Frutti di Mare
We have spent the last five days exploring Susui, a small village just off the southern coast of Vanua Balavu. The fun began with a traditional sevusevu ceremony—we presented the waka root when we first arrived and were invited to drink kava with them the following evening.
We went ashore around six, and found most of the adult men under a tarp drinking kava, playing the guitar, and singing. There was another yacht there, Viandante, a young couple with two friends visiting. Not only did these four turn out to be kindred spirits, but we soon found out that the Viandante crew hail from Trinity County, where Dominic is from. When not sailing, they live just outside Burnt Ranch. These are some of the least populated areas in California, so to meet these two drinking kava in one of the least populated areas of Fiji felt like a fated traveling wonder.
So with our new best friends from home, and our new best friends from Fiji, Save and Jacob—the son of the chief and the spokesman, respectively, who had been dispatched to show us around—we spent the next few days eating our way around the island.
We spent four hours walking the perfect white sand beach with Save, which was super fun because the beach was gorgeous and he named the plants for us and pointed out turtle tracks. He is the first Fijian who is our age that we really got to get to know. He was as generous in sharing his life stories as he was his island—trading seafood between villages to make a living, a few wild nights, unable to find a wife, excited to be a first time father, soon—all amplified by village gossip and having to move back in with his dad, the chief, after the cyclone destroyed two of the walls of his home four months ago.
We had a quick picnic on the beach, but Save took us to his 'crab bank,' a log about 50 meters up a dry river bed that houses many coconut crabs. So he gathered some, brought them back to the boat, and gave us a lesson in crabbing and feasting.
Subduing the crab:
Cracking the claws:
The next day we picked up Save in the morning to go diving. He and Dominic brought their spear guns and caught parrot fish and grouper for dinner. Then we met up with Viandante, who had spent the morning gathering oysters growing on the mangrove roots with Jacob. We found a beach, lit a fire, feasted on barbecued oysters and celebrated the bounty of the sea.