Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Off to The Peak!

Chris, keen to depart on Friday, woke up early to make some fudge we had promised to our young friends who lived near the landing beach. It looked like a sunny day and the wind was not as fierce as the day before, all boding well for our beat southward. However, I was of two minds. The hike up to The Peak, which we had aborted a couple of days earlier due to torrential rain, was calling me.

This one is for John and Janet who collect washing line pics!

Chris returned from the fudge delivery while I was chatting on the radio net and started getting the  the dinghy ready to hoist. He came inside for a few minutes and we discussed the pros and cons of departure again. Something made him look outside while we were chatting and he saw the dinghy drifting away towards the wharf. He had tied the painter to a stanchion using a couple of half hitches but left a short end which came undone as the chop bounced the dinghy around. What to do? What to do? The oars were disassembled and put away already and we could not pull up our anchor quickly enough to motor over to rescue her. So there was only one thing left. He quickly took off his shirt, put on flippers, mask and snorkel and jumped into the water. It did not take him too long to catch up with the runaway and tow her back to Ladybug.

After the rescue, a bucket shower, and a hot tea, I told him it was a "sign" that we were meant to stay another day in Levuka. "We can hike The Peak and visit Maraia for tea!" This time I packed a lunch in case we got distracted en route. Sure enough, just as we landed on the shore, the Fijian National Youth Band was tuning up for a march. They were in Levuka for the Annual Youth Achievements Conference. Chris was reminded of his marching days as a trumpet player in the Canadian bands but they were quite conservative compared to these Fijian players. The band stopped periodically in front of a crowd and put on a hip swaying show that was quite sensual. It was very entertaining but we eventually headed up the hill to the trail head.

Fiji National Youth Band from Suva
These guys have all the right moves!

The start of the trek by the city's water supply was clear enough and we confirmed it with one of the Levukans who lived nearby. After the last house, the trail was supposed to split and we were to take the left turn. We did not see the branching off in the trail so we kept going. Intuition told Chris that we were heading into the wrong valley but it was a nice trail with good views of the town. Eventually we met someone tending to his plantation and he advised us to turn back for the Peak. Chris spotted an overgrown steep grassy path leading up beside a taro patch, so we zig-zagged up, huffing and puffing. Shortly afterwards we reached a slippery rock face with some tenuous handholds and footholds. I tried an alternate route to skirt this scary section but it came to a blind end. There was naught for it but grit one's teeth and carry on. Then we saw a definite trail through the forest and felt more confident in our decision.

Chris enjoying the view from the top of the Peak

It was really worth it when we came out on top. There was a panorama of peaks and valleys, the town of Levuka at our feet and the offshore islands beckoning us from a distance. The drop off was dizzyingly steep. It would be a quick death a hundred feet below if one fell from the edge.

Panorama from the hillside above Levuka, showing the peak we climbed.
Pandanus in bloom
When we returned from the trek, a man called us over to drink some water from a continuously running tap beside his house." It is good spring water!" We did not need to be asked twice. I cupped my hands and greedily swallowed enough to fill my belly while Chris fished for a bottle to fill.

Then we enjoyed a very pleasant visit with Maraia, whom we had met a few days earlier. Her husband, Eminoni, was a soldier in the Fijian army when the coup took place in 1987. He guarded the wharf and met the yachties when they arrived in Ovalau. One of the people he befriended was John Neal on s/v Mahina Tiare, whom we had recently  met at Makogai. Small world, eh? Eminoni went on to serve in the Gulf War as part of the U.N. Peace Keeping Forces and passed away a few months ago.

We continued on to explore the other side of the river from Maraia and discovered more trails weaving up the hillside towards the next valley north of town center. If only we could stay another day..

Tea with Maraia

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