-10 days and it is still raining. Huge drops hard to miss even if in a hurry. The Cat has finally brought a rainbow umbrella with bent plastic handle- lost eventually
-24 hour drinkers squat in the bushes by the sea wall. They shout “Welcome to Fiji ! This is the hottest tourist spot in town !”.Wade through a quagmire of rubbish. Soft plastic mulch clings, like left out clothes on a broken line, to branches dropping to the water.
-100 balloons line two marquee tents with no sides. A religious service of some kind in a parking lot with uniformed lines of people. Two men dressed identically in black and white oppose them talking on loud hailers.
-1 yacht is filled to the brim with bibles we are told. The captain is nowhere to be seen.
-2 sailors on a boat nearly hit a dead pig floating in the muddy, diesel filled waters.
-51 Shipwrecks lie under the water or with rusty bits sticking up. Some have been transformed into islands with lush vegetation growing from holds making homes for the many herons. I startle them when paddling past.
-16 black and white stripes coil around the outboard. Seen from afar the Owl and Cat are yelping squeeling and jumping up and down. There is a third animal, a stowaway, in the dingy. A beady yellow eyed sea snake.
-82 window panes, rooms from a Novotel hotel across the water, are glazed in an endless film of water. Guests shift on white sheets, lie face down with heads in computers or stand staring out, hoping. The sea has transformed, turned to a pink terracotta.
-15 bouts of episodic cabin fever have consumed us so far.
-12 red and 6 orange lights create a glow from the ship named ‘Uttermost Witness’. A missionary ship lit up like the Devil’s own. There are figures, silhouettes, lurking inside. An angel is propped up against a cabin window and it’s naively painted wooden features speak of imprisonment .
-7 shack houses made of corrugated iron, bits of odd timber and tarpaulin almost slip into the river. What happens with a flood?
-8 men wearing white shirts and purple ties wave at us ecstatically from one of the shack’s windows. Suva Sunday.
-100,086,143 hairs are spiralled together in a giant Afro belonging to a Fijian named Ian. He tells of life as a law student in Suva-steeling his tutor’s wig and cape and taking it on a night crawl. Wanting to open a bar, but not the legal type. When hurricane Winston arrived he and his Aunty surfed their house to another and unwanted location. The coming election he said “will be rigged”.
-92 British flags are strung up for the coming Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Walls are painted in last minute brights by rushed painters. Pavements are water blasted clogging the drains.
-16 paper crowns are seen on smartly dressed Fijian ladies heads. Someone shouts “The King is coming !” And waves a paper flag. The royal lot are rushed out of the market as the crowd heaves.
-3 sprays of fireworks light up the night sky and a voice singing opera comes at us joyfully, melodramatically across the water from a leaky tall ship. We pass a nightclub called ‘Wrecktangles’ and pacific music booms from within. The Cat thinks of shipwrecks, the Owl thinks of the shapes he could cut on the ‘D’ floor.
-26 announcements with a ‘bing bong’ intro, the sound of a supermarket intercom, are heard from the docks. Cargo ships, ferries push with bursting metal girths onto each other, loud sighs from lines. Cleaning team to isle 8. Ships of all sizes cross the horizon like theatre scenery flats.
– 5 prongs from a cannibal fork lie inside a dusty glass case. The fork had been used to eat the flesh of Mr Baker. We are glad we are not Mr Baker.
– 14 live crabs are tied in bundles on sticks at the ladies feet. The air is not air but a rancid smell of rotting fish, old rubbish and something unmentionable or questionable. Breathing for a while is attempted only through the mouth.
-117kg bundles of Cocaine are discovered buried in the ground on an isolated island in the Lau group. They are rapped in plastic, one with the Cartel sign of the bull the other other with a Nike ‘just do it’ sign. A villager used the rubber in casing the packages to fix his flip flop (jandel). The Navy entered the bay wearing all black-bullet proof vests, helmets and carrying guns. The villagers in fright ran down to the shore and threw the packages at them.
-78 steps on an escalator disappear into a gap at the top of the stairs. Fijian Indians sell gold jewellery from stands in the mall. Fijians sell coconut oil and flower pieces for behind the ear. The Vodafone shop is full with prospectors mooching under the strip lights, the walkways are full with families carrying microwaves in boxes and burdened with shopping bags and tugging children.
-11 different hoses, one used only by and purchased normally by a biscuit baker in Suva, are joined together by the Owl to update the exhaust system. The engine finally is working well..and all in the nick of time.
-22,500,498,265,000,567 drops of rain have filled the water tanks and it is refreshing to drink the untainted.
-And a partridge in a pair tree.
The Owl and Cat currently lie at anchor away from the big polluted city off a tiny picnic island, for the city goers, and wait for the morning when they hope to depart for New Zealand. The forecast looks interesting with a fast run south but some areas appear highlighted in red towards the end. A potential for big swells and winds on the nose. They will talk to some fellow sailors in the morning as it is good, they think, to discuss plans with others..although the final decision is with them. For now, one last night on a flat bunk, one last look at dappled palm shadows on a near shore and a gentle breeze to float in the hatches and only to be found in the tropics. The full moon light is silvery and they dream of dances and the adventure ahead.