Lautoka is Fiji’s second largest city and we were up for a little city time after weeks of remote anchorages and dwindling supplies. The thing is, despite it being the main shipping port for the country’s sugar, Lautoka is not particularly yacht friendly. We scanned the waterfront with binoculars from the deck of Escape Velocity but couldn’t find an obvious place to land a dinghy and ended up stopping at a nearby yacht on our way ashore to ask where to go. We were directed to a corner of the commercial port where the pilot boat docks and tied the dinghy to the rusty railing of a set of crumbling concrete steps rising out of the dirty, oily water. We were warned to toss out an anchor to keep the dinghy from being swept under a bridge when ships cause a surge in the harbor. Not a good start to our first urban adventure in a while.
We walked through the gates of the port, past a phalanx of security guards and down a long dusty road lined with sugar cane trucks for about a mile to the city. We needed food, of course, but we were also looking for a camera. Ours has gradually been molting little trim bits leaving the surfaces you grip when shooting gummy with glue residue. Taking photos now requires a complicated tangle of digital dexterity to avoid getting slimed with unremovable sticky goo.
We asked a couple of young men for directions to the market and they offered to walk us there. Along the way we passed a row of electronics shops that we could check for a camera later.
The market was huge and dark inside but every vendor seemed to have the same variety of vegetables and no fruit except for expensive imported apples. We eventually found a small bunch of bananas that we paid a premium for but because of the cyclone there’s been so little fruit anywhere we’re happy to find anything at all.
Inevitably Jack was drawn to the Golden Arches, the first we’ve seen since Tahiti. The prices weren’t as bad as we’d expected and we soon found out why. The items were smaller than stateside, presumably to keep the price down, but given the American penchant for super sizing, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. I had a veggie wrap that at first seemed tiny but actually was just right.
We ducked into a supermarket for cereal and flour and couldn’t help but note how different the shelves look as we make our way across the pacific.
On our way back to the boat we stopped into a couple of electronics stores but only one had any cameras and none were in the price and quality range we are looking for. I guess we’ll just have to make do with gooey fingers every time we take a picture.
With rain threatening again and facing a long walk back to the dinghy we abandoned our hope for a cold beer and a good meal ashore and made our way back to Escape Velocity to hunker down for the next few days of bad weather. At least we have some bananas.