Friday, August 02, 2013

Road trip to Suva

On Wednesday July 31st, we rented a car with Helena and Kari of SV Merilelu as we all had to visit the Indonesian consulate (in Suva Fiji) to complete our paperwork for our Visas for their country. It is required before we enter Indonesia which we expect to do in September. Suva is on the opposite side of the island, about a pleasant 3-hour coastal drive....if you don't make any unnecessary stops.

But of course we did. We noticed a very bright and ornate temple so we stopped to take a closer gander. As Helena and I both had skirts that were considered too short, we were required to cover them with wraps before entering. We also had to don long sleeves. Men too had to be covered with long pants and sleeves. Very conservative folks.

Adroitly ornate

Prayer sessions were scheduled throughout the day and one was in session while we were there. With women and girls seated on the floor on the left and men and boys on the right, there was a lot of chanting and offerings. Everything was quite strict with no photos allowed inside the temple.

Our next stop about halfway to Suva was at a tourist shop whose sign proclaimed Browse in Peace. It had exquisite carvings, jewellery, etc. and we stayed for coffee and muffins before continuing onward.

Once in the large city of Suva, we quickly found the consulate and presented our paperwork to the friendly, smiling staff. She helped with any information that we were not sure on how to answer and quickly sent us on our way until the next morning when our Visas would be completed and ready for pickup.

We booked 2 bures (cottages) at the eco-friendly Raintree Lodge, a short drive from busy downtown Suva. Perched on the edge of a small lake and located in a lush rainforest with over 100 different plants and trees, it was a pleasant change from noisy city life. The site was formerly used as a rock quarry for 20 years when suddenly it was filled to a depth of 30 m (110 feet) when fresh water springs were encountered. Still today, 2 trucks and a bulldozer lay on the lake bed.

Jordan overlooking the lake from our cottage balcony

The restaurant also overlooked the brown coloured lake water. If you felt lucky, you could fish for your own food that the restaurant would cook for you. We threw a bit of bread in the water and watched as small fish and large eels snapped for it.

The rainforest was busy with a multiplicity of tropical tweeting birds could be heard in the fresh early morning air. We strolled over to the resort's swimming pool next to the picturesque lily pond.

Water lily and lily pads

We picked up our processed Visas from the Indonesian consulate and then went our separate ways (Helena and Kari wanted to get back to Vuda Point Marina right away but Jordan and I wanted to drive the rest of the way around the island of Viti Levu as we were already about halfway around.)

We also wanted to track down a converter/transformer so that we could plug Sea Turtle into 240-volt shore power whenever we are at dock side. Our boat is wired primarily for 12V but we have basic supplemental 110V circuitry. As well, we have 110V tools and appliances. We are now, and will be for quite some time to come, in countries with 240 volts.

We don't often need to plug in to maintain our house batteries as we usually have either enough wind for our wind generator and typically have plenty of sun for our solar panels. However, with boat jobs using power tools and the power hungry computers, we can quickly run down the batteries if not careful. We were able to locate what we needed but it was back at Nadi, on the other side of the island, close to our boat.

We started our trip around the other half of the island but were disappointed to learn that we shouldn't take the mountainous route as we had planned. Apparently it was a very poor gravel road and would take a very long time to commute. We then took the coastal route for an hour and were once again redirected to better roads. We went inland a bit and found the roads to be satisfactory, taking us first through some lovely tropical hill country with tidy but humble little villages where the extremely friendly locals sold their roadside produce.

Surprisingly, we arrived back at Vuda Point Marina on Thursday at the same time as Helena and Kari who had taken the bus! Upon our arrival, we discovered that a large area of several miles was without city water, including Vuda Point, and would be without for possibly several days. This meant no toilets, laundry, or showers except onboard boats. Lucky for us! Businesses, as well as individuals, were hauling in and carrying jugs of water for use.

Early Friday morning, Jordan and I drove to Nadi where we picked up the converter. When we returned, still no water...maybe we should have stayed in Suva! It wasn't until early Sunday when Jordan went to check that the water was restored. So knowing there would be some smelly sailors making an overdue pilgrimage to the washers and dryers and showers, I quickly gathered up laundry and beat the rush. Water is precious on boats, but you take it for granted when on land until it is not available.

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