So we arrive at the “Sandspit” anchorage in Fulaga. Beach and turquoise water look inviting but of course our first duty is to do our Sevusevu.
Together with Pelle from Loupan we hop into our dinghies with our bundles of Kava, our Sulus and some mosquito spray and drive the 2 miles over to the landing of the main village Munaicake.
After 15 minutes of easy walk we reach the village. There everything is quiet, we cannot see a person.
Then a friendly young man comes up to us, his name is Tui, he is dressed all in black. “Our chief has passed away last night” he explains to us.
Another tall man joins us, his name is Joe. He promises to ask the eldest, when we should come back for our Sevusevu. Also we should ask the other yachts who has some Kava to sell to the village, as they are running out and now according to tradition they should drink Kava for the next few days and nights.
We head back to our boats and shortly after there comes Joe in a longboat. After some chatting over a round of ice tea we sell him two bundles and agree that we join the ceremony the following day and do our Sevusevu at the same time. For us a good option because for the ceremony we would have had to bring a bundle each anyway. Also we feel that we need to pay our respect to the chief, even though we didn’t get to know him personally.
The next few hours we check the content of our clothes cabinets, we should wear black or at least dark clothes. Only Pelle is in a good situation, he has a dark blue sulu which is perfect. Reto improvises also a dark blue one, out of the old blue Lufthansa blanket that is usually covering our sofa in the saloon… It is a bit warm though 😉
I find a couple of black dresses and skirts, but of course none of them go well over the knees…
The following morning we punctually arrive at 9 am at the village for Sevusevu.
The men already sit underneath an improvised tent drinking Kava. We sit down with them and the eldest speak the Sevusevu over our bundles of Kava. We are accepted and immediately get each a huge bowl of Kava, nothing like the almost empty cups I had gotten until that moment…
The house of the chief is surrounded by a sort of fence, a young man with a traditional weapon on the shoulder is watching over the entry. Inside a few men are blowing the Triton shell, the women are watching over the body. Several layers of mats are spread on the floor.
Once the delegation from Ogea, the neighbor island had arrived, everybody moves into the church for the funeral service. Afterwards the ceremony continues at the cemetery where the coffin is packed into a couple of mats before being lowered into the earth. The whole time the triton horns are being blown.
Our hosts are Tara and Jo who live with their grand sons Jonny and Bossy, whose parents live in Suva. Due to the chiefs funeral Sara (another grand daughter) is currently visiting from neighboring Ogea with her daughter Mere.
First thing Sara gets us some drinking coconuts from the tree and since we promise to bring ice cream and chocolate cake for Sunday she decides to stay a few days longer..
But first we enjoy the island with a long walk on the beach and a first snorkel and dive in the pass. We are absolutely amazed by the underwater world we find here.
The Sunday we then spend from morning till evening in the village with a total of 3 hours in church, a delicious lunch and a lot of chatting with our hosts Tara and Jo.
The highlight is the installation of a new antenna for “Fulaga radio”. Pelle donates the antenna, we have just the right mounting device, they find and solve some shortcuts in the coax cable and plugs and when we test the radio we find that reception and sending is excellent.
Sikeli and Joe are both more than happy, they bring us some huge pumpkins the next day and promise to take us out for a trip.
After 5 days and nights on Tuesday the watching of the ladies in the house of the chief comes to an end, they drink Kava during the night and are allowed to be happy and dance in the morning. There is a big feast with a lot of food including several pigs. Only the men still drink kava, they don’t seem to feel hungry. Therefore most of the food the families take home in banana leave baskets, even we cruisers get our share and have food for the next two days…
On Wednesday our host family visits us on board. After Coffee, Coconut ice cream and cake I serve some of the last Swiss cheese and German sourdough bread. Even Jonny and Bossi like the taste of the cheese and the very different bread, I am surprised.
Like this our first week in Fulaga is through and we only once dove the pass!
So from now on every time there is little wind we go out with our dinghy loaded with the dive equipment and we explore both sides of the reef outside of the pass.
When we have enough air left at the end and are not yet too cold we do the drift of the pass in addition.
There is a huge amount of canyons and caves, the most diverse hard and soft corals of all colours and a huge amount of reef fish.
In the mouth of the pass we always find schools of very large and also smaller barracudas, huge schools of snappers and jacks and of course several reef sharks.
But also outside of the water we find some things to do.
We hike up every hill we find, walk over to the other side of the island, collect clams and when there is nothing else to do I go paddle boarding which is just incredible between all these little islands and islets.
Every few days we move to a different anchorage, like this we can check out closely a new area.
On our second Sunday we visit Sailosi in Naividamu, he had already invited us on our first day at the chiefs funeral.
Naividamu is the village in the west of the lagoon, a very pretty little village with the church on the hill overlooking the houses and the beach.
After the Sundays service and the lunch with Sailosi, Una guides us for a hike over to the outer beach.
She plays Fijian music on her phone and hops over the rocks in her flip flops that I cannot manage to follow ;-).
The following day we bring both some cake and presents and get a load of fruit and veggies in return. I am happy since both is really scarce on board of She San at the moment.
Every time we approach the village with our dinghy the children excitedly announce us “Palangi, Palangi” (people with white skin) and surround us as soon as we are at the beach.
One of our favorite anchorages is Malakuja. We find it following Te Poe Rava into in between the islets when the wind starts to turn around and for many days only our two boats anchor in the area.
Once in the village Joe tells us about a short cut bush walk, which he shows to us the next day. Very practical, since we are almost out of dinghy fuel. Also he shows us a huge cave close to our boat.
First of all find the holes, and find one which is occupied. Then shoot him and get him out of the hole with the help of a second spear.
Of course the octopus doesn’t like this procedure and he will do his best to disturb you with his tentacles and by letting out his ink, so you don’t see anything anymore.
After this you have to beat him with a stick so that the flesh becomes soft. Every couple of beats Sikeli says “I really hate this work, that is a women’s job…”.
I am the only woman around but I am not of much help during the process other than spotting the hole and the animal inside. Then I will only touch it again once it is nicely cut in pieces on my plate. It is a hell of a work but really delicious I have to admit at the end 😉
First they do a parade through the village, then there is a service.
Then all the children show dances for hours, the women and tourists watch, the men start to drink kava.
As Reto is invited by our host Jo to sit next to him he also joins the men in drinking Kava.
After having had 5 nicely filled cups he tells me “I cannot go diving anymore today”…
After the show everybody is invited for lunch, first the children, then the yachties, then the women. The men prefer to drink kava once again rather than to eat 😉
“On Sunday morning you are here at 9.30 for church” our host Jo tells Reto, who of course doesn’t dare to say no.
Packed with a huge chocolate cake we are punctually there.
After the church the clan comes together to memorize a brother of Jo who passed away in Suva.
Every family brings some food along, it is very tasty.
In addition to the usual dishes there is a pumpkin curry and Sikeli has created two sauces on the base of soy sauce and lemon and coconut We are grateful for the change in taste.
In the meantime we get used to eat sitting down on the floor and using our fingers instead of forks 😉 At the end Ma loads a plate of fish and vegetables for us and together with a heap of these delicious cassava coconut balls we have again food for the next 2 days…
Only two days later we meet for a “picknick” at the sand spit anchorage, the villagers bring fish and roots, the yachties bring pasta, pizza and other goodies but it is clearly visible that no one has too many vegetables left.
I ask Tara which kind of food she misses most and understand that real pasta is something they don’t get, even when the supply boat arrives.
On my next trip to the village I bring her a large pack of pasta with sauce, a few bags of mashed potatoes and some corned beefs.
Then finally with 3 weeks delay the cargo boat arrives from Suva. The last one was here 7 weeks ago, so many supplies have been out for a while.
We have the feeling though that the lack of flour, sugar and rice is not so critical after all, as there is a lot of cassava. taro and sweet potatoes around.
The worst seems to be that they run out of tobacco or suki (fijian tobacco) that is mainly smoked here.
Also we get to feel that. Ironically during church on Sunday when the priest speaks about respecting the law and do not steal, somebody takes the two pack of Camel that we had wanted to give to our hosts out of our backpack.
We are quite a bit shocked that someone even looked into our backpack which we left at the house but then we start to understand that the addiction in this special occasion was probably the reason for taking the cigarettes.
In a very neat little hut there is a fully loaded shelf and Tani who is running the shop smiles her big smile at me.
I smile back and am happy to find flour, sugar, milk powder but also fresh eggs and onions!!
I have to reassure myself a few times if it is ok that I buy these things, as I don’t want to “take it away” from the villagers.
Then I understand that it is good when we leave some money in the village as most of the villagers get their goods for either carvings or woven coconut cords.
Especially the carving is famous from Fulaga, most of the men know how to carve. Also our host Jo makes some beautiful masks with turtles as decoration but he sends them raw to Suva, where they are finished.
At the end of the fourth week in the Atoll we are actually ready to move on even though we never yet have been bored a minute and haven’t even had the time to read a book.
But the weather goes crazy, a couple of lows pass south of us and we have winds from the south west. That is not good for our next targets, so we postpone again and again and stay in the end another 2 weeks.
Therefore two more times we make a trip to Naividamu, to buy some gasoline and to visit Sailosi and give him some presents.
Unfortunately Una has left to Suva, so we leave a few photos with her mom. From Sailosi we get another load of fruit and he cuts a whole tree for a bunch of plantains for us. That will bring us through another two weeks.
The following day Dan joins Reto, they are more successful and catch 2 of them.
After beating them like we learned from Sikeli Reto prepared it and we share it with Te Poe Rava, Rouser and Me Too after the Jamsession on She San.
Two days later at 9 pm, just as we prepare to go to bed a Giant Trevalli bites into our fishing hook.
We cut the tail, pack the whole fish into the fridge and have 3 good meals of grey and firm but very nice fish meat.
Also we collect some clams, big and small. The big ones have to be cooked for a log time in order to get soft and less chewy and are difficult to get sand free (which is not good for the teeth!).
The small ones are also a massive amount of work, but cooked in a few minutes and very tasty. We count 900, invite Jill and Clay from Me Too and Sarah and Giles from Rouser to a Fulaga version of Spaghetti Aglio, Olio i Vongole.
The last few days we wait for a weather to head on but we enjoy every single day with a great dive at the pass and in the company of Rouser and Me Too.
Then it is time to say good by to our host family and we are very touched about their attention.
As farewell presents we get a Kava bowl from Jo, exactly what we had been looking for and hadn’t found yet and a little woven bag from Tara.
Both have their special place now on She San and will always remind us of the wonderful time in this wonderful place.