July 11, 2008
Yesterday I had another interesting unusual birthday. Last year we were in Papeete, Tahiti on my birthday searching through the industrial section of town(incredibly ugly) looking for a water pressure pump. This year we were in Lautoka, the second largest town in Fiji – doing last minute stuff to prepare for our departure to Vanuatu. It is a pretty ugly town too – with lots of crime. It is recommended that you do not walk anywhere at night (and we did not) – and we found that even during the day there a lot of unsavory characters walking around. Too bad, because it “could ” be a very charming town, filled with Indo-Fijians – complete with saris, sari shops, curry, etc. There is a terrific fruit market with piles of fruit and vegies and kava to buy – everything for either $1 or $2, depending on how big the pile was. We were thrilled to finally stock up on some fresh fruit after having very little of it these past 3 weeks.
The night before my birthday we went to a nice Chinese restaurant with Michael and Britta. All of the stores in town have metal grates covering windows and doors and someone has to unlock the door for each customer. Lovely. The meal, however, was yummy, and we were able to jump right in a cab after and head back to our boats. The other bad part about Lautoka and the harbor is that they process sugar cane right by the docks and there is a huge plume of black sootpouring out of the factory night and day. It gets into your lungs and by morning the entire boat was covered in black soot. So much for paradise.
We were able to go to an internet cafe yesterday (first time in 2 months), but are still not able to get our blog working. We will try again in Vanuatu.
We had a little birthday party on the boat last night with Michael and Britta from “Vera” and another couple we just met on “Promesa” (she is from Columbia and he from Holland). It was really nice – I even got presents!
We checked out of Fji this morning – after filling out four pages of forms (with the exact information we had been asked for in triplicate when we checking in a month ago). It is quite sad – such a beautiful country, but bad government and a whole lot of unhappy citizens do not make it a paradise for visitors. We enjoyed the islands very much but would never want to spend any time on the “mainland” where the cities are.
So now we are anchored in the lovely quiet and clean little anchorage 25 miles south of Lautoka awaiting the morning light when we will lift anchor (with Vera) and start heading the 460 miles east-south-east to Vanuatu.
Thank you to everyone who sent me birthday wishes. I had a memorable birthday!