Adventures in the Yasawa Islands

Adventures in the Yasawa Islands

Leaving the protections of the inner reef and the lee of the main island, the Yasawa’s are much windier and rugged. The west side has a perpetual westerly swell and the east side the perpetual howling wind—we go up the west side. Impending lack of light forces us to a small albeit rolly anchorage with 25 knots of wind cascading off the adjacent hill. There is a small resort in the bay but we do not go ashore. We head north and take protection in the large bay on the north side of Naviti Island.

This is the home of the Sosomo Village, a primitive home to 250 villagers and a beautiful bay full of reefs. As per custom, we go ashore to pay our respects to the chief. This is a unique case as the chief is a woman so when we land the dinghy we are taken to the “Lady Chief” by her entourage. The elderly lady comes out and sits with regal as we present her with our cava gift and a perfume sample provided by my good friends in Mexico. She accepts the gifts and welcomes us to her village.

This ritual is essential to the culture in the Fiji villages; they own the surrounding water, land, reefs and everything in them. The chief rules with absolute power and must be honored if you are to visit any of the villages. I think it is a great custom and fully participate. Once accepted you are thoroughly welcome by these wonderful people.

We are given a tour and meet the “major” who is the brother of the “Lady Chief” also we meet Pastor Kali of the local Assembly of God Church. He is a well educated fellow and friend of our friend Pastor Napoliani of Savusavu. He invites us to a Fijiian Feast the next night.

We spend the day kayaking, snorkeling and exploring the shoreline. As darkness falls we take the dinghy ashore armed with ukulele and balloon kit to attend the feast. The balloon tying again is a huge hit and kids come out from every direction, bright dark eyes full of excitement. I must have made 50 dogs, rabbits and horses for them and they all loved them. As we have seen before, the kids eagerly share and make sure the smallest ones get the balloons first. Their behavior is amazing and I am moved by the experience.

The feast is a marvel, the food has been cooking underground all day and the ladies bring the many dishes to the grass mats that have been prepared for us to eat on. There is no electricity here and the village is mostly dark but they fire up a small generator and they proudly produce on small electric light. The food is incredible, much better than other local foods we have eaten in the South Pacific. We have tuna wrapped in leaves with coconut milk, a meat stuffed pumpkin, marinated clams, boiled fish, and many other great dishes. I eat till stuffed and we did not make a dent in the food.

After dinner the cava is brought out and so is the guitar. The major and I play music as the cava is passed around. Even young Jess gets his first cava. I couched him before that if he takes it –and it will taste bad—that under no circumstances can he spit it out or show signs of how yuky it is. He slugs the cup back, smiles and asks for more!

Pastor Kali asks if he can come out to the boat and we make arrangements to pick him up the next day. I go to shore and get him and his two sons. They spend some time on Furthur and the Pastor signs the now traveling Bible that Pastor Napoliani gave me. Before departing we receive a kind blessing on the boat.

Again I am blown away by how these simple people in the crudest of conditions live with angelic happiness. The children are curios, inquisitive and bright eyed yet so polite and genuinely content. They share, look out for the younger ones and enjoy it all. The kids are amazingly capable and confident. For the feast I had tied the dink to one of the fishing boats and waded in to shore—when left, Pastor Kali’s 6 year old son retrieved the dink for us, the water was up to his chest and he untied the dink, and towed it ashore in the surf, not an easy thing for an adult but no bit of fuss from him.

We bid the Sosomo people farewell having again been thoroughly enriched by the experience.