Sunday, October 20, 2013

Three Days of Rain

19 October 2013
We spent three days at the Beach House, and while it was a lovely and romantic spot, this was probably the coldest and wettest we've been in Fiji.  Not that we had a problem with spending our time indoors - it just took a while to get used to sleeping under a blanket again.  Or wearing a sweater all day.  Yes, we're spoiled by having lived in the tropics for 20+ years, and now we're travelling in the tropics again.  So we keep expecting hot sunny days, and the occasional wet spell just seems, well, wet!

The Beach House has this wonderful map on the wall.  It shows the "mainland" which is the big island of Viti Levu - Nadi is kind of in the middle of the west side, and Suva is all the way to the SE corner.  The Beach House is somewhat in the middle of the southern coast.  And the Yasawa Islands, where we were two weeks ago, is way off to the NW.  You can see how spread out the outer islands are - all added together, the Fiji Islands total about 7,000 square miles.  But the two biggest islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, probably make up about 80% of that figure.  (Check out the compass on the map - classic Fijian turtle design!)

Anyway, by Saturday I was tired of staying inside, so I went for a beach walk, despite the cold wet and wind.  That's what raincoats and hot tea are for, right?

This is a bizarre beach!  Okay, it was the full moon.  But still.  This photo is low tide.  I mean LOW tide!  At high tide, the boat is in a few feet of water.  At low tide, the water is, oh, maybe 1/3 mile (.5 km) away from the boat.  Really.  (I'm almost embarrassed to admit that on our first day, when we noticed how far away from shore the water was, with the breakers way off in the distance, I asked one of the staff if this was a normal low tide, or a strange low tide.  She said it was a relatively normal low tide, that the water always went that far out.  I told her I was relieved to hear it, because the water was so far away it looked like maybe it was a tsunami or something.  She laughed and reassured me that this was fairly normal, although maybe a bit lower than the average low tide.)

I tried walking out to the shoreline at low tide, and it was just weird.  First you walk on sand, with some little ripples of water.  Then there are chunks of dead coral, just random bits of coral attached to rocks in the sand, strewn around.  The occasional mooring stone.  And then very shallow water, barely a skimming of water on the sand, with little fish and crabs living in the pockets of water between the ripples of sand.  Hardly enough water to qualify as a tidepool.

The water eventually got deeper, and there was some sea grass, sea weed, maybe a soft coral or two.  But by deeper, I mean possibly 2 or 3 inches of water.  Not even up to my ankles, just enough to cover halfway up my foot, while wearing flipflops.

That's when I noticed this little guy scurrying around.

Yup, this is a little baby lobster.  He was barely 3 inches long.  Just very cute, and very worried that I'd make a snack out of him.  He kept scuttling hither and thither (he was a very literate lobster) trying to avoid bumping into my while trying to hide.  And yes, this photo is taken through the 2 or 3 inches of water - the water here is that clear.

I eventually got tired of trying to walk to the shoreline and not step on live things, so I wandered back to the dry sand.  

The upper part of the beach - the part of the beach that shows at high tide - has a much more dramatic slope than the part that shows at low tide - I guess that's why the low tide is so far away.  You can kind of see the high water mark, where the sea grass and stuff is deposited up on the flat part.  Plus the darker grey sand is the volcanic sediment that washes down from the hills.  There were a number of channels where rivers run down to the beach and into the sea, making cold spots of water to wade through.

I wasn't the only one wandering around on the beach, looking at shells and the tide and just enjoying the dreary weather.  I liked this group of Fijian boys, all in their bright coloured jerseys.  Each and every one gave me a big smile and a big "Bula!" as they walked by. 

So eventually I walked back to our bure, and it was just about time for afternoon tea.  The Beach House has a continental breakfast and afternoon tea included in the price of the room, and, well, tea includes scones with butter and jam.  So we learned to be prompt for that afternoon tea, plus today I really needed that tea to warm me up after my misty walk on the beach.

And my little buddy, the friendly kitty, decided I needed a lap warmer while sipping my tea (well, I actually went with a latte, I needed something a little stronger) and sharing bits of scone with him.
One of the things I really like about the Beach House is that the place shows a definite sense of artistry.  There are just all kinds of little touches that add up to a really special place.  

For example, the bures have different blues for the door and trim - each bure has one kind of blue, but each cluster of four bures has four different blues.  I peaked inside the empty bures in our cluster - the color of the trim and the door is the color of the interior walls.  Just a nice little design feature.

There are also lovely mosaics with each bure number, featuring a little frangipani flower in the corner.

Flowers are everywhere, as well as interesting trees, planters with giant philodendron, the landscaping is beautiful.

And every post holding up the thatched roofs is either carved and painted with Fijian designs, or covered in rope/twine weavings in traditional patterns.  There's just so much thought in all the little details.  I love it!
After tea, of course I had to go see how the tide was looking as it came in - and considering the fact that the 2 or 3 meter tide has to come in about 1/3 mile (or half a kilometer), well, it comes in fairly quickly.  This is the way the beach and boats looked just about 3 hours after the first set of photos.  Major difference!





Even at night, this is still a lovely place.  Check out our shower at night - would you believe it?  How gorgeous!  And you don't see it in the photos, but there are bas relief turtles on two of the walls, and a flower on the third.

We asked one of the staff members to help us light our fireworks - we weren't too sure how dangerous this thing might or might not be.  So Sammy (or Sami?) helped us - he's from Vanua Levu, the other big island, but he looks like a Caribbean kid with locks and a big smile.  Anyway, we took the seven stick thing down to the beach after dinner, and he buried it a few inches into the sand, just to keep it stable.  Then he lit the fuse - and wow, was that cool!  Each stick shot off a fireball way into the air, which exploded into a big white firework!  Pow!  Bang!  And it was well-timed so that each stick shot the pyrotechnic ball as the previous explosion was fading, so that it was one right after another.  People came down to the beach to watch, although the whole thing was over in about a minute or so.  But we all cheered, and it was fun.  (And of course we wished we had more of these!)

But Diwali isn't until next month, so I'm sure we can find more fireworks in Nadi!


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