Thursday, October 1, 2015

Life's short and Fiji is great

The beach at Wailagilala Island.
We're a month or so away from leaving for New Zealand. Our friend Owen swears that Amelie IV and we will singlehandedly boost the GDP of New Zealand when we arrive and start buying boat parts and supplies. We have a long to do list that keeps getting longer, which has set off my usual hand-wringing about spending so much money when we're not making much.

Holy bats, Batman. There were thousands of these guys.
However, it's impossible for me to get too anxious about finances when Fiji is so awesome. Honestly, I wasn't expecting too much from Fiji. Matt and I visited Fiji (and New Zealand) 14 years ago and while I enjoyed it, I thought I knew what it was all about: great diving, lush vegetation, kava, brain forks, and pushy vendors. After two weeks here, I am just blown away by the unique topography, wildlife, and friendly people.
Could you both look at the camera at the same time?

No? At least the view is nice... (Bay of Islands)

So far we have visited Savusavu, the Bay of Islands in the Lau Group, and a couple of amazing spots on our way back to Taveuni. In the Bay of Islands, we saw almost no other boats and anchored among cliffs and mushroom islets filled with tropical vegetation. Thousands of fruit bats nested nearby as we explored caves and snorkeled.

271 steps--the record for ascending them is 56 seconds.
I did not set the record. For the record.
Nestled in the corner of Duff Reef is a tiny island made up almost entirely of 'pink' sand. Mark and Conrad were in heaven because they love the beach and the whole island is a beach. There were dozens of enormous (six feet in diameter) loggerhead turtles swimming around the anchorage waiting to mate (one made Matt a little nervous as he snorkeled nearby) and lay their eggs in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, there were a handful of turtle bones littering the beach from turtles that we think must have been killed for food.  The only drawback to the island is that it gets pretty rocky at high tide in strong winds as the waves crash over the reef.

A nautilus shell that the caretaker at Wailagilala gave
Conrad. Conrad wants you to know that he is not
naked below the waist. Nope.
Our next stop was Wailagilala island, which is surrounded by big swaths of white sand (can you tell we have been a little beach deprived lately?). It has been leased by a wealthy absentee Australian, who is having numerous houses built for friends and family. We were treated to very close encounters with curious boobies (the birds, not the mammaries) and even saw a rare juvenile red-footed booby from a few feet away.

Curious brown-footed boobies examining the boys. They
came a lot closer than this. Wailagilala Island.
A juvenile red-footed booby, with Mom nearby.
This is the closest we have gotten to one.
We have had so many unique experiences during our travels that we admittedly get a little jaded sometimes.  It's nice to know that we can still be wowed.

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