August 15, 2020 Saturday Denarau Marina, Viti Levu, Fiji
Almost a month has passed since the last diary, the one from July 18, to the arrival in Fiji, this testifies to two facts, one of how it is more difficult to write on the ground, and the other of how the days pass so quickly, and happens every day to say that I will write tomorrow, or how it happens when you have to start a diet, Monday …
The nocturnal arrival at Nadi bay left little understanding of the nature of the landscape, while aided by Navionics cartography and some anchoring lights (actually 4 boats), we were able to safely anchor on the 8-meter bathymetry of a gulf. in reality only apparently free from emerging dangers, although discreetly signaled.
We arrived on Friday night, after 11 days and 11 hours of navigation, therefore with still about 3 days, now more now less, to be served to complete our quarantine. We were unaware, but happy to have landed in a new land, and eager to discover it, of Fijian times. Here there is “Fijian Time”, that is, never do immediately what you could do in a while and never rush, smile and enjoy your life. This we will then discover to be one of the pleasant aspects of life in these islands, while it seems heavier to bear when, applying the same rules and principles, we are left at anchor practically ignored until Monday, with no possibility even to get off the tender to go. from friends of Milanto or Sea Lover; we talk to each other via radio, and we wait.
A week later they come on board to take us the Covid test, not without constant pressure from the honorary consul and the Italian ambassador, who have positively pushed our practice, because we could not have served 8 days of sentence at anchor, but the fateful ones 14, despite 1800 miles on the shoulders in open water. This is sailing in Covid time, a bureaucratic torture rather than a marine one.
Finally on Saturday 25 July we are granted the right to moor at the Denarau marina, a modern and efficient marina where however a ghostly stasis reigns. Covid has shut down all tourist activities; the boats that usually take tourists strolling around the islands have bearded hulls from time that they do not sail, every commercial activity is closed, except for a supermarket, more for locals than for others, and a restaurant-bar-pub that welcomes the evening with live music! In fact it is Saturday.
However, we are used to this new “Covidian” way of savoring the places, so much so that the impressions we receive perhaps one day will be disappointed when hordes of thousands of tourists flock to these docks to gain a beach or a shade of a palm tree. Indeed, I am sure we will be disappointed.
But what Fiji never misses is the smile of the people, which we also appreciate because they don’t know the use of the mask. Here the Covid is not there, or if there is you can’t see it, and we went to the BULA BULA (which practically means Hello Hello), it is a way of saying goodbye, a cross between Hello, good morning, smile it’s a beautiful day, all in a single word “BULA”, while when you want to thank for a favor received or for leaving a place you say VINAKA, a mixture of thanks, it was a pleasure, goodbye.
The climate is drier than in Polynesia, and divides the large island of Viti Levu in two, (about 250 km in diameter on its longer side and 130 on the other); the eastern part, where the capital Suva is, the climate is more humid, the vegetation is luxuriant and it seems that it rains 365 days a year, at least once a day, while the western part, the more touristic one, hardly rains never, the vegetation is adequate to the climate and sugar cane predominates, which does not need much water, while the mountains are more arid, without however lacking coconut palms, bread trees, mangoes and papayas.
While the authorities still visit us, they measure our fever, check that the food on board is not inadequate, that there is no alcohol, that we do not have too much cash, we manage to have the stamp on our passport: entry by sea and being authorized to circulate with a visa valid for 4 months for the person. Ariel, on the other hand, will get an inter-island navigation permit only a week later, but valid for 18 months… strange Fijian rules. But they start to like it, and we will discover day after day that the heart of Fiji is love, friendship, sharing, the joy of living.
This is one of the reasons why we finally decide to leave Ariel, since she can, and maybe come back with other friends, to share all this. Another reason is the grueling struggle that a poor navigator has to endure with the various governments today to be able to move freely in time of Covid. Despite negative swabs and quarantines lived in the middle of the waves. I refer to Australia, our final destination in this first step of the world tour; if the ARC had continued to exist we would have landed in Brisbane and returned home around the same time.
Here the thought of reaching the initial goal becomes strong, and then we begin the practices with the embassy, with the delegate of the Foreign Ministry in Canberra, and with the Italian consul in Fiji and with the OCC.