Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Robinson Crusoe Fire Dancing

Approaching the Coral Coast 

We made a last minute decision to leave Kadavu two days ago and sailed directly for the Coral Coast of Viti Levu. While we regretted leaving the Astrolabe reef a day or two before strictly necessary, we had a very favourable ENE wind and better conditions than we would see for many days. The overnight sail was a primarily downwind with a 1-2 meter swell once we cleared the Astrolabe reef. We were just able to sail on a broad reach for most of the trip, resorting to a poled-out jib, wing and wing, when the wind swung into the east in the early hours.

We arrived around 7 am and stood off to let the sun rise higher to give us some visibility while transiting the pass. However, a river flows into this bay and the waters were impenetrable with brown run-off, so we could see little even around 9 am. We stayed in mid-channel and in water that only shallowed up to under 30 meters as we approached the island.

Chief of ceremonies for the lovo and entertainment.
Bula! We met the leader of welcoming committee for the tourist boats arriving at the resort.

We entered the pass at Likuri Harbour and anchored off Likuri Island and the Robinson Crusoe Resort. We called the resort on the VHF and booked our attendance at the lovo and dancing later that night. The food was very good and plentiful - although predictably heavy on the meat side. 

The evening began with a kava ceremony in which we were invited to partake.
They then opened the lovo (oven exposing coals. A few men walked around on the coals.

The dancing was a combination of Polynesian and Melanesian - with recorded music and dance moves similar to what we had seen in Tahiti and fire dancing that they borrowed from the Samoans (with permission of a Samoan chief). There were few people staying at the resort, but around dusk another 100+ tourists arrived by boat from other resorts on the mainland.

There were a half dozen women dancers and about twice as many men
Some dances told a story - this is a lover's dance put on for honeymooning tourists.
This fellow reminded Rani of the Tahitian dancers we saw last year
The women danced in a more subdued, elegant manner than the men for the most part.
They know that tourists love fire. Here a dancer blows fire from his mouth.
They twirl lit batons 
And form human pyramids. These guys are in great shape!
There was little light, so all these scenes are mainly lit by the whirling torches. Our little point and shoot was barely up to the job.
Great patterns.

The performances were of high quality for the most part with only a few slips by the fire and machete jugglers. Highly recommended if you are in the area.

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