Today we took a full day boat tour to Tivua Island, a little piece of palm tree covered paradise about 300 yards in diameter. It took ninety minutes to sail there and the crew entertained us with local music along the way. A kava ceremony was conducted. It sounds like every tour you take here includes Kava. What the formal tea ritual is to the Chinese and Japanese, the ceremony of drinking kava is to the people of Fiji. Enjoyed on both important and social occasions, including when accepting guests or visitors into a village, kava is traditionally accompanied by a ceremonial atmosphere.
Kava is a mildly narcotic drink made from mixing the powdered root of the pepper plant with water and results in a numb feeling around the mouth and a sense of relaxation. For many Fijians, kava is a link to their ancestral past and is the nation's traditional and national drink. The drink itself is thought to have medicinal qualities. We've read that tourists often overindulge and end up numb and not quite in touch with reality for hours. Since we were planning on snorkeling, we did not partake. Other opportunities lie ahead.
Once we arrived the little island offered many things to do. Certified divers could rent tanks and head out; a short resort course was available for those who wanted to learn. You could get a massage. Glass bottom boat tours, paddle boards, and kayaks were also available. But we wanted to snorkel. The water is incredibly warm and we could have stayed in for hours. Bright blue star fish were perched on pieces of coral and we got one to hold. Nurse sharks patrolled the shallows near the shore. It is a thrill to swim through the water and be surrounded by 360º of fish. However, Ken the photographer was somewhat frustrated, because the water was not crystal clear. We saw vibrant looking coral surrounded by dead bits and pieces. It was hard for us to judge how healthy the ocean is here, because we had nothing to compare it to.
As we snorkeled, it began to rain. That didn't bother us while we were in the water, but it became an increasing problem as the day went on because the rain did not stop. We were supposed to go on a nature walk. Instead, the guide brought pieces of coconut trees in the shelter and talked about how Fijians use every bit of the plant. They chew the roots when they have a tooth ache. The wood from the trunk has obvious uses for building homes and boats. The fibrous husk around the nut can be formed into rope of used like a brillo pad. The leaves are woven to make roofs and containers. The island had numerous shelters where you could sit and watch the sea, but those coconut leaves did not keep out the rain and we got wetter and wetter. It could have been much more uncomfortable if it weren't so warm here. Our fellow passengers were remarkably cheery on the sail back. Not only were we soaked; the rain prevented us from seeing the islands we sailed past. There's nothing you can do about the weather except hope that it's better tomorrow.