RakiRaki – Welcome to paradise

14 Nov

Friday.  Friday morning.  Friday morning early.

I’m awake at 3:30am for the bus to the ferry.  The sky is pitch black, but the stars are out – my favourite constellation , Orion, is clear in the sky – but the wrong way up for someone from the northern hemisphere.  The Southern Cross is low on the horizon, and the rest of the stars blaze out from the deep black velvet of the sky.  There is no trace of dawn invading the blackness of the sky..

Back onto the bus, wishing that the seats had been designed with the more amply proportioned Fijian in mind – I’m perched half on half off the seat bracing myself against being thrown off.. And unable to drift off to sleep in case I slide off the seat instead.

An hour later, we’re on the ferry, and the sky starts to light up.. Fortified with a cup of coffee, I spend the next hour on the ferry watching the sky change into varied shades of purple, then orange, shading beautifully – and just when it seems like the show is over, the sun appears and blazes deep shades of fire over the receding island.  And that was worth visiting Ovalau for, worth the early start.. Just for those few minutes of kaleidoscopic beauty.

Into Coravou – it’s only me getting off the coach in this little junction town – a brief wait for the local bus to Rakiraki.  The trip takes me past the river and through the mountains for another eye catching trip of incredible beauty and bonejarring transport.  The roads under construction, but they don’t bother diverting the traffic – we just travel over the roadworks.  And it doesn’t matter: I’m captivated by the views as the Kings Road follows the river through mountains, past waterfalls and tiny villages..

Until finally the bus dumps me at Volivoli junction.  Lonely Planet is mistaken… the junction isn’t 1.3km from the resort, it’s more like 4km.  So Tigger, Snuff and I set off up the hill – but Fijian hospitality takes over – first the local farmer gives me a lift, then the local fire brigade let me hop aboard, delivering me into a beautiful little resort in the middle of gorgeous islands, beautiful bays and turquoise seas.

I’ve not been upgraded this time, but that’s OK – I’ve got a dorm room to myself anyway.  I’m the only person in the resort now the three girls have left (after imparting some useful advice about the steps on the dive boat). The only thing likely to disturb my tranquillity is the sound of ripe mangoes bouncing off the roof.

Oh, apart from ‘Club Feejee’ who have just arrived.    Think ‘Club 18-30’.  Anyway, diving is sorted, and it’s beautiful here… just time to do some washing and write this blog entry, while the wonders of the day are still fresh in my mind, and still vivid in my memory – images of breathtaking scenery, the coruscating sunrise, jade islands and warm water…..

Saturday

The rain has arrived… in torrents.  Bouncing off the roof.  Thudding into the surface of the swimming pool.  But it adds a strange beauty to the landscape, a soft mistiness to the hills.  Fortunately, it’s died down before my dive lesson. A quick review in the pool, and then out into open water.  It’s fascinating out there, little fish darting around (loving the zebra fish the most), strange mounds of sand that obviously conceal something we can’t see.  I get some of the skills wrong, panicking because I am being observed… but it all becomes easier moment by moment.  After the dive off the beach, Nick and I head off in the dive boat to dive a deeper reef off shore.  The visibility is poor, and it’s easy to lose track of Nick in the murk, but it’s still fun… I have a few problems staying at neutral buoyancy, it might be the fact that I have a huge lung capacity, or I might just be crap at breath control – but it’s crazy down there.  Two more dives tomorrow and I’m certified.  Or certifiable.

More rain in the evening, but it’s great to sit out on the veranda, coffee in hand, and write this blog….

Sunday

I’m told that I am late for diving.  No-one told me it’s an hour earlier.  This time we rocket out to the far reef… and it’s fabulous.  Visibility is great, and there are so many incredibly beautiful fish out there huge shoals of silver fish swimming in concert like something out of Finding Nemo, beautifully coloured angel fish, electric blue fish that are larger than any I’ve seen like that before.  We dive some simple caves, I complete my skills review, and that’s it.  It takes me a few moments to work out what the instructor wants me to do as we ascend.. I’ve been so engrossed in the fish that I’ve forgotten.  What’s dive sign language for ‘what the bloody hell do you want me to do’?  Ah yes, a CESA ascent. Why didn’t you say so before?  Well, now I’m a Certified Diver (certifiable, if you ask me).  I confess to the instructor that I’ve yanked the dump valve pull off my BCD. Anyone want to go diving?

Did I mention that it’s raining?  Perhaps I actually AM a rain god.  Perhaps I should rent myself out to drought ridden lands for a small fee.  Perhaps I should find a different way to dry my clothes!

Oh, when I say ‘raining’ then you need to understand that the concept of ‘rain’ here makes England look like drizzle.  This is basically like taking the ocean and making it breathable.  If I go out in this, it will be like taking a bath. Estimated time to total saturation – approximately 0.3msec…

May be a while before I post again… I’m off to an unspoilt tropical island for a couple of days….

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2 Responses to “RakiRaki – Welcome to paradise”

  1. Fratello! November 15, 2010 at 10:41 pm #

    Avoiding another birthday by trekking to a deserted island. Not that old trick.
    3 and a half years – and holding.
    Always be happy big fellah!

  2. Nikki Rose November 15, 2010 at 11:07 pm #

    OMG, Tim – I’m choking with laughter here!

    Am so loving reading about your antics. What beautiful photos – and equally beautiful words to depict the scenery.

    It’s been icy cold here today, but deliciously clear blue skies – all day – and not a drop of rain (by way of a change!) ;o)

    Here’s wishing you a very special and beautiful Birthday tomorrow – or is it today already for you??!
    ******** Many Happy Returns of the Day ************

    Love n hugs to you, Birthday Boy :o)
    Nikki xx

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