Monday, October 6, 2014

A Saturday in Lautoka

Well, we are back at Vuda Marina with the fickle generator! You know when you have spent too much time in a marina when the staff says: Welcome home! Fortunately, it does feel like home and we love the staff here! They're the best we have seen in all of our stops.

We decided to spend a day with the locals in the town of Lautoka. Of course, Saturday is the busiest day to go there so we were in the heart of it all. Our mission was not to provision, but rather to soak in the atmosphere of the city, the market, the shops, the people and the food. And we were not disappointed!

The portions look small, but it very filling - and HOT!

We met a couple from Singapore at the marina and rode with them, sharing what we had learned about Fiji over the past ten weeks. Then we took them to a good shop where you can purchase reasonably priced sulas. Dennis bought a traditional man's sula in black and I bought some of the colorful ladies' style for gifts. Since we gave away thousands of dollars worth of "stuff" when we sold our house, I have been very good about not replacing it with more "stuff" from this trip. We have only purchased a couple of souvenirs. And I refuse to buy stuff for the grandchildren as my mother always returned from afar with stuff that had no meaning to the kids! Her intentions were good. But now someone else is enjoying those "treasures."

Keith (R) is the bartender at the favorite hangout: Boatshed Bar
We spent the day wandering around the city, in and out of shops and people-watching. Dennis decided that I needed some "fun" clothes since I am always in shorts and tee shirts. So we shopped for them and he picked out a couple of things that I should wear. Okay, but how do I climb on and off a boat in them? He found a couple of what are known as "bula" shirts for him. NO, they are not wild tropical prints. The culture is much more conservative in Fiji! He was encouraging me to purchase an outfit in one of the Indian clothing stores where the fabrics were beautiful and sparkling. It could be a fun dress to wear to something special, but I just don't see it on the calendar in the near future. AND I am not sure I could get myself properly into it and wrapped in the beautiful Sari fabric.

Catherine, Keith, Linda, Mike and Dennis
Needing a place to rest and eat, we found a vegetarian Indian restaurant. Of course, the special of the day is always worth a try - especially when you see all of the natives eating it. We like to find places where the locals eat rather than tourist ones. I asked the gentleman behind the counter if the food was real spicy. "No, no it is mild", he said. NOT! Maybe mild to his palate, but my mouth and lips were on fire! But is was really good so I kept eating and drinking lots of water. A cold beer would have been of great value right then! I now understand why the Indians drink beer with their food.

Vuda Point Marina market
Before heading back to the marina, we made a brief stop at the supermarket and the market to get a few items for the week. I can't resist the pawpaw (small papayas) that are four for two dollars Fijian. They are so sweet! We eat one a day. And the same with the small pineapples that are three for two dollars Fijian! Apples and oranges cost two to three times more than these. Remember: a Fijian dollar is like 60 cents USD!

Many homemade goodies here. A lot of gluten-free treats, too!

Marina Manager Adam and his wife make
coconut oil and coconut products for sale.
Being very tired, it was time for dinner out with some new friends and "neighbors" in the marina. Catherine and Mike from UK and France are next to us. We joined them with Keith and Linda for sundowners at the Boatshed Bar. These couples have been cruising for seven and 20+ years, respectively. It is easy to see how and why cruisers just keep cruising! We will probably meet up with Mike and Catherine in New Caledonia before we go our separate ways to New Zealand and Australia.

We had a group of 14 or more
for Merc's birthday dinner at
First Landing Resort!
One evening it was sundowners on Mike and Catherine's boat, S/V Falabalac, where the conversation was in multiple languages with the common language being French. Except for Catherine, others struggled with grammar and tenses, but were able to keep a conversation going for hours. Their guests were from Italy, UK and South Africa and all but the Italian spoke English with some form of accent. It was most interesting to hear it all. That is what we love about cruising: the people we meet from all over the world!

The Italians serenaded Merc and entertain all of us!
That is Sandra and Tom from S/V Sweet Pearl
(Switzerland) looking on. Such a fun night with
special people celebrating with our special friend!
Vuda Marina offers many activities: Monday night moonlight movies on the lawn, Tuesday night half-price pizza night, Thirsty Thursday Happy Hour, live music on Friday (Reggae) and Sunday (Jazz) evenings. There is a Makers and Growers Market every second Saturday of the month, as well as cooking and cocktail classes upon request. So being here is not a bad thing! One of the best perks is that you can clear in and out of Fiji here, which is much easier than sailing over to Lautoka or Suva or SuvaSuva.

And we love the music performed by Emily and the guys!
Earlier in the year, we could access the First Landing Resort next door where we often ate, drank and swam in the pool. We were told we could swim there for $5 or buy a meal. Recently upon returning to the marina, we found the gate between the two properties has been locked. There are two stories: 1) the resort didn't like their guests coming to the marina restaurants for less expensive meals and 2) they no longer wanted us using the pool. It seems they could work out something like Musket Cove Marina where you buy a membership that allows you to use the facilities of the resort. Trust me, they are losing out on a lot of money since we had several big dinner groups over there plus our individual lunches, dinners and happy hours. Sometimes I just don't understand the lack of entrepreneurial thinking in most of these countries. Maybe that is why they are so laid back and relaxed and we are not in the USA!

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