as we got back to the boat. Renadi (I think this is the spelling the Fijian word for queen) and Rosa liked the cake and the pudding, so I gave them some of the tapioca, some eggs, vanilla, milk powder, and baking powder. That should at least get them started.

We have decided to stay here until Friday if the weather reports stay the same as they were this morning. That means we will be able to go to dinner at the chief’s house tomorrow evening if we can get back to Windbird before dark. We hope to walk around the island to the next village tomorrow and and on Thursday, the primary school is having an atheletic field day that we will attend if we are still here. Leaving on Friday morning will get us to Tuvuca early Saturday morning. If we find that
we cannot get into the harbor there and that anchoring outside just won’t work, we will continue on to Vanua Balava and will arrive there late in the day. Venturing into the Lau Group is like a mystery tour as there is absolutely no information on some of these islands and no close-up charts. So we’ll give Tuvuca a try but we know we might have to go on. We do have charts for Vanua Balava and have much more information on that island, so one place or another, we will find a new anchorage to explore
on Saturday.

070619 Day 56 Moala Island, Fiji–School Visit and Naroi Anchorage