Sunday, August 17, 2014

Arriving at Savusavu, Fiji

Sunset at Coustou Resort
The sunset at Savusavu

Copra Shed Marina
The Copra Shed Marina
After spending a few very blustery days at Minerva Reef, the winds finally abated enough to carry on and complete our trip to Savusavu, Fiji, arriving on May 25th (yeah, I know……waaaaaaay behind on my posts!  Bad Stacey!).

Customs officials being brought to a boat.
We were quickly greeted by the very friendly staff of the Copra Shed Marina who showed us to our reserved mooring and soon dispatched the local officials to our boat.  Checking in at Savusavu is an absolute breeze, especially compared to some of the other stories we heard from friends that checked in elsewhere.  Here, it’s all coordinated by the marina and they not only bring the officials to your boat, but also take care of getting your cruising permit for you – fantastic service and well worth the $5 US they charge you for it. 

Abandoned Boat
Some boats get left for good here...
The first officials to visit are from Biosecurity and Health.  Once they have determined you are healthy and that you’ve not brought anything illegal into the country (and you’ve fed them lots of cookies), you take care of a couple easy forms and off they go to be replaced by the next group, Customs and Immigration.  More cookies and a couple more forms and viola!  We are officially good to go.  Not enough Fijian cash on board to pay the fees?  No problem – just drop the money by the office sometime over the next week.  All four officials were extremely courteous and friendly.  I think I’m definitely going to like it here…. 

Downtown SS
Downtown Savusavu
By the time we’d finished with the officials and completed all the post passage activities (getting the boat ship-shape) it was time to go and visit the MANY boats we knew in the harbor and catch up over beers at the “yacht club”.  We couldn’t believe how many boats we knew in the anchorage – there must have been 12!  And several were some of our favorite people – just what the doctored ordered.  It was great to catch up with friends and to share our adventures since we had last connected.  Even better was going out to great curry dinner with two rounds of drinks for a mere $10 per person!!!  I am DEFINITELY going to like it here – we can actually afford it!

Bus Station
The bus station - usually a HUB of activity!
Savusavu is a sweet little town, with a main street, lots of little clothing and cheap goods shops, a couple of restaurants and two main grocery stores.  The grocery stores were MUCH better than anything we saw in Tonga, but still not even close to something you’d find in the US.  It’s  like something between a mini-mart and a small local grocery store at home – mostly filled with the basics.  But I’m not complaining!  Just happy to have a place to restock.  Even better was the produce and fruit market since we were completely out of everything fresh!  Turns out in early May you can get many things, including pineapples, bananas (there are ALWAYS bananas), papaya, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant and bokchoy to name a few.  There was even a little lettuce – awesome!  And don’t forget to pick up some kava – the national drug of choice.  We would need that to present to village chiefs along the way – but more on that in another post…

Fishing 2
Locals fishing at sunset
Something we particularly enjoyed in Savusavu was watching the Fijians fish as the sun went down.  They have these crazy rafts that look a little like the one Tom Hanks made in the movie Castaway - made of bamboo and mighty rickety looking.  The locals go out right at dusk and fish for hours.  Some of them have little LED lights on board, but most are just fishing in the dark.  Never did find out what they were catching... 

More people fishing...those rafts are crazy!
All in all it was just great to finally be in Fiji – the land that we’d heard so much about and have so looked forward to seeing.  And we were especially thankful to have had a fairly easy trip from New Zealand since the area is known for its harsh weather.  Thanks be to the weather gods and for another successful long passage!
Dogs run wild in downtown Savusavu

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