Getting a taste of Pacific Island life

NO, we have not gotten lost!!

We are still sailing around Fiji and enjoying every bit of it. We have spent 6 incredible weeks in the easternmost part of Fiji, the Lau Group.

Prohibited to the cruisers until a few years ago it has preserved the most genuine of village life we have seen across the Pacific. Village life means life as it used to be, without the comforts of modern life, like running water, electricity, gas to cook with, telecommunications…you name it.

So what you do when you do not have all this convenient inconveniences is spend your time the most useful way you could think of.

First of all looking after your crops, since they will feed you. Chicken and pigs run around free so no much care is needed for them. You then spend hours collecting seafood and fishing fish, which is one of the main sources of daily calories.

Weaving pandanus into mats and carving the local Vesi hardwood into mostly tanoa’s to drink the kava from takes up another big chunk of the day.

And then of course,…..socializing. On the walk to somewhere, on the way back, while weaving, carving, harvesting or fishing. There is always a moment to sit down and talk. And if not, at sunset around a big tanoa drinking grog, or Kava.

The people in the Lau group have managed to preserve their traditional lifestyle and their communities share everything amongst each other in a cooperative system. The locals live here without money and tourism is unheard of except for us cruisers.

They treated us as if we were guest of honor and you only want to make sure you observe their traditions and respect their cultural rituals.

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The lagoon in Fulaga is some of the most beautiful we have seen across the Pacific.

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Donde todavía no ha llegado el turismo, donde la accesibilidad se hace difícil, donde la modernidad aún no alcanzó las islas, en esos parajes, en esos pueblos, hemos encontrado un pequeño paraíso de aguas turquesas, con poblados de lo más autentico. Una gente con corazón abierto, viviendo el presente, el día a día, acogiéndonos en sus hogares y mostrándonos como viven acorde a la naturaleza, como sus antepasados, sin modernidades, de manera natural. Un modo de vida sostenible para el número de habitantes del poblado no muy elevado pero, como no, también con interrogantes hacia el futuro: hay menos pescado, hay menos tridacnas, hay menos coral, los arrecifes están más dañados, es una realidad. Las causas varían y van desde el calentamiento de las aguas hasta la explotación pesquera.

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Scraping kasava for lunch.

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Looking for clams at low tide.

Acabamos de pasar seis semanas esplendidas en el Lau Group, lo más auténtico de Fiji.

La llegada a Fulanga fue toda una recompensa tras una navegación de dos días contra los alisios, vientos del sureste: ante nosotros una laguna preciosa, azul turquesa poblada de rocas champiñones calcarías.

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Pero de nuevo lo que nos toco el corazón fue la experiencia con los locales. Al llegar a cualquier poblado de Fiji, uno ha de presentarse ante el jefe del pueblo, el Turanga ni Koro y hacer el Sevusevu: obsequiarle con un ramo de yangona, raíz de la planta de pimienta con la que hacen una bebida , el kava, que adormece un poco la lengua y te vuelve algo torpe y somnoliento.

En el ritual un intermediario nos acompaña y pedimos permiso para fondear en las aguas, nadar, bucear y pescar. Tras el Sevu Sevu entras a formar parte de la comunidad y ellos velarán por tu bienestar. Tras la ceremonia, Sou y Bill nos acogieron en su casa, ofreciéndonos té de hojas de limón y un bizcocho de coco.

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Sou and Bill, our hosts in Fulaga

Fulanga es conocida por sus escultores que trabajan una madera tropical , el Vesi, que tallan en cuencos , las tanoas, en los cuales se sirve el kava.

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Fulaga has some of the best tanoa carvers in Fiji.

Su economía se basa en la venta de tanoas y esculturas en Suva, así como la de alfombras de pandanus.

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Masi or tapa, a paperlike cloth made by pounding the bark of a tree and painting it with traditional colors.

Cada isla del Lau Group se ha especializado en alguna artesanía, Oneata y Namuka-i-Lau en el Masi o Tapa

Komo en el magy magy, cuerda trenzada hecha de los filamentos del coco.

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After cooking the coconut husk, the fibers get pounded in order to splice them into a rope.

Aprovechamos nuestra estancia para participar en todos estos laboriosos procesos artesanales. Dani ayudo a tallar tanoas, nosotras aprendimos a trenzar el pandanus. El pandanus se corta, se enrolla, se hierve, se hace secar al sol, se vuelve a enrollar una vez secado y ya con esa tez color arena para recortarla y empezar a tejer.

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Rolling freshly cut pandanus leaves to straighten them out.
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They then get boiled in water for 10 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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That makes them soft for future weaving.
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Finally they dry in the sun and fade into the whitish color.
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Once the material is ready, the real job begins…!!
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It looks easy but it is quite an art.
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The tapa cloth has been drying for a few days and is ready to be painted. The people from Namuka i Lau are known as some of the best Masi artist in Fiji.

En Namuka-i-Lau Mere nos obsequió con su gran arte. Nos pintó un tapa, hecha con la corteza de un árbol tipo morera con sus formas geométricas, sus colores negros y rojizos elaborados a partir de la ceniza y de la tierra roja de Komo.

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Mere said she would paint a Masi for us so that we could learn the process.
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In Fiji everything is an excuse for a social gathering. Time to tell stories, talk and entertain.
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The black color is made out of ash and cole. Good color but very messy!
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The red color is red clay that actually comes from Komo. It gets scraped and mixed with water.

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It took Mere 3 hours to paint this tapa and it was our most precious present that travels with us now. We have not yet tried it out ourselves.

Nos encantó participar en el día a día de la gente. Como no tienen electricidad ni neveras, parte del día consiste en organizar la comida: las mujeres pescan con redes

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Women are in charge of net fishing in the lagoon. Walk close to rocks and beaches, two circle the net while the other scares the fish into the net by splashing the water with their hands or palm leaves.

buscan cangrejos en la playa, se recoge los tubérculos como la kasawa, el kumala y el talo, hierbas varias y se prepara unos suculentos manjares bañados en leche de coco.

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Fijian cuisine à la tradition. Good food, good company. Yes we eat with our hands, menu is pork, taro and kasava baked in love oven (earth oven), sea slug filled with barracuda, taro leaves cooked in coconut cream, crabs….. delicious!
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Volleyball is a hot game all around Fiji. They play in mens/womens teams as well as mixed. Competition between villages is fierce and taken serious, but always with humor.
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After a long day, nothing better than some more socializing, telling stories, singing around a tanoa or kava bowl. Kava has various effects, euphoria, relaxation, and appetite suppression but it leaves no hang over the day after.

En Fulanga participamos al encuentro que tenían la juventud de la iglesia metodista. Como Mana i cake hospedaba el encuentro participamos con ellos en la elaboración del festín, los torneos de volleyball, el concurso de música y en el “Meke”, su fiesta, con cantos, bailes y kava que duró hasta altas horas de la noche. Los fijianos disfrutan del humor, de la fiesta y nos fuimos sumergiendo en esta cultura, en el Fijian Time, en sus realidades.

Ainara, Luna, Noa y Nils disfrutaron de las experiencias de los poblados y de la compañía de otros kids boats como lo relatan a continuación:

 

Kids Beach

All started with Vicky proposing to camp on the beach. We were 5 Kid boats:

Fluenta from Canada with Vicky 11 and Jonny 9, Exodus from the U.S.A with Alex 13 and Brenden 12, Nautilus from Belgium with Fien 12 and Seppe 8 and Nirvana from the U.S.A with Gigi 12 and Axel 10 .

We found the perfect spot on a beach that had 1m left at high tide were we could do the fire (that had to burn for 3 days) and the locals had cleaned everything where the palm trees were, so we had space to put the tents.

So we ended up all 12 sleeping in 5 tents. We cooked breakfast on the fire and lunch was based on coconuts that Alex, Brenden and Jonny had to climb for to then open them with the machete. We tried to keep the parents away but it didn’t really work because they kept coming to check if everything was fine.

The boys had made a shelter with palm leaves and that is were we stayed when the sun was shining too hot. The bad and good thing was without our parents we had nobody to say that we had to go to bed so we went to bed at 10 or 11pm and we woke up at dawn . The last day we had lunch on our boat because all the food was gone. That day we only went back in the night to have a last night on the fire but not on the beach. The sand pit had become our second home after all these days and it was the only place where we were safe from parents.

Ainara

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The kids decided to live on their own for a few days, setting a camp ashore, not far from where the boats were anchored.
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They organized themselves pretty good and obviously didm´t miss their parents, at all!!

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Alex and Nils are buddies.

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My Local Friends in fulaga

Our adventure in Fulaga (Fulanga) was amazing !!!   We had lots of friends and it all started when …

“Do you want to play tag?” asked Ainara to some girls that were watching us playing tag. They said YES and then they played with us (I mean we were playing with them) whatever. We were playing hide & seek/tag (hi in fijian) and some hand games. The next morning, we went to school. I was sitting next to Anna a very good friend of mine. The funniest at school was, that Ainara and me were better in English grammar than the teacher. Sometimes all students had to tell the teacher how to spell some words because he didn’t know how to spell them correct. We could talk all the time at class because the teacher didn’t even say : “don’t talk!”

As you see school is really different than in Europe and America.

Every day after school I went and played with Anna, Benina and lots of other kids.

But the end of Happy Days came closer and closer and closer. One day a very spontaneous moment mom & dad said “ Luna say bye to your friends cos we are leaving today.” My heart sank down and everybody was really sad to leave.

But now all the Lumbaz family have their BEST moment (or time ) pictures in our heart.

THANK YOU FULAGA !!!!

Luna

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School in the patio.
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It is great to see kids of so different ages, all playing together and having so much fun.
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There is no better way to make new friends than a ball game.

 

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Tip, tip, tip……….tip.
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Every time we leave a village there are new friends that are left behind. It is something the kids will never get used to and probably one of the hard parts of living a nomadic life.

 

Ein Tag in Mana I Cake

Als wir in Fulanga waren sind wir zur Schule gegangen .Es war sehr lang. Wir haben Mathe und Englisch gemacht. Danach sind wir zu Sou gegangen und haben Mittags gegessen. Es war lecker. Wir haben Kasawa , Fleisch und Suppe gegessen. Dann haben wir eine Wanderung gemacht und in einer Höhle gab es Skelette von Personen. Das war sehr gruselig. Alfreti ein Mann der sehr nett war, hat uns eine Kokosnuss gegeben die sehr lecker war. Als es Nacht wurde haben wir ein Krebs gegessen der sehr groß war.

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Climbing up hills is an almost daily activity when we get ashore.

 

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In the Lau Group, we have found several caves with the bones and skulls of people. When talking to locals, the answers are various. Mostly everybody agrees that they are from the tongan invaders who were cannibals.
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In the Lau we have gotten used to eat crabs. Land crabs mostly, but once in a while we get a mud crab which turns our meals into real feasts.

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Noa

 

Nos encantó compartir esta vida sencilla y tan enriquecedora.

 

Buscar un equilibrio entre lo natural y lo que no lo es tanto, entre nuestras necesidades primarias y el lujo de la abundancia, entre nuestros recursos que son los recursos del planeta, entre la conciencia y la práctica, entre lo que somos y lo que queremos ser: un gran debate que nos acompaña a lo largo de nuestro viaje y que está muy latente diariamente en cada uno de nosotros.

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In Fulaga the villagers organized a picnic at a beach (actually the one the kids had been using for their camp). Here we are getting ready.
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Barcelona is know anywhere we have been….
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Tui and Sabati as crew on the way to the picnic site.
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We offered to take along the villagers to the picnic site which was a lot of fun and a good way to get to know each other a bit more.
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On the beach everybody got ready and had their duties. Soki is weaving the baskets for the food we are about to prepare.
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Kasava was baked in the lovo, an oven built in the sand and heated by a fire with stones. It gets covered with sand and takes 1.5 hours to prepare any food.
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Opening the lovo. Everything we used and ate was provided by nature around us.
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Weaving the plates we would be using later out of palm leaves.

 

 

 

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Coming back of the net fishing party.
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Luna is being taught on how to kill the land crab with a stick.

 

 

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Amazing picnic table. No plastic. The crabs are cooked and we are waiting for the fish.

 

 

 

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Time to eat. Good appetite!! Kana ma leka.

 

 

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Telling stories with Mika while he repairs the net.
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Ba gathering some firewood for the kitchen.
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This is the communal lovo. They are baking bread for a feast.

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Willy painting a hermit crab we have on board.
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Barracudas getting prepared for tomorrows feast.
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Big cooking day, since people from the other villages are coming to Mana i Cake. Everybody is involved.
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Ainara and Luna help grating the coconuts.
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while Dani helps trimming the lawn.

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At night, on our way back to Lumbaz we meet Salote and Lisa who have been fishing.

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Alfretti carving our tanoa.
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It is about 4 PM and Nico is pounding his yangona (kava) which he will start drinking before 5 PM.

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Exiting the Fulanga Passage after more than 3 weeks.

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Komo, Lau Group

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Luvu Viu, the chief of Komo after presenting our Sevu Sevu to him.
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Wednesday is Cricket day in Komo. Some of the local players play in the National Team.
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While watching the cricket game, Michaeli splices the coconut rope.

 

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Lunch break at school.

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We were offered some of the most beautiful songs from the kids.
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This is the only water well there is in Komo. It is used for washing and cleaning. Rainwater provides drinking water.
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Shower time.
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One night we were invited for dinner.
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Again the kids with new friends.
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We had to walk across the island to go from Lumbaz to the village, which is on the windward side.

 

 

Yagasa, Lau Group

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Yagasa Cluster is a set of 3 uninhabited islands inside a lagoon. Lumbaz is anchored with Paws Time in the bay to the right.

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Big Vesi hardwood tree cut in order to make tanoa bowls.
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These are Penny and Jeff. What are the odds!! They worked on the Osprey just as we had. Here we are, in the South Pacific, in a small uninhabited atoll in the most remote part of Fiji and we just happen to anchor next to each other. It is a small world!!

 

Namuka i Lau, Lau Group

 

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Namuka i Lau’s anchorage is the bay between the two islands. It is a beautiful place.
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It took us 2 hours to walk from the anchorage to the village.

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Tukana grating the clay from Komo for the Masi.
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Tea time.
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Soccer time at school.

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Bath and laundry time.
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Fish drying time.
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This poor guy didn’t know what he was getting into when he started dancing with the kids.
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We have gotten used to eat crab and this one became a starter of our dinner.

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Getting a taste of Pacific Island life

  1. Lucia July 25, 2015 / 4:48 am

    Wow, increíble!!! Espectaculares aventuras, sois unos Robinsones… Gran bagaje vital. T echo d menos Genie. Besos a los 5 😘

    • lumbazander July 25, 2015 / 3:39 pm

      Gracias Lucia, nos estamos rifando a ver quien se queda sin beso tuyo 🙂

  2. Esther July 28, 2015 / 9:03 am

    Espectacular!!!
    Sempre ens quedem amb la boca oberts!!!
    Petonàsssss x tots !!!!
    Miss you Genie!

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