May 27

Today is Monday the 27th here in Fiji. It is a national holiday today. I think it is Mohammed's birthday or something, though why this is celebrated in Fiji mystifies me, there being very few Muslims living in the country. What I read was that about 50% of the population is Indian (as opposed to Melanesian/Fijian) and of those about 15-20% are Muslim, so that is about 7-10% of the population which probably is no more then 80,000 people. Thus I am guessing there are about 5,000-10,000 Muslims in Fiji. Anyone with more precise data, please inform me!

Yesterday was a pretty tame day. We had Dim Sum at a local Chinese place. It was mediocre to poor. We were lucky in New Zealand to have an excellent Dim Sum place in Tauranga near the marina and were spoiled by it. Certainly up to the level of quality in the US (say New York, Boston or San Fran for example). Yes, it is one of our goals to sample Chinese food everywhere in the world we travel. Besides Dim Sum, there is one excellent Chinese restaurant in Suva. Called The Great Wok of China it is perhaps the nicest restaurant of any kind in Suva - well decorated, very clean, excellent service, etc. Most restaurants are run down and you do not want to see the kitchen type of places. The Great Wok has a Sichuanese chef and specializes in that cuisine. We have been twice so far and each time ordered completely different things and everything was outrageous! Especially the whole Sichuan fish which was "to die for". Yes, I am obsessed with Chinese food. Nuff said on that subject.

Since today (Monday) is this big holiday, we must wait one more day for our transmission. On Saturday I spoke with the mechanics at their shop and they assure me they will be here early Tuesday to re-install it and align the shaft. All the parts have arrived (from NZ) and so I am optimistic we will be able to leave Suva on Wednesday.

Our latest plan (which is like plan #5 since we left NZ only 3 weeks ago) is to head for Kandavu and the Great Astrolabe Reef. Our last plan was to head NE to Taveuni and islands in that area, but due to time spent in Suva on repairs we have less time then originally planned. Also, our inverter died and we shipped it back to the manufacturer (in Canada) and a new one is being shipped to us at Musket Cove in the Mamanuthas. It should be there in about 2 weeks so we want to get there sometime soon so we can get it.

The inverter is not an essential piece of equipment, but it is highly useful to us, especially since our newly rebuilt generator has once again failed. I don't know if I have mentioned it before, but we had the engine rebuilt again in NZ and ran it at the dock for about 60 hours with no trouble. Two days out of NZ it stopped putting out power, though the engine runs smoothly as before. I have not even bothered to try to determine the problem, I have reached my limit in dealing with that beast. The result is we have no AC power. Normally either the genset or the inverter can produce AC power to run things like the washing machine, the microwave oven and the rice steamer. And the food processor (yes, a luxury as are the other AC appliances) which means no bread is being baked - my love for fresh bread is great but not great enough to kneed dough by hand!

Our computer is powered by a separate, dedicated inverter which produces about 600watts of AC, enough for the computer but nothing else. Also, we are back to using the main engine to charge batteries. No big deal, that is how we have always operated since our genset has never worked for more then a few weeks at a time since it was installed 2 years ago.

The upshot of all this is we have no use of the AC powered items till we install the new inverter, thus our desire to get to Musket Cove sooner rather then later. After Musket Cove we will head North to the Yasawa group and spend a few weeks visiting those islands (which are supposed to have the best beaches in all of Fiji, if not the best diving). Kandavu and Astrolabe, on the other hand, are noted for the crystal clear water and great diving.