Day 93, Year 2: Nausori Highlands and Farewell to Steve
Date: Thursday, July 26, 2007
Weather: Beautiful Day
Location: Denarau Island, Viti Levu, Fiji

Since Steve arrived on July 7, we have gone full-tilt and had a great time time doing it. We figured Steve’s last day with us here should be no exception, so we took a full-day land trip, went out for a wonderful dinner in Nadi, and delivered Steve to the airport a bare two hours before his flight home. He’s due to fly out in an hour from now at 10 PM and the way we will know he is on his way home is by standing on the deck at that time and watching the plane fly over.

I’ll back track a bit to some happenings last night after I sent the log and then outline today’s really wonderful land trip into the highlands. Just as I was sending the log last night, Mark started the engine to charge the batteries and found that we weren’t charging. That is always a heart-stopper, but this time the problem was apparent and an easy fix. A bolt that held the alternator mount had broken, so we had a loose belt. Mark and Steve tried and tried with our battery-charged drills to
drill out the bolt, but it just wasn’t working. Today we were able to get the drilling done in the shop at the marina office. We got back too late from our land trip to pick it up, but someone was around who knew the work had been done. So early tomorrow, we will hopefully have that problem under control. In the past few days, we also discovered a leak in a pump that pumps diesel from from one tank to another or can be used to clean the fuel. We need to tackle that fix tomorrow before leaving
here, so tomorrow morning will be busy.

By 8:45, we were picked up by the Viti Eco Tour driver, Henry, and we headed north. The trip plan was to drive from here to Lautoka and then to Ba on the northern coast of Viti Levu. From Ba, we were to head up into the mountains on unpaved road to the village of Navala. After a village visit and lunch there, we would travel on through the mountains to Bukuya and then start the trip down from the high mountains to the Naisori Highlands and back to Nadi. This was an ambitious plan, but we all wanted
to see as much of the interior as we could in one day. And it was a beautiful day. So off we went.

We drove north and made our “drive by” visit to the village Viseisei. This is a coastal village that is the home of the current President of Fiji. Given the coup we are not sure what the status of the “current President” is. We then drove through Lautoka with a Lautoka native at the wheel, and Henry was able to explain many things to us about the local industry. He showed us how the wood chips and sugar are loaded on ships, and he explained the sugar industry in much more detail than we have
heard to date. After stopping by his wife’s restaurant to pick up lunch, we traveled on to Ba. This town is in the heart of sugar cane country, and it was the beginning of our climb up into the mountains. Henry stopped every time we wanted to take a picture of breathtaking scenery, and this seemed to be around every curve. The mix of green sugar cane plantations on mountainsides with yellow grass and black volcanic rock surrounding it is really beautiful. We finally came to one view-point where
we could see the village of Navala. It is nestled in a mountain valley by the Ba River and it is a picture to behold. The village caretaker has basically imposed zoning rules and requires that every home or bure be built in the traditional style. This means that every home has a grass thatched roof with split bamboo woven “siding.” If I weren’t so exhausted, I could go on and on about the beauty of this all Catholic village in the middle of nowhere, but I think I will have to continue the more
detailed description in another log. After a kava ceremony, a walk through the village, a FANTASTIC lunch and visit with our guide Fina, we drove on through the mountains to the village of Bukuya. We stopped to take pictures, but we didn’t have time for a village visit. We started the trip back to the west side of Viti Levu and climbed into higher mountains with lots of tree ferns, one of my favorites. When we finally started making our descent, we could see the ocean in the front of us and enjoyed
views of islands which we had visited just a week or so ago. We made our final descent and got back to Denarau by 4:30 PM. We made a quick trip out to Windbird, about two miles out the pass at anchor, where Steve took a quick shower and got his bags. We made it back to the marina by 5:30 PM and Uma, the taxi driver we met yesterday, picked us up as planned to take us to dinner and then to the airport. We went to a Japanese restaurant we had read about, but we decided this was not the right place
for Steve’s last night. We ended up in the heart of downtown Nadi at Chef’s Restaurant. This was actually a little fancier than we anticipated, but we just settled back and enjoyed the complete attention of the staff and ate the most delicious meals presented just perfectly. Uma waited for us and then took us to the Nadi Airport where we said our farewells to Steve.

Wow! It has been a fast-paced couple of weeks since leaving Savusavu, but we have seen the most incredible sights and experienced the warmth and kindness of the Fijian people. It is now time to kick back and just relax for a few days. So tomorrow after boat repairs and shopping, we will head back to Musket Cove. We’re not sure where to from there, but in no more than two weeks, we know we will be on our way to Vanuatu. It just gets better and better.

070726 Day 93 Viti Levu, Fiji–Navala Village
070726 Day 93 Viti Levu, Fiji–Land Tour on Steve’s Last Day in Fiji
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Day 94, Year 2: From Denarau on the Mainland Back to Musket Cove
Day 92, Year 2: Musket Cove Marina to Denarau Marina