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Active Retirees : Active Retirees Aug-Sept
24 | www.probussouthpacific.org TRAVEL CRUISING Over the years, donations from the cruise line and passengers have helped build the library and purchase a sound system and sports uniforms. After the concert there’s time to wander the main street exchanging “bula” with everyone we meet, before the Reef Endeavour sets sail at dusk. Island hopping In the islands, we visit places far away from the resorts that many associate with Fiji, and see beautiful sights and enjoy many experiences not easily found on the mainland. We sample Fijian life at a traditional village feast, sip kava and particpate in a kava ceremony, attend a Sunday church service, and have tea with locals in their homes. And there are plenty of those idyllic Fiji fixes – swimming, snorkelling and diving in crystal waters off sandy beaches – to keep everyone happy. The cruise begins in Port Denarau on Fiji’s west coast and meanders north for two days, dropping anchor at three near -deserted tiny islands, including the cruise line’s own Tivua Island. After a full day at Levuka, the ship makes an overnight journey to Fiji’s second largest island of Vanua Levu and the quaint port of Savusavu. A favourite with yachties, Savusavu has a frontier feel and charm. The harbour is dotted with boats of all shapes and sizes, and backed by hills covered with jungle and palms. Drop anchor We spend the next two days at Taveuni, known as the ‘garden island’ and one of the few places in the world that lies on the 180 degree meridian, the point at which one day turns into the next. On arrival we take one of the jaunty open-air buses to Bouma Waterfall and National Park for a picnic lunch, and later swim at beautiful Prince Charles beach, named in honour of the Prince of Wales who relaxed on the island after attending Fiji’s independence ceremonies in 1970. In the evening we are guests at Naselesele village for a traditional lovo feast, where the food is cooked in an underground oven, and meke. Our visit follows strict protocol; the village chief welcomes us and then our captain, Brian Larcombe, presents a sevusevu (gift) of kava. Once the top men have drunk their ceremonial bowls, the festivities begin and we are treated to harmonious singing and energetic dancing from many of the 150 village people. A blessing Next morning we arrive at Wairiki, on Taveuni’s west coast, and head off to mass at the historic French- established Catholic mission. There are no pews here; we all sit on the floor under high ceilings and stained-glass windows, listening to a choir of angelic voices. The priest thanks us for attending and as we leave children gather around us again. We wander down to the battered old sign marking the spot where the 180o meridian passes through the island. Even though these days the international dateline has been moved so Fiji fits into the one time- zone, everyone has their photo taken straddling the imaginary line, with one foot planted in ‘yesterday’ and the other in ‘today’. The gesture strikes me as symbolic. In a few short days we’ve discovered the timeless charm of Fiji, the way we like to think life used to be before it all got too hectic. Yet we have experienced it on a modern vessel with all the comforts we’ve grown used to today. This combination, along with the sheer bonhomie of the Fijians and the camaraderie of shipmates, are the perfect ingredients for a memorable trip. •• Caroline Gladstone was a guest of Captain Cook Cruises. W: www.captaincook.com.au We are treated to harmonious singing and energetic dancing from many of the 150 village people. W An open-sided bus and police officer on Taveuni Island in Fiji''s north ETake a dip under the waterfall at Bouma Allimages:CarolineGladstone
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