In the very earliest morning, even before sunrise, we left Robinson Crusoe Island on the southwest side of Viti Levu. The weather forecast had promised calm weather with no wind, and we looked forward to run the engine the whole trip. Calm sea makes the trip so much more comfortable.
About thirty hours later we reached our target, Fulaga. Felt good.
Inside the lagoon, rocket mushrooms covered with palms and other greens. How can it grow on just the rock?
We went to the "wrong" village, Naividamu the smallest one, with sevusevu when we arrived. But it turned out really good, almost everyone from the island was there on a meeting. We were invited for food and kava.
The non-working day, Saturday, we got guided by Sai across the ridge of the island to the outside. Though there is almost no soil at all, just rocks, it is amazingly green and lush. We would not have found the trail without him. On the way over we met some men lumbering with their heavy working Huskvarna-machine. They were really impressed that we were citizens of the country that makes these good machines ;)
Beautiful green and blue view from the ridge. Breeze anchored, she looks small.
The hike to the other side done, now a break with biscuits and water. Looking for the shade. Dogs have almost perfect camouflage colour. There are three of them somewhere...
"Look Chico! Such a tiny little crab!" "Hmmm", said Chico, "I would like to try it, may I?"
Per challenged by Sai to carry the coconuts back to the village. The coconuts were heavy, and the trail up steep, Per had the days workout with the eight coconuts. On top of the ridge we took a break and Sai told us that the stones on side of the trail are a memories of the woman that one day carried one hundred coconuts from the plantation, heading back to her house. She was really strong and wanted no help from anyone. But on the ridge she fell down, she died. The people in the village carried up the stones as a memory of the lady.
Sai and his wife Rosaline had invited us for lunch after the church service. They had cooked fish, chicken and kasava in the lovo.
Rosaline is setting the table in their pretty house. The day before she had picked a really good big-size crab. She told us she always picks on her secret spot. Any time she takes one, there is another one in there the day after. It was really delicious.
We re-anchored and went to the main village, Muanaicake. This is where the school is on the island. This year there are 55 children between five and 14 divided in four classes and pre-school. The children from the furthest away village Naividamu stay at school from Monday to Friday with one parent from their village staying with them and doing the cooking for them.
We passed on the suncaps given from another boat; China Grove, to the schoolchildren and for the teachers.
Last lesson on Fridays is sports, everyone re-dressed from school uniform and full speed outside.
Almost all of the older pupils played rugby, boys and girls together. We brought a couple of new rugby balls from our friend-boat. The school was really happy for them. Rugby is the sport in Fiji.
Heading back to Breeze, the trolley was empty going back so Ella hitched a ride.
Our hosts in the Muanaicake; Sikeli, house builder and Sera, nurse of the island. We were invited to them for lunch, good lunch.
“The seeds will be divided for the four families in the village” said Sera when we brought the different seeds from Sea Mercy for plantations.
“Four families?” we wondered quietly. “Are there really only four families in this pretty big village?”
The four families, or clans that might explain it a bit better, are much more than nuclear families. Everyone in every village belongs to one clan, being born in to who you are when it comes to clan. If someone stays out of the village for years, might be because of studies or work somewhere else, that person is still in the same clan, has the same role, when it comes to who you are in your village. Clans are in all villages in Fiji. In the island Fulaga there are three villages and four clans; two turaga clans (the headman and the spokesperson), the vadravadra (the fishermen) and the vaka (the caretakers or warriors).
This is how Sikeli explained it to us:
It is only when it comes to some decisions or responsibilities the clan makes a difference. The fishermen might decide, with the turaga ni-koro (spokesman), if it would be any restrictions regarding fishing, but the fishing for family needs is done by the man in the family, no matter clan. And if there are some commercial fishing for the village (when we were in Fulaga they were picking sea cucumbers that would be prepared and sold to China) everyone is asked to join the mission.
To become a spokesman of the village you must be born in the turaga clan. Though it is not necessarily the oldest one who takes over, it is just the clans best man for the job. And who is best is decided by all men of the village.
Being a member of one of the clans does not restrain from doing all duties for the family or in the village. The fishermen have their own plantations and they would help to protect the village if it would be attacked. But when a fisher catches a big fish, about arm´s length, he needs to give the fish to the headman who will then share it with his family. Smaller fish, half arm´s-length, is for the fisherman’s own need or wishes.
The warriors take care of the village, make sure everything is run smoothly and everyone is happy. They are also the men who blow the shell when the spokesperson or headman dies. They take turn and blow the shell day and night, from death till funeral, a way of restraining the widow from crying, and they might need to keep on blowing the shell for days and days. The warriors are also the ones deciding and planning the cooking when a new turaga ni-koro will take over, though the women are the ones doing all. When a new turaga ni-koro is crowned there is another clan, the vaka, who will blow the big shell as announcement. That clan only lives in the village Naividomu.
When a woman marries she will presumably change clan. A marriage does not at all need to be with someone from the same clan-background but when a woman gets married she moves with her husband and is taken up in his clan. That clan is the one they, and their children, belong to. If the husband would pass away the woman might move back to her old village or island and then she would move back to the clan she was born in to. Their children would also be part of her clan background in her village.
When someone moves in to a village, without any family connections, that person and his family is taken in to one of the clans, decided by the villagers at a meeting. And as long as that person stays, he and his family, belongs to the same clan. The teachers in the village all come from other islands or towns and are divided up between the clans.
And for us,
just visitors for a short time, we were part of the vaka, the
warriors/caretakers, since we were adopted by Sikeli and Sera. But everyone we
met took just as good care of us and shared their time, no matter the clan.
Ladies from Muanaicake well-dressed for one of the three days a year when they walk around for a village-, garden- and house-check competion. Everyone in the three villages are so well prepared with the cleaning both inside and outside, both their own houses and the village. We saw almost everyone the last week being busy with preparations.
"Lets go and see how it looks in the village by the ocean."
"And how does it look in this house? Good, very tidy and nice."
And in the next village, Monera, they played cricket since it was a Thursday.
Getting to the last village, Naividamu, by boat. Everyone in the same boat.
The villages take turn beeing the last one, and the ladies in the last one are the ones preparing all the food for the late lunch early dinner.
But only the guest ladies sit down and enjoy the good food, the host village prepare and take care of everything.
Then a competition in dresses, different dresses every year. Some of the participants really gave us a god show and laughter.
And the men of Naividamu were happy to sit down and drink kava.
When the competion was done and the prizewinners had gotten their prizes for dress, garden, village and woven carpet it was a meeting about contribution to another island that belongs to Fulaga. And a big discussion about the next day in November.
Day is over, time to go home
Soft sand! One of the beaches on one of the small islands on the western side. Almost everyone in the village told us we must go there.
Alifereti paddled by Breeze and gave us a really good sized crab, the second one he gave us. Nothing tastes better, beats any lobster.
Wakeboarding by the Sandspit.
Not ready yet, the next time the ferry comes in these sea cucumbers will be ready and sent to Suva for further delivery to China. "Have you tried them?" we asked. "No! I would never eat those, everyone answered". But they are really good to sell to China. The price is between 20 and 100 FJD per kilo, depends on what kind of seacucumber it is.
A way to wait for the delivery ship to come in. Fishing. The ship with supplies comes once a month, but when is always a question. Some people carried down their goods early morning and sat waiting for a whole day but with no ship coming in. Some of the ladies went picking shells and mussels instead.
And finally, same time as we left, the ship came in. Everyone in Fulaga had waited, for the ferry with supplies, they were all prepared to pick things up and re-load with deliveries for the main island. Some of them would also go on board to get to Suva, catching up with family, doing business, church matters or maybe medical questions. Them, who left, would all try to get the next ferry back, next month.