Monday, July 11, 2016

Sevusevu, Snorkels and Hikes

We remain the only boat here in Nasasobo Bay. We went around to Dakuniba Village on Sunday afternoon – Michael in his sulu (skirt) and Barbara also skirted with yaqona in hand. We crossed the two logs over the stream into the village and asked for the "turanga nee koro" the head man to take us to the chief for sevusevu. This is a very important ritual when you enter any new village. It is asking for permission to be here and it is a sign of respect. The "headman" takes you to meet the chief and acts as your intermediary in the ceremony You give the headman your gift – a half kilo of yaqona. The yaqona is the dried roots that are used to make their drink "kava." A full ritual ceremony would include the making and drinking of the kava – but more often than not, that part is left out for foreign visitors. So the yaqona is presented some words are spoken in Fijian, a few cobo (claps) are made and then permission is granted. You are asked to tell a little about yourselves and there is a some small chit chat. The chief will tell you that you are welcome to walk around, snorkel and anchor. We asked if someone could take us up to the petroglyphs the following day. Chino, the headman we met would take us. We returned to our boat and a snorkel.

We went snorkeling just off the boat. It was a bit of a swim to the small reef inside the bay near the mangroves. The water wasn't very clear, but it was shallow enough to see. Michael spotted a blue spotted creature under a rock – actually two different ones in two different holes. It was the "Blue-spotted Ribbontail Ray" (Taeniura lymma). It was a new thing to see and cool. Saw some great soft corals and sponges including the very pretty xenia white soft corals that opened and closed as they fed and were like bouquets of small white flowers. Also some some larger white leather corals. Lots of small tropicals – various butterfly fish, spadefish, blennies, triggers (including the beautiful Picasso) and many more smaller varieties. It was a good swim and some nice things to see.

A local man came up to Astarte on a kayak and asked if we wanted any pumpkin. He was heading to his garden to get some. He brought us back a nice one (tried to give us three large pumpkins!). We took one and in trade he wanted "curry." That was a first! So we gave him some curry powder (along with a few other things as the pumpkin the market sold for more than the curry was worth!) He seemed happy.

The next morning we went back to the village for our hike. We anchored the dinghy and went ashore. Chino met us and we started on our hike up to the waterfalls and rocks. Pio, another young man also joined us. It is a trail that isn't taken very much and Chino had to use his bush knife in a lot of spots. You had to watch for vines, stumps and rocks underfoot. It was pretty and the birdsong was nice. We asked him to point out the barking pigeon – which we heard. Never saw one though the description was "it's smaller than a rooster." The trail had a few places where you had to cross downed trees over small streams or gulleys. We got to the waterfall first which had some damage from the cyclone. Many large trees were down on the rocks. The boulders were huge and randomly set. Pools of water nestled in various holes and a larger stream ran down the rocks. We made our way further up to the rocks that had the carvings.

The petroglyphs are subtle and unless you looked for them, they may be hard to see. The story is that the rocks that they were on, were at one point standing up (ala Stonehedge) but an earthquake knocked them down The drawings or writing is unknown – but it is thought to be of mystical significance or for use in ceremonial rituals. It was interesting to see...and something not many people know about.

The weather changed during the afternoon – a trough was coming over Fiji. But we didn't get much rain – just more clouds and rain.

Today – a snorkel on the outer reef.
At 7/9/2016 6:47 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°45.09'S 179°51.06'E

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