Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Kava Capitol

NEW PHOTOS are up! Lots to see from the Lau Group (Komo Island and Bay of Islands), sailfish catch, 21st Birthday and more.
We've been on the move again as we travel around Kadavu Island. On Monday, we negotiated the passage from Kadavu Village to an anchorage in Kavala Bay. We got tired of the constant easterlies on the windward side of Kadavu. Prior to leaving though, we did spend a nice Sunday afternoon snorkeling near "Lion's Rock" (yes it looks just like a standing lion) where we had great visibility and saw lots of pretty fish (but the camera was left aboard). The dinghy ride back though was quite long, bumpy and cold.

At about 1000 (10 am) Monday, we pulled anchored and headed off to tackle a tricky inside the reef passage for which we needed good light and calm conditions. It took about three and a half hours to make the 15 mile trip that took us through narrow cuts between reef patches and through areas of quite deep water. We had a good write-up from a very old cruising guide on how to make the passage on the inside of the reef and followed it carefully. The guide indicates which hills to line up and what points of various rocks need to be kept to port or starboard along with compass courses...so it was bit complicated and daunting. There are some markers (sticks in the ground) but many are missing. One part of the pass is quite narrow and requires several jigs and jags through narrow and shallow reefs (and one of the important "markers" was indeed missing). Luckily the sun was out and Barbara kept watch on the bow for the entire trip. That, along with the handy local fishermen who seemed to show up at the opportune times to indicate which side of a certain patch we should favor. We made it and then entered Kavala Bay and managed to figure out the last marker with the help again of a "fiber" (that's what they call their fiberglass fishing boats), that was coming out as we were about to cross a shallow area.

Kavala Bay has a village on each side – Kavala on one side and Solotavui flanks the other. The bay is surrounded by hills with pine trees, palm trees and masses of ferns as well as lots of other growing things. There is a colony of flying foxes in the pine trees on one side of us and we hear the barking pigeons and the parrots. After we got anchored we launched the dinghy and went to shore to do our "sevusevu." We decided to go to the "store" that was close to where we were anchored and leave the dinghy there and walk to the village. After meeting Roosi (spelling unknown – but that's the pronunciation) and Mika to get permission to leave our dinghy, Roosi decided to show us the way into the village as our guide. They really are that nice here! We took the low route in- because it was low tide you can walk along the shore to the village and then we returned via the "road." This must be taken when the tide is high. At the village, Roosi went in search of the Turaga ni Koro ("the headman") but he was not there (at his farm); then he went to seek out the chief – again, nobody home. So we then went to look for the Number Two Chief, who was available to meet us and do "sevusevu." It is funny that they do have every contingency planned – with the hierarchy well established. We had offered to come back the next day – but Roosi said, "no you're here now, you can do sevusevu." So with the formalities completed, the yaqona handed over and permission granted with the Cobo (claps), we then headed back to the "store" and the dinghy. This time we would take the road back which is a trail – past several farm plots and because of all the rain – a mighty muddy trail. Roosi was a great tour guide though, pointing out things of interest, including the "kava"(which means "intoxicating pepper" in latin) or yaqona plant (which we hadn't seen in the green, growing form yet.

Kavala is known as the "Kava" mecca. This area's main income is derived from the growing and selling of yaqona – the plant from which the kava is made. Kadavu is known to grow the "best" yaqona and "Kadavu Old" is the primo stuff. We hope to get to try some of the good stuff before we leave this area. They sell the dried yaqona for about $30 Fijian a kilo and Roosi told us an acre of yoqona can bring about $30,000. It takes three to five years to grow and the older, longer and bigger the root – the better the kava.

We look forward to being here a few days and exploring the waterfall and seeing some what is supposed to be remarkable bird life. We did spot one or two of the colorful parrots. Roosi stopped by the boat this afternoon with some bananas. He said he'd come back later for a tour of the boat – but hasn't returned yet. He did ask before he left if we drank kava...so who knows what that means!

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