Bula means “Cheers!”, “Hello!” Literally, it means “life” according to the Lonely Planet guide. It’s the greeting, offered with a big smile, you’ll receive and give whenever you meet someone, or just pass them by along the roadside, here in Fiji. It’s among the first Fijian words we heard on arrival, and the first one we learned.We are on a mooring in Savusavu, Vanua Levu. Savusavu, on the windward side of Vanua Levu, is the second-largest community on Fiji’s second-largest island.The mooring we’re on is owned by The Copra Shed, one of the town’s landmarks. Built in the 19th century for processing copra and located right on Savusavu Bay, The Copra Shed has been renovated and now houses the Savusavu Yacht Club along with restaurants, a ‘yacht club’ bar, a small chandlery, offices for Fiji Airways and a tour agency, as well as a couple of rental rooms. An adjacent building houses laundry, showers (solar heated!), and restrooms for visiting yachts. It’s quite comfortable. Copra Shed is on the main street of Savusavu, at one end of a park. Across the street are most of the town’s businesses, including numerous grocery stores, dry goods stores, hardware stores, restaurants, and the government offices for clearing in, all within walking distance of the marina.
The Copra Shed
Looking toward Savusavu main road, from Velic. A number of resident aliens have built homes on the surrounding hills, overlooking Savusavu Bay.
Another shot looking at Savusavu from Velic. Note the bright red Digicel kiosk.
The tide is out. This is the fuel dock owned by The Copra Shed, although there is no fuel on it, and the local tour and dive boats use it more than anyone else. You can’t really see it in this photo, but at low tide the hot springs vent steam through the mud.
A shot across the mooring field. Lots of boats, most of them transient yachts like us. But there are a few that haven’t moved in years, and show it.
Next to the Savusavu Yacht Club is the youth sailing association’s center. Mostly Optimus prams, but at least three Lasers sailing as well. We enjoy watching the kids practice…
Capsize and retrieval practice: Notice the kid in the water.
Another shot across the bay, this one taken from the commercial wharf …
Randy on the commercial wharf. The inter-island cargo and passenger ship docks here twice each week.
The power plant with diesel generators running full tilt. Geologists have estimated that all of Vanua Levu could be powered by geothermal energy from the hot springs, if the infrastructure were built to capture it.
While you can buy frozen meat in the grocery stores, the small meat markets have the largest selection and most variety. Ruth is holding a package of frozen lamb sausages, which went into a spaghetti dinner that night.
Out for a row one sunny morning. We rowed up to near the head of the bay, at the end of the mooring field. Lots of bommies, or coral heads, that rise abruptly from the bottom to the surface. We actually scraped over one in the dinghy, but no harm done.
We get off the boat every day. On most days, we’ll visit the farmers’ market, maybe a grocery store, and stop for lunch at one of the small, local restaurants. In the almost two weeks we’ve been in Savusavu, we have tried nearly all of the small restaurants in town. While alcohol (beer, wine, distilled) is the most expensive we’ve seen since French Polynesia, eating out is very inexpensive and good. Every small restaurant offers basically the same menu – a selection of Indian, Chinese, and a very few western-style plates. Curries come with fresh, hot roti, an Indian flat bread. Chinese dishes come with either rice or noodles. We couldn’t make lunch on board for much less than an ample lunch at any of the local restaurants.
Last week, we took a bus from Savusavu across the island to Labasa (say “Lambasa,” often there is an ‘n’ or ‘m’ pronounced but not printed before certain consonants – the opposite of some romance languages that print silent letters). Vanua Levu is mountainous, like most Fijian islands, and Labasa is on the northwest coast. There’s a rugged range running down its backbone, dividing the windward (wet) and leeward (dry) sides of the island. On the dry side, Labasa is surrounded by broad plains and is known for sugar cane production. The bus ride itself was the purpose of our excursion; we wanted to see some of the inland countryside as well as get a look at the other main town on Vanua Levu. Early Wednesday morning we walked to the Savusavu bus terminal – a large gravel parking lot next to the farmers’ market – and boarded our bus for the two-and-a-half hour ride. The paved two-lane highway took us around the top of Savusavu Bay before turning inland and beginning the steep climb that would take us over the mountains, stopping at villages along the way for people or packages to get on or off. The road is well-maintained and marked, but narrow. This makes for a sometimes exciting ride.
One of the bus shelters along the highway crossing to Labasa. This was a new one, recently built with funds from a Canadian Rotary Club chapter.
Looking out the bus window at passing sugar cane fields.
One of the local mosques. Fijians are predominately Christian, but there are sizable populations who practice the Hindu and Islamic faiths as well, mainly people whose ancestors came from the Indian subcontinent to work on the sugar plantations.
Boarding and de-boarding the bus. Our bus was a newer model and had glazed windows.
The bus station in Labasa.
Waiting at the bus terminal. Our bus is named “Red Storm” on the windscreen.
Main Street, Labasa
Many small shops line main street in downtown Labasa.
A modern well-stocked store offering consumer electrical and electronic items on the main street.
A delightful woman with literature to share.
Fancy telephone booths outside the post office now made obsolete by ubiquitous cell phones.
A Massey-Ferguson tractor pulls a load of sugar cane through downtown to the commercial port.
Toyota truck delivering sugar cane.
A Ford tractor pulls a load of sugar cane. It became quite the parade.
A well-stocked hardware store
This fellow ran a dry goods store we stopped in. He is repairing a cookstove burner.
Big pots available to prepare for your feast.
For cutting sugar cane.
Note the brand name on his left sleeve. They sold Oregon-brand chain saws.
Oregon brand chain saw bars.
A few scenes from Savusavu:
The inter-island ferry.
Fisherman on his bamboo raft.
Savusavu city park LED lights, powered by wind and sun.
Waiting for the bus in the city park. Velic is in the background. Taro (Dal0) root is in bundles.
Voter registration, Fiji-style, strategically placed next to the market.