10 – 14 April 2013
It was a long 4 hour boat ride from Nukusa Village to Labasa Town where we stayed overnight before heading to Kia Island. We armed ourselves for the next stretch of island village living, quickly shopping for a million little things like Milo, laundry detergent, more mosquito repellent, mosquito coils, junk food and most important – getting new pairs of glasses made, all in one rainy morning before heading to the island nearest the GSR!
In Udu Point, while he went snorkelling, Yogi’s glasses shattered in the supposedly safe Pelican case. Very old spare glasses made Yogi see poorly, so we couldn’t believe our luck that Labasa Town had a wonderful, efficient and obliging optometrist! Dr. Kishore Singh whipped his magic and made Yogi 2 brand new pairs of glasses (and me 1 pair because I got envious) in a few hours, cutting his thumb with Yogi’s old shattered glasses in the process! We had to take a picture of his office while we looked for frames. The good doctor found new frames which matched Yogi’s old frames exactly (a third of what it cost us in Australia) which he purchased from a supplier from Perth! Who would have thought?! We love unexpected “finds” like these.
With super service, we were picked up by Akuila Tutora, the Turaga Nikoro or village leader of Ligau Village of Kia Island. The morning downpour stopped by noon and all our gear were carried to the open fiberglass boat as we headed to beautiful Kia Island – the nearest inhabited island to the Great Sea Reef. It took us around an hour from Labasa to Kia Island. We were right smack in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean and it was a beautiful sight. There are three villages on Kia – Yaro village with the sunrise views and Ligau & Daku with the sunset views.
Just to put this place in context, here is another map to point out where Kia Island is in the South Pacific. A small island with a monolithic rocky mountain cradled by a barrier reef! And on top of the mountain is an old cannon. To this day, the locals don’t know who owned the cannon. It is a steep climb up with rocks to get there with tall grass hiding the pathways. No, we didn’t even attempt to do a climb…
The men from Ligau Village had just come back from fishing when we arrived. More than a dozen frigate birds flew very close to the beach picking up discarded baitfish and fish offal, as the fishermen cleaned their fresh catch of the day.
Soon after we arrived and settled into the home of Akuila and his lovely wife Diana, the menfolk played rugby illuminated by the warm afternoon sun, quite a contrast to that morning’s pouring rain in Labasa! After the rugby game, we were treated to a spectacular sunset – our very first in Fiji! I asked the kids following us if they had sunsets like this everyday and they said yes. I asked again, “as in everyday?!” They answered yes. I couldn’t believe it so I asked again, “as in everyday??” And a boy answered “E VERY DAY!” That shut me up with my stupid questions.
For the next four days, we quietly photographed this lovely village. We went to the marine protected area and snorkelled the reef, with Akuila skippering the boat. We watched all the fishing activities that went on from morning to night – fishing being the main source of income for the village. With no electricity in Ligau Village, we photographed how life looked like illuminated by kerosine lamps.