Weather Helmed

an adventure in renewing the spirit and living the dream…on a sailboat

Weather Helmed

Fiji Highlight: Hiking on Waya Island & a lesson in boat kid hygiene

October 11th, 2010 · No Comments · Beautiful, Cruising with Friends, Fellow Cruisers, Fiji, Shore Excursions

Our second week in Fiji, first week with our guests, we were finally able to reunite with our cruising friends on IO and Totem.  We hadn’t seen them in far too long, so we made plans to meet them at the southern anchorage on Waya Island, in Yalobi Bay.  Although we haven’t spent as much time with Totem, we were warmly welcomed by their three beautiful tow-headed children.  Of course, these kids regularly meet and bond with new folks within seconds, so I wasn’t too surprised that they opened up to us immediately.  Since there was energy and excitement in being together, we took advantage of that to arrange a guide to take us on a hike up the hills above the village.  We met on the beach early one morning and the guide was quick to gather us up and move us out.  Accompanied by an exuberant friendly little dog, our gang crossed the beach, scrambled up through some rocks and began the slow process of hiking up a steep incline of loose pebbles and scraggly brush.

The Totem kids – N (11), M (8) and S (6) were too busy running after the dog to be bothered much by the climb, but when we all stopped to catch our breath, the two youngest, M & S, eagerly sat down next to me.  I made small talk with them, asking about other hikes they had been on.  M started to describe one of their more memorable hikes in Daniel’s Bay, Nuku Hiva (aka Hakatea Bay).  The hike (really just a long walk through the woods) winds through some banana trees, past a few “ruins” and eventually ends in this cul-de-sac of towering rock walls and a waterfall spilling down into a freshwater pool.  That pool, as M reminded me, is full of freshwater shrimp – large creepy things with long spindly antennae and spidery legs that propel them awkwardly forward and yet strangely fast in reverse. Talking about the shrimp (which I was too afraid to play with, let alone get close to), M casually mentions how they let the shrimp “clean” them.  I had seen pictures of this sort of thing before – shrimp cleaning diver’s teeth, etc – but I had never actually met someone who had experienced it.  “Wait a minute,” I said, “You let them clean you?”  M nods like it’s no big deal; S giggles coquettishly and says, “Yes! There were two big shrimp fighting over who got to clean my toes!”  M looks at her little sister and smiles then turns away with a contemplative look on her young face.  Tilting her head to the side, she says to me in a very mature, matter-of-fact tone, “Yes, but I don’t like to be cleaned by freshwater shrimp.  I prefer to be cleaned by juvenile remoras.”  She then goes on to tell me – in detail – what juvenile remoras look like, how they differ from the adult ones, what you have to do to get them to come clean you (sit down near a reef and be very still), and how it feels when they do it (she pinched my skin gently).

(I know!)

Soon, we got up and continued making our way along the steep mountainside, wandering through dry scrubby trees and finally emerging at the top with an eyeful of beautiful vistas.  Yalobi Village was below us and gorgeous seas all around.

(see Gary climbing the tree?)


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