Ten Thousand Black Needles

360 Panorama of a lagoon in Fiji at Duskpanorama (c) Peter Watts – all rights reserved

I spent 2 weeks on the Fijian islands of Vanua Levu and Viti Levu islands taking 360 panoramas of Fiji. The one shown above comes from a lagoon on the coast of Vanua Levu between Savusavu and Ngigi.

There are many things to say about the time I spent in Fiji in early February. It was the rainy season so there was a lot of, well, rain. Short showers that at times extended into whole days of dripping greyness. So dripping that standing out for about 5 seconds would provide a reasonable shower. Dirt roads turned to mud layered on ooze and deep holes hidden by pools of brown water. Paved roads fared no better, being either washed away in some cases. They are full of potholes that, in some cases, become reasonably sized paddling-pools. I could have titled this ‘Ten Million Raindrops’ and would probably only have underestimated the number that hit me during the time.

There are the roads, whose condition has been alluded to above, that mean travelling 30km in 3 hours is an achievement, which I did one day with members of the Rotary Club of Savusavu to fix a water system at a school in the village of Vunilagi, which is shown in the panoroama below. Yet the local buses continue to plough through where lesser mortals would fear to slide, often the only link between remote villages and the outside world. You know the conditions are bad when the buses stop. This is the point at which the government normally decides something ought to be done and carries out temporary repairs.

360 Panorama of a lagoon in Fiji at Duskpanorama (c) Peter Watts – all rights reserved

Then come the mosquitoes. While Fiji does not have any poisonous insects or reptiles, it simply makes up for this as the numero uno production plant for one of the few creatures I would like to ask God, ‘So what was that about?’ Any statement that they only come out at dusk is, well, simply wrong (maybe because with that much rain cloud it always looks like dusk). They come in the morning, they come in the night.

There are small, fast black fighter mozzies that home in silently and are gone again with a fresh payload before you can blink, leaving small, itchy marks as a departing gift. Then there are larger critters, bomber mozzies with long, curled tail feelers striped black and white. These move more slowly, and are slightly easier to splat, but carry a much higher payload, so squishing them on departure is likely to result in a bright red smear. However, worst of all is the sound, the deathly silence mocking in the darkness. It comes just after the high pitched ‘nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn……’ around your ears and leaves you just knowing that somewhere on your body…another of the ten thousand black needles has been artfully inserted.

The people of Fiji are, in spite of all the difficulties they face, very helpful, friendly and resilient. If it is golden sand round a beach resort you are looking for then head for the Yasawa group of islands and you will find it. But you will miss the genuine Fiji, full of fantastic people, small villages and tonnes of fresh fruit straight off the tree. This is the part of Fiji I really enjoyed, and would go back for. I got some interesting photos, and had interesting times getting them. Lets finish with a classic Fijian scene, a sandy beach, blue skies, palm trees and an island, though in this case the nearest resort was about an hour away.

360 Panorama of a lagoon in Fiji at Duskpanorama (c) Peter Watts – all rights reserved

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