May 13

We woke early, as the tropics demand, and got over to the Yacht Club anchorage, which is right practically in the middle of Suva and has all the charm of any third world industrial center. Compared to PagoPago it was not so bad - no tuna cannery - but the local garbage dump is situated next to the Yacht Club (almost) and at times can be quite pungent. But, this is one of only two possible places in Fiji where we might get our transmission repaired.

In fact, it may be the only place we can get it repaired, though it turns out we may have to go to Lautoka to have the boat hauled so we can remove the transmission since it may prove impossible to remove while the boat is in the water. We will see in the next day or so. Meanwhile, we can limp along as long as we put fluid in the gearbox regularly.

This morning we went right to the Yacht Club (with our garbage of course) and started to figure out the lay of the land. There were some very helpful people at the place who gave me several names to check on for the transmission. We took a cab to downtown and went right to Immigration to complete entry procedures (on Saturday we only cleared in with Health and Customs - enough to legally walk around until Immigration is completed). We spent an hour or two there, but it was air conditioned.

Then we went across the street to the first Chinese restaurant we saw and had some lunch after which Jonah and Kate went to find some ice cream while I proceeded to the Office of Fijian Affairs to procure a Yacht Permit which is required to allow a foreign yacht to visit anywhere in Fiji whatsoever except one of the 4 official Ports of Entry (Suva, Lautoka, Lavuka and Savusavu). Finding the building took longer then getting the permit - it was all very informal. There is no fee and the permit itself is merely a letter, written in Fijian, which you are instructed to present to the Chief of whatever and each village you may stop at, which gives your particulars and grants you permission to visit. Last year we had to get such a permit as well, but in each of the two villages we stopped at, where we presented the chief with the sevusevu (a ceremonial gift of Kava root) he neither mentioned nor asked to see the letter (which I had on me in case he did). I have no real idea what the letter says except that I can read the English names of myself and family and the names of the places I told them I was planning to visit (which was basically every part of Fiji so we are covered regardless of where we end up going).

After that I walked back toward the yacht club end of town, stopping to stroll through the wonderful fresh produce market. The variety and abundance of the produce reminded me of Apia, Samoa where a similar, yet better organized and laid out market impressed me greatly last year. That one was, of course, populated by Samoans, a hearty and friendly people to be sure. The Fijian market is different of course the same way Fiji is different from Samoa, it is ethnically and culturally diverse - yet the expected friction between these cultures was not visible to me and instead what I saw was how well these cultures seemed to blend, at least at the market. Of course I am speaking about Ethnic Fijians and Indians who make up 50% of Fiji's population (more in the cities, almost none of them live in the outer islands). All seemed friendly to me. No coup this year I guess.

Well, tomorrow is another day.