Sharks and Savala

Check this one out.

Please imagine the theme song to Jaws as you look at this photo

What I like about the photo is it makes it seem there’s a really big shark closing in on Cara and me as we snorkel off of Savala, an uninhabited island off the coast of Fiji. It’s lurking there, sizing us up. Are we worth pursuing?

Can you feel the excitement? Can you feel the danger?

Of course, marine biologists and shark nerds can probably spot that it’s just a reef shark. And the truth of the photo is this: I took it lying on my belly in about six inches of water. The shark is maybe six feet away and is itself maybe a foot and a half long. How non-scary were these sharks? Cara spotted them first from the beach and, I kid you not, practically chased after them on foot — then donned snorkel gear and went in looking for them.

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Stressful Day in Fiji

Place is lousy with lizards (none of which we saw in the wild)
Not much to report on yesterday. We stayed near the Outrigger. Walked over to Kula Eco Park and touched some iguanas. Heh. That’s what she said. The iguanas in Fiji are small – so small they’re almost actually cute, unlike those ugly monster lizards I lived with for a while in college who’d sidle up to me whenever I was eating and be like, “Gimme a lima bean” (sorry, Steph!).

Following some iguana fondling and snake holding, we walked around the park, which is in essence a tiny zoo consisting mostly of birds, plants, a few lizards, a couple of sea turtles and bats. Finally, I could see one of these bats up close and personal and take a picture and . . . well, the bat seemed even more excited to see me.

Be careful where you point that thing!

After that, we returned to the hotel and were carted up to Bebe spa up the hill for a one-hour couple’s massage. We had our feet exfoliated with sugar and mango and god knows what else before being oiled up and rubbed down to the point that it was all we could do to string a coherent sentence together after the hour was up. We wandered over to the hill top bar for a fruity drink and some tapas, then carted back down to the hotel where we unwound from such a stressful day by sitting poolside.

Shhhh. Quiet zone.

I’m not even going to tell you what we’re doing today.

On River Rafting and Watefall Swimming in Fiji

For your safety...
Five minutes into the safety presentation, my only thought was this: “I’m a dead man.”

We were standing on the banks of the Wainikoroiluva river, inflatable kayaks at our feet, well-used life-preservers strapped tightly to our persons, helmets crammed onto our heads. One of the Rivers Fiji guides was standing in the ankle deep water, which was rushing around his legs and heading about 100 yards downstream where it frothed up around a series of boulders that looked much larger than the ones in the brochure.
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And Now a Brief Word from Fiji

No highly detailed account of yesterday’s activities. There are photos and stories, yes, including some sea kayaking and the first rain since we’ve been here. But we’re going to spend today recovering from the excitement of the International Frog Race. The Fijian frog won. We think. I suspect shenanigans may have been involved!

Actually, it’s 6 a.m. and we have a van picking us up in under an hour to whisk us away to a river rafting tour, so not much time to write. Maybe tomorrow.

Is it just me or is this tree really damn creepy?

Another day in Fiji

Why yes, I only brought one shirt.
At Le Cafe, in Fiji
One of the things that has always worried me about resort travel is the prospect of getting stuck in an isolated area on a resort with nowhere else to go. Sure, having people cater to you all day is nice and all, but I do get restless. Not only do you miss out on the actual feel for the place you’re visiting, but on a practical level the resort can charge you ridiculous prices for food and drink. It’s like a cruise ship without the seasickness.

So one of the first things we did upon arrival was walk up the beach in either direction to see what else there was. On either side are a few more hotels of varying levels – from adult summer camp to fancy. There are also aggressive cab drivers walking the beach and the road to the west. One, in fact, tried to sell us on his cab services, his tour services, his rental car services and a “real” Indian meal cooked by his wife—for a charge, of course. Some might jump at the chance of such a meal, but I’m not a huge fan of Indian food and the guy kept getting us to go with him to his car so he could show us a brochure. And his car was behind a fence.

Of course, his name was Ken.

We declined.

But last night we did venture to Le Café, an open-air ramshackle place with a couple of cats, some wobbly bar stools, a limited menu and cheap beer. We spent about three hours there, the first half of which was in conversation with an elderly British couple, Derrick and Hazel, who’d just spent some time travelling, Hong Kong, Singapore, three weeks driving around New Zealand, and were now unwinding at a hotel up the beach that had no phone, TV or radio. Both retired, Derrick is 71 and Hazel 60-something. They were knocking back beers and telling us of the schooner trip they’d made the day before. I hope I’m that cool and active when I’m that age. Ah, hell, I hope I’m alive when I’m that age.

We also did a bit of snorkeling yesterday morning. We are on what is known as the Coral Coast. So, the white sand beaches you see on the outer islands of Fiji are not what we have in front of us. What we do have is coral. There’s a dead patch right off the beach, but a short swim beyond that and there were plenty of fish, starfish, sea cucumbers, even a couple of eels. It was a little cloudy so visibility wasn’t the best in the world, but we might give it another shot today.

Here, fishy-fishy.

Still trying to get a picture of one of those damned bats. You think something that big would be easier to photograph, but they’re faster than you think — and flying in low-light conditions. Instead, we leave you with toads on the moon.

Toads! In! Space!

Not a Bad Way to Start the Week

Tuesday Morning
It’s 6 a.m. on a Tuesday morning and I’m sitting on a balcony drinking the sort of in-room instant coffee served by even some of the best foreign hotels that would shock the sort of American who’s used to staying in at the Motel 6.

But I am in Fiji, so this is perfectly fine with me. The truth is the instant isn’t so bad and, unlike some other foreign hotels I’ve been in, the coffee in the restaurants is actually delicious. Besides which, we are not here to drink coffee. We are here for vacation, we are here to relax.
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