Little Bay, Vanua Balavu, Lau, Fiji
To stay in Little Bay, the Cruising Guide said we needed to do sevusevu at Maravu village, a little further along the coast. We dinghied around the corner to a lovely beach fronting a copra plantation, and walked 30 minutes through scrubby bush along the coast, through plantations of bananas and cassava to Maravu.
The village is the home of former Fijian Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, who was ousted by Commodore Bainimarama in the 2006 coup (and was subsequently convicted of corruption).
The ex-PM wasn’t home, but we met Joe, who was born in the village and who currently resides in Suva. He’s back ‘on business’: looking to set up a trading business with the island, though it seemed to be proving rather more challenging than he’d anticipated. At first, he’d sought sea cucumbers, but the villagers were reluctant to harvest them in the recent bad weather, so he’d turned his attention to copra.
Joe took us to the village headman and we handed over our yangona (kava) and were duly welcomed. Joe showed us around the immaculately neat village: there are still a few traditional thatch houses, oval shaped with high pitched roofs. The modern version is made of corrugated iron, including the roof. Most have a small solar panel for lights.
We hitched a ride into Lomaloma (the main town of Vanua Balavu) in the village truck. There was nothing much happening and not much to see: the only person that spoke to us was the postmaster who was from Suva and was relishing being ‘on holiday’ in this remote posting. He was happy to have someone – anyone – to talk to.
On the way home, we stopped at Joe’s uncle’s farm and I helped him harvest big basin-fulls of eggplant, bok choy and coriander, in anticipation of heading into the wilds of the Southern Lau Group, where we don’t expect to be able to source any provisions at all.
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