Well, yet another phenomenal trip concluded July 2nd with new friends made by all, old friends reacquainted, and surf muscles toned and back in shape. The weather was phenomenal, the surf pumping, and the trades blowing to sculpt some perfect waves at Cloudbreak and Restaurants throughout the week. The staff was great, and the visits to the village schools and health clinics went very well, ensuring good wishes for our return next year. I’ve included below several day summaries that were put together between sessions of surf, relaxation, and talks- they really catch the feel of the trip. Thanks to all for their enthusiastic participation- can’t wait to go back next year!
Kiora. A big Bula to the surf and weather gods! Today was truly gorgeous. Light trades and a fun swell. Cloudbreak was 4-5′ and playful( for Cloudbreak). The Tavi crew had it to themselves for the first 90 minutes before the hordes started descending (including Carissa Moore-it goes without saying that she was ripping, although I’d have to say Matt gave her a good run or her money). Restaurants was waist to head high on the sets and very inviting. Looks promising for the rest of the week- perhaps too promising…
PS -Commiserations to Enrique whose brand new stick was brutally assasinated by unknown assailants between Puerto Rico and Nandi.
On Wednesday a small group went into Momi Village after an opportunity for an early morning surf. We took the boatride across to the main island and then up the river through the mangroves. It was a fun high tide ride, dodging branches and barely making it under the sugarcane train bridge. Visiting Momi is always tricky and quite tide dependent. The tide must be high enough to get over a sandbar at the mouth of the river but low enough to get under the cane bridge. We walked into the village and over to the community center where things seemed a little disorganized. We were welcomed without the traditional serving of kava, and we offered our gifts of kava, clothing, sunglasses, etc. After offering the kava I began to hear the unique sound of kava being pounded, and a little later kava was prepared and offered to us. This was the first time that our welcoming ceremony has been done without the serving of kava. My thought was that the village must have had no kava, and I later learned that the price of kava is very high right now so this is a distinct possibility. We began our clinic in the community center while a group went over to Momi Village School where they saw the fans which we purchased and had installed, and where some anti-smoking pamphlets were handed out. The clinic was very successful with many villagers being seen. Both Hypertension and Diabetes are huge problems in Fiji. We took a lot of blood pressures, and the highs were referred to the regional nurse, Elenoa, who met us in the village. Elenoa follows up on these highs, making sure that those previously undiagnosed begin treatment and making sure that those previously diagnosed are regularly taking their meds. A few home visits were made, and reading glasses were given out (always popular!). I spent my time going around passing out flyers and talking to small groups of men, women, elders, teenagers, about the dangers of smoking and especially the dangers of second hand smoke to the children living around smokers. We put up some large anti-smoking posters in the community center and in the village clinic and gave some to the regional nurse to put up in her clinic and to hand out wherever she sees a need. After clinic we were offered juice, curry rotis, and cookies. We left Momi before the tide was too low so were able to go back down the river. This was great because when the tide gets too low we have to, instead, climb in the back of a big truck to be transported to the edge of a big mudflat through which we have to walk to our waiting boats, the mud trying very hard to keep hold of our shoes the whole way!
The surf on Tavarua was huge on Tuesday and really big on Wednesday. It continued to drop on Thursday allowing most guests to venture happily out to Cloudbreak prior to the Nabila Village visit on Thursday.
Four boats with 44 people including 14 kids left Tavarua at about 10:30 AM. We made it to the village in under 30 minutes and the crossing was wet an very windy but our boat driver was great . The village was ready for us and very appreciative. We had a great Kava ceremony and then our gifts were given. Following that the doctors began seeing villagers. Blood pressures were taken, eye glasses were given, and a variety of other small problems were delt with. Of course, the village pharmacy was restocked.
While that was going on, a large group of kids and adults made the 20 minute walk to Nabila Public School. We had been in contact with the school so they were expecting us and were very happy when we trickled in. This was National Drug Awareness Week in Fiji so our timing was perfect. After lots of hugging, hand shaking and smiles we began our first presentation for the school. Mark gave a great anti-smoking talk and left the school with a great anti-smoking poster made by Enrique’s wife. Megan followed with a great talk on teeth brushing. After that each of the kids were given a tooth brush. The kids were very excited to get their new tooth brushes. The talks ended with a personal hygiene talk by Todd.
After the talks, the kids were all ready to play with each other. First the rugby balls and net balls brought by the Derwents needed to blown up. The kids and adults played happily for the next hour. Meanwhile Maja was in the library with one of the teachers installing the toner cartridges that she brought for their printers. On worked perfectly right away and the other will take a little more work by their IT person. At about 1:30 we all walked back. It was an amazing visit for all.
That night long after our return to Tavarua we had our wonderful welcoming kava ceremony followed by a Fijian feast. The night ended with the Tavarua Staff Meke. It couldn’t have been more fun. The staff and guests danced together seamlessly. I can’t imagine a better day anywhere in the world.