Good Morning on the first of two April 26ths we will have on this cruise. It's Sunday, but it does not feel like a Sunday. We have arrived in Suva, Fiji, and will soon disembark for our tour.
I awakened thinking about knots. No, not the tied kind but the nautical kind. I recently found out that a kilometer equals a nautical mile, but I confess to not knowing exactly what a knot is. Now, I could look it up on the internet, but I would rather rely on some of you with prior nautical experience to provide the answer. I will await your reply.
Bula from Fiji. That's supposed to mean "Hello" in Fijian, but who knows if that's correct. Suva is a town of some 85,000 people in the southern part of Fiji. On the whole, it very much resembles many cities in countries that are not poor, but definitely not affluent. The few Fijian people I met on my tour were gracious and nice. We were whisked from the ship to go to an Arts & Cultural Center about an hour's drive from Suva. Along the way, we saw many poor homes made from what appeared to be a patchwork of pieces of corrugated aluminum. The driver told us the average Fijian makes about $2.50 per hour, but expenses on the island are not cheap to live. Thus, it's not easy for the average Fijian to make economic ends meet.
The PRC (People's Republic of China aka Red China) have begun investing in Fijian infrastructure. We saw a brand new hospital and two small manufacturing buildings recently built by the Chinese. This mirrors their investment strategy in New Zealand where they bought milk producing farms and build two dairy processing plants to ship product back to China.
Before I tell you about my adventure to see Fijian firewalkers, I will mention several of the pictures I'll upload after I finish this update and recharge my computer's battery. The first few are of Suva's harbor (very nice looking). One of them shows a bunch of white ships. These ships were confiscated by the Fijian government for infringing on Fijian waters while fishing. Awaiting payment of a substantial fine, the ships from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Red China are moored together. I'd heard of some countries impounding fishing ships trespassing in their territorial waters, but had never seen firsthand an example.
The tour group watched a Fijian firewalker ceremony, and you'll some a few pictures of that demonstration. Overall, I was not impressed. The stones upon which they trod were supposed to be extremely hot, but after their demonstration was over, another part of the ceremony involved them heaping green leaves and branches on the hot stones. Never once for over another hour did I even see a whiff of smoke coming from the piled up leaves. Makes me wish I had Inspector Clouseau to investigate if there was a scam ongoing.
Following the hot rock performance, both the men and women of the arts center performed some ritual dances. The men danced a so-called sword dance even though they did not have swords. Rather, they had spears. In any case, the dance was very energetic and conveyed a good sense of anticipation and urgency since the dance was normally done just before they went to war. You will see a couple of pictures of both the firewalking and the dance.
Speaking of war, we were told that if the chief of one tribe defeated and/or killed an opposing chief, he had his adult warriors cart off the carcass for the subsequent feast. Yes, you are correct. They practiced cannibalism! That's not all. Each chief could have multiple wives. The prettiest wives of the defeated chief were chosen by the victorious one. The so-called less desirable wives became part of the feast along with their dead husband. Any kids from the defeated tribe were used as target practice by those of the winning side, and they too were eventually placed on the menu. Maybe this is how Vince Lombardi and/or Bill Belichik came up with the phrase, which I will have to paraphrase, "Winning is everything."
The women of the center performed several songs and dances to illustrate how women of the time attracted a mate, celebrated tribal victories, and kept alive certain customs. On the first ritual, two of them were going to engage in a game of juggling oranges with the winner getting to select some guy from the audience to keep (not sure if he would theoretically be a husband or dinner). Fortunately, they selected a portly Australian named Jim. Poor old Jim, no one ever saw him again (smile).
That sums up my Suva adventure. This part of the country is pretty, doesn't have too many snakes (always a good thing in my opinion), and does get beaucoup amounts of rain during their rainy season.
Tomorrow, I get to repeat Sunday, 26 April, all over again...well, with the exception of one hour. Essentially we do a "Groundhog Day" without going to the firewalkers. Cool! We're at sea the next two days before we get to Pago Pago, American Samoa.
Thanks for reading.