Solo’s Home – 4/11/2021

When we were back in Savusavu we went out for dinner with our friends Carla and Alex who told us about a great local family in Viani Bay. We along with Rondo and Wiz went to the local school and Andrew spoke to one of the teachers to see if there was anyone who could take us to meet Solo, the patriarch of the family. A few eager children led the way. Andrew had previously walked up in the hills and had gotten lost with a few other intrepid sailors for four hours and we didn’t want a repeat, hence our kid guides.

Solo with his wife and one of his grandchildren.

While the walk isn’t overly strenuous, it is steamy and we haven’t done a lot of walking since we got to Fiji so we were all a bit hot and sweaty. Solo and his family were expecting us and wondered why we had been in the bay for a few days and had taken so long to get there. (Alex and Carla had told them we were coming) We explained that we had been busy diving while the conditions had been good.

Solo has one son and five daughters, the youngest one Lynnie is 17. I have no idea how many grandchildren he has, but there seemed like a lot.

Solo’s family gathered around to talk in the shade of the trees.

The family dynamics reminded us a lot of India where the adults are very affectionate with the kids and hugs are freely given. After 3 years in Spanish speaking countries, it is a nice change to be able to easily converse and find out how people live.

Near where we sat talking was a tarpauline cover with something orange, Solo explained that it was turmeric. They slice the tumeric, soak it in water and then dry it. Solo’s wife demonstrated how they pound the Tumeric to turn it into powder to use in curries. When we left, Solo gifted us with a jar of his tumeric.

Clockwise: Photo 1: sliced tumeric drying, Photo 2: Solo’s wife pounding the tumeric and Photo 3 the powdered tumeric

Wiz and Rondo brought a selection of balls including a volleyball which were excitedly received. The kids played volleyball or catch with the younger ones. One little guy in blue carried his blue tennis ball around with him and even found a coconut shell and tried to spin it in the shell.

Photos of the kids playing volleyball, catch and the bottom left is of a very cute little guy who had claimed a blue tennis ball and was rather determined to try to spin it in a coconut shell.

We were all invited to Sunday lunch to celebrate Solo’s 66th birthday, as we were unable to attend we organised to come back the following day to ride the horses.

Horse Riding at Solo’s House – 5/11/2021

Andrew, Max, Ava and I walked back to Solo’s house Friday morning with a few basic necessities they needed and was accompanied again by Helen, the teacher’s daughter. Helen led the way and chatted with everyone happily.

We were eagerly greeted by Solo’s family. Lynnie quickly organised the two horses and helped Ava on one. The last time Ava had ridden a horse was in Vietnam in 2013 and that was with a saddle. Lynnie took Ava off on their property while we talked to the kids and adults. Ava returned saying it was good and quite comfortable. Max replaced Ava, who was a little more reluctant to go horse riding, but Lynnie led him away and he came back quite happy.

Lynnie took both Ava and then Max riding on their property.

The kids entertained us with their antics and even the youngest one at 7 months joined us and she is a real cutie.

Clockwise: PHoto 1: Tina (who is very sweet) PHoto 2: Tina’s mum with her baby sister who is just 7 months old. Photo 3 Ava with Solo’s family.

We returned to the boat sweaty and tired and boy are my legs sore after two days walking.

FIJI DAY!!!

So, what is Fiji Day? Fiji Day is on the 10th of October each year to celebrate Fiji gaining its independence from the UK when its colonial status was removed in 1970. Interestingly enough, it is actually a double anniversary as on the same day in 1874, King Seru Epenisa Cakobau signed the deed of cession which started British rule in Fiji. Fiji Day is celebrated in nearly every town, village and city and includes things like military parades, speeches, performances and street parties.

We have been in a very small, isolated area of Viani Bay for the past week, where there are no roads and the only way to reach it is by walking, horseback or boat. A German lady, Marina, runs the dive academy in the bay with direct access to the Rainbow Reef and employs a lot of locals from the area in her business. Marina hosted a Fiji Day celebration for the locals and cruisers.

The day began at 9 am, at a new reef area being established. Locals (including some very cute kids) as well as cruisers met at a buoy where Johnny, Marina’s Fijian partner, instructed everyone on how to plant coral. Johnny would find a rock away from other coral, brush off the sand and algae, place a piece of coral on the rock and then put a cement ball on top of it. I think it had sand, cement and water which you keep held out of the water until the final step. It’s really a two person job.

Brushes were quickly distributed and groups formed. Johnny brought around a piece of coral to each group and it was time to start. The local adults and kids participated in the coral planting. Max, Ava and Tristan all planted a piece each, Ava two. This little area of reef has been protected and is an area that you are asked to steer clear of to let it get established. Each year on Fiji Day more coral is added to the reef and participants are given the chance to have a snorkel on it while planting.

The video below is of us planting coral. The music accompanying the video was produced last year to commemorate Fiji’s 50th year since independence, and is called ‘Children of Fiji and is sung in English, Hindi, iTaukei and Rotuman.

There was much excitement when everyone returned to the boats, with flag flapping, excited shouts and big smiles.

Marina and Johnny organised a beach BBQ with cruisers bringing potluck. We had a delicious meal, some enjoyed cava, music, laughter, dogs and even a couple of horses joined the festivities. Thank you Olivia for entertaining us all with your country/hip-hop music selection and horse riding.

Photos clockwise: photo 1: Everyone relaxing after our meal Photo 2: The cava chief, photo 3: Tristan and Ava sharing a private joke?

Sharing Cava

More flag flying photos, led by Olivia.

Tristan and Ava enjoyed hugging the dogs, they don’t replace our favourite Portuguese waterdog Willie. Miss you Love and Luck.

Thank you Marina and Johnny from Dive Academy for organising the day, we loved it.