Di on Toucan arranged a car and driver for us and Full Circle to spend a day touring the island of Vanua Levu. It’s a big island, about 100 miles long and 25 miles wide, so our “tour” amounted to driving over the central mountains to the large town of Labasa on the northern shore with only a few stops. But they were good ones.
Our first stop, after a very long drive (we cruisers aren’t used to sitting still for that long!) was the Naag Mandir Temple, which houses the sacred cobra rock. The Rock is said to cure sickness, and Hindus from all over the world visit to pray and place offerings of fruit, flowers and milk at its base. They say the rock is growing, and they’ve had to raise the roof four times since the 1950s to accommodate the growth. The priest kindly allowed us to stand in the corner while he guided a family in their ritual and offered prayers for them.
Labasa is a large town and we only had time to explore the huge market. After cyclone Winston there isn’t much fruit available but look at this gorgeous abundance of vegetables. We will not starve in Fiji. I can’t imagine anyone could.
Our driver wanted us to visit a waterfall, but every bit of land in Fiji is owned by someone, and that means we must ask permission from the owner in the traditional Fijian way, by presenting kava, or yagona, to the village chief and formally making our request. We six were led to an open shelter where we sat on a bench. The chief was summoned and David of Full Circle presented our bundle of kava. The chief spoke a welcome and a blessing, the women who hosted us clapped twice, then three times, and we were told we’d been given permission to walk through the village, and to hike to the waterfall.
The village was lovely, tidy and well-cared-for. We were allowed to walk around and take photos, and everyone we asked happily posed for us.