I could only handle six days in Vava'u. I try the expat yachtie thing but it isn't really me. Sometimes it clicks but never for long. I get another shot here in Savu Savu. (Today being the fourth of July, the American yachts are having a get together later). This is my first time here in Savu Savu and so far it is alright. The yachts dominate the view from town but it feels ok. The marina and its associated business are small and just a footnote. No megayachts in the anchorage today. Being a California sailor, I see Fiji as the Mexico of the South Pacific. It is definitely the best value and it is the choice destination for the boats in New Zealand. Tonga felt expensive this time around. The market even felt like they were doing two tier pricing. Internet was higher than in Raivavae which is hard to believe.
One of my cruising guides continually uses the word "unsophisticated" to describe the major towns in Fiji. I understand why... The level of education here is low and it feels pretty third worldish in the general sense. The funny thing, though, is that a lot of people are relaxed and smiling. I noticed it immediately. In Tonga, everyone is so dignified and serious. In Raivavae, they were quiet but pleasant. I have already met a handful of locals here without even trying. It feels good.
So the first phase of this second crossing of the Pacific is over. Fiji was the first goal, not because it is a worthy destination in itself (it is great cruising but is not on my "trophy list") but because I am now in striking range of the places I really want to see.
I am also at a bit of a conundrum with how to play it out. One of the first lessons of cruising that you learn is that the seasons determine your route, not your "trophy list" or whatever else.... You get a certain number of months in each part of the world and then winds, currents and the odds of hurricanes all start to shift so you have to manage around the facts of this. I am still working on my plan. For now, though, it will be break time...
(Two of these creatures stuck with me for half a day a few hundred miles east of the southern Cooks. I don't know if you can make it out but they aren't exactly dolphin size....)