Fiji Jim's Blog - Part 3

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Morning View, Natewa Bay from Lomalagi Resort, Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)

An Average Day in Paradise
 

(Vanua Levu, Fiji)
 

Tuesday August 22, 2001
 
8:00 AM - Our resort provides both 110V and 220V power, which is a luxury for us Americans.  We can use all of our personal care appliances without employing a voltage converter.  The smell of fresh coffee finally awoke Cagey for the day and we simply sat, watched and listened from our lanai.
 
8:30 AM - Takasa, our shy and pretty server came up our walk and rang the bell along our walkway.  Since we had the resort all to ourselves and the place practically defines privacy, members of the staff always ring the bell so that one can toss on a lightweight robe in time to avoid embarrassment.  In any event, Takasa had fresh cut fruit, home made bread and muffins, orange juice, butter and preserves for us.  Could it possibly be better than this?  Our bay and our breakfast were all we needed.  We fed a few pieces of papaya to the Myna Birds, in hopes of bribing them into being quiet the next morning, to no avail. Myna Bird, eating papaya on the lanai, Lomalagi Resort, Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)
 
10:15 AM - Terry drove us the couple hundred yards from the resort office, down the steep hill to the little dock they had built at the end of the resort's property.  There he helped us into our Alaskan-made, two-person sea kayak, which has an aluminum frame and a waterproof fabric skin to keep us dry.  It seats two and has steering pedals that act like those on a small airplane.  The only trouble is that the kayak will not move unless you paddle it.  We never did master the art of paddling in unison, but somehow we moved along the beach and around our end of Natewa Bay.
 
At last, we rounded the point of land leading to Takasa's house, and here is what we saw.  Because of tidal action, sandy beaches are in short supply in Natewa Bay.  A twenty-foot wide beach is a major one, with many places having just a rocky shore and no beach at all.  Takasa lives with her father and her young son on a sandy beach about as long as Waikiki Beach, in Hawaii.  Hers is the only house on that beach.  When I read that statement, I still have to let its reality sink in to my consciousness.
 
Tropical fish and coral make a colorful display in the upper reaches of Natewa Bay, Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands - Click for larger image  (http://jamesmcgillis.com)On our return trip, we paddled out about half a mile, from time to time viewing unspoiled tropical reefs below us.  Then we turned for home.  As we glided back in, we encountered one of about six I-beams that were standing vertically at the edge of the final shallows.  Apparently they were placed there to alert any sailor who might come along that they were about to hit the rocks.  Terry said that he thought they were driven-in forty or fifty years ago, but by whom he did not know.  There they stand, rusting at their bases, the only manmade items visible on Natewa Bay.
 
12:15 PM - We returned to the dock just as the tide began to fill our end of the bay.  Terry had contracted for a small power shovel to be brought to the dock area so that Lomalagi Resort's tiny channel could be dredged to a depth that his Sea-Doo jet boat (more on that later) could be launched or retrieved, even at low tide.  The remnants of the old coral reef were piled to the sides, leaving small towers of gray, rock-like matter that reminded me of the tufa towers of Mono Lake, California, Dredging of Old Coral for a boat channel, Natewa Bay, Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)located on the east side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  We rode back to the resort in an ancient work truck, which was loaded with coral sand, used to fill in the potholes of the roads within the resort.
 
1:15 PM - Upon our return, we were treated to a lunch of shrimp and lobster, with ice cream for dessert.  Our guests that day were three Aussies who were buying property nearby.  It seems that all the Europeans who visit our end of Vanua Levu call ahead and the Lomalagi dining room transforms into a restaurant.  The moneyman of the three said he was building a house somewhere down past Takasa's beach.  He had brought all his "toys", including a sport fishing boat.  Looking back, more than six years later, I wonder if he was the vanguard of the group who plan to develop a large resort nearby, creating artificial islands in the once-pristine Natewa Bay.
 
2:15 PM - We wandered down to the office and shopped a bit in Collin's boutique.  Having misplaced the map I had bought in Savusavu, I purchased a large new one for $10 F.  While we were there, Collin called on our behalf to the Cousteau Resort, located at the other end of the island, to arrange for our scuba diving the next day.  I spoke with one of their dive masters, explaining that we were scuba-certified and that we really would show up the next day, if the boat would be there to meet us.
 
Coconut palms dot the landscape at Lomalagi Resort, Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)2:30 PM - We decided to walk around the grounds and see some of the sights.  The property comprises twenty-five acres, but we restricted ourselves to the area near our bure, which has hills, coconut trees, flowers and an incredible green lawn, which covers the entire landscape.
 
The previous day, when we pulled our Suzuki Jimny up under the huge tree at the center of the property the day before, we saw a powerful, lean man pushing a large power mower across a huge stretch of the lawn.  Keep in mind that half of this lawn is on what looks like a 30-degree slope.  I shouted out, "Bula" to him because I had acculturated to say that to everyone we met.  He stopped the mower and approached us.  Removing his gloves, he offered his hand and said, "Hello, I'm Spence", in a New Zealand accent.  He appeared to be a blond haired rock-of-a-man, tall and muscular, with perhaps a bit of Maori ancestry. 
 
Photograph or artwork? The Myth of Sisyphus, who some call "The Original Rolling Stone" makes the task of rolling a boulder up a 45-degree slope look almost easy - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)As the days went by, we would hear Spence and his mower from time to time.  Actually, the gas engine propelled it, but even with that assist, I am sure I could not have pushed it up and down those steep hills for very long.  I recalled the Greek myth of Sisyphus.  You know the one, with Sisyphus destined to roll a huge rock up a hill.  As soon as he reached the top, the rock would get away from him and roll back to the bottom, where he would have to start the process all over again.  I always assumed that it was one of the Greek Tragedies (which technically it may be).  More recently, I heard the story Examined in a different way.  This version was about the simplicity and beauty of Sisyphus' life.  In this version, he knew his task and he performed it well.  He made it a noble gesture to use all his strength to propel the rock up the hill, where inevitably it rolled back to the bottom.  Then, he reset his sites on his goal and started again.  Spence and his mower embodied that ethic.  He appeared to have a purpose in life and he stuck to it.
 
A small waterfall, Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)3:00 PM - We were back at the room, content to relax for the balance of the afternoon.
 
5:30 PM - It turned cloudy.  The Mynas returned to the deck.  It was time to shower in that fabulous Fiji-water and get ready for dinner.
 
7:00 PM - Dinner was Indian Curry, light and tasty.
 
9:00 PM - We were back in the room, preparing our dive gear and cameras for the next day.
 
This is Chapter Seven of ten chapters. To view the previous article in this series, click HERE.  To view the following article in this series, click HERE.

 


Morning Light on Natewa Bay, Vanua Levu, Fiji in August 2001 - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)

Taking a Dive - Fiji Style
 

Wednesday, August 23, 2001
 
7:00 AM - Brrriing.  Is that the sound of the alarm clock?  No, because we did not pack one.  It is our friendly myna birds squawking away outside.  When the windows are open all night and it is quiet, the contrast of morning in Fiji will wake you up in a hurry.
 
7:15 AM - Our usual breakfast of fresh fruit, orange juice and baked goods arrives, just as the coffee pot finishes brewing.  Weather normal - beautiful.  They did not tear down our movie set overnight and cart it away to the prop shop.  The palm trees are all in their proper places and Natewa Bay forms its usual serene backdrop.  Only today, we are in a hurry.
 
8:15 AM - We drag our dive gear down the wooden walkway to the ever-faithful Suzuki Jimny.  We rattle away down the local road, only to find that the construction crew had added some fresh fill-dirt in certain places.  The only problem is that the "dirt" that was used has rocks the size of grapefruits strewn throughout.  We make it out to the Hibiscus Highway and "floor it" down the correct (left) side of the road.  That lasts about a half a minute until I get to the blind curves and the three-tracks, often shared by two oncoming vehicles.
 
8:30 AM - We slow down to go through our favorite local village.  It is aYoung residents of a local village on Vanua Levu, Fiji, August 2001 - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com) settlement that is about two hundred-fifty yards long, and has houses of varying quality and age on each side of the road.  The sign says, "Slow through Village" as many road signs say throughout Fiji.  We smile, wave and shout-out our usual "Bula" to the village folk.  They smile, wave back and give us the "Bula, Bula" (or was that an old college song?) in return.
 
Over the next four or five days, they would watch us roar off to go diving in the morning and roar back through on our way home for lunch.  They must have wondered what we were doing with that little car each day that kept us roaring back and forth.
 
8:50 AM  - After negotiating both the old part of the road and the ever-shifting detours of the new road, we almost sped right past the Koro Sun Resort, which is a bucolic hotel with bures for rooms and a coconut plantation for grounds.  Later, one local Fijian told us that if you stayed there, you got "free golf", for just the price of the room.  What they do not tell you is that it is a "mountain course", with more uphill and downhill than any championship course in the world.  Since a driving iron would send the ball straight into the nearest grassy knoll, it was a "wedges-only" course.
 
We pulled in to the hotel grounds and asked the native Fijian woman who was using a palm frond to sweep the driveway where the dive shop was.  Finally, she gave us discernable directions, or perhaps we just stumbled upon the dive shop.  It was the little freestanding storefront on the "beach side" of the highway.  Beaches, in the Caribbean sense of the word are very rare in Fiji.  At that time, some of the promotional materials from the Koro Sun showed sunbathers on wide, sandy beaches.  There is about six to twelve feet of sand at the edge of the lagoon, but so much for truth in advertising. 
 
The dive shop looked like a saloon from the Old West.  It had a false front The Cousteau Dive Shop, Viewed from the Lagoon, Vanua Levu, Fiji, August 2001 - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)that appeared to be two-stories high, although it was not.  When we arrived, it was as deserted as a ghost town.  Of course, we forgot that we were on "island time", which runs on a clock of its own.  Despite our anxiety over possibly "missing the boat", since we were the only divers registered that day, the boat would not have left without us.  We also discovered that this satellite location of the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort was open only on demand. 
 
A previous dive company had built the rock jetty on which the dive shop sat, as well as constructing and outfitting the building.  They then carved a channel out of the coral to get the dive boat out to the deeper water of the lagoon.  In 2000, when everything was completed, the "Coup Plotters" tried to take over the Parliament Building on Viti Levu and put a total stop to all tourism in Fiji for months.  Needles to say, the dive shop went out of business before it really had a chance to flourish.
 
When we visited, in August of 2001, tourism was making a comeback throughout Fiji and the Cousteau people decided to "make another go" of the location.  We were among the first of the intrepid divers to try out these dive sites since Cousteau brought diving back to the east end of the island.  Since the unanticipated consequences of the 911 attacks in America were less than a month away, we were probably also among the last to dive these sites for some time to come.
 
Sam, the Dive Master, loading the Cousteau dive boat, Vanua Levu, Fiji in August 2001 - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)9:00 AM - We placed our gear on the boat and our lead weights in the weight-pockets in our buoyancy control devices (BCD's), so that we would sink properly once we were in the water.  Sam, the boat driver and sometimes dive master was ready to go. 
 
9:15 AM - Gary, a New Zealander who runs the main Cousteau Resort dive shop arrived and we took off.  He had come over to check us out and be sure that his satellite operation was adequate.  He made sure that he did not interfere with our diving, but it was nice to know that there was the safety and security of another set of eyes to make sure that everything was OK.  That morning, Leonard was our dive master.  He was the only Fijian that we met during our entire stay who seemed a little standoffish.  He was a rich kid, by their standards and wanted our undivided attention, even when we were not quite ready to give it to him.  Sam, on the other hand was a big bear of a man, and as kind and generous as could be.
 
9:30 AM - We arrived at the Fanfare Site, just a mile or two out of the alt="Exiting the lagoon, on the way to our dive site, Vanua Levu, Fiji, August 2001 - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)" />lagoon and around the point.  So there we were, ready to dive the fabled waters of Fiji.  Having dived the Kona Coast, Maui, Cozumel, Belize, Bonaire and Curacao, to name a few, we had high expectations for Fiji.  Once we were under the water, however, it all seemed a little ordinary.  The colors were drab and there were very few extraordinary sights.  The trip out in the boat was as interesting as the two dives. 
 
As the week went on, we discovered why the diving was not great.  Vanua Levu is mountainous and a lot of silt had washed down the streams, smothering the reefs in many areas.  Based on the large number of logging trucks we met on the roads, I can only imagine what is really happening in the highlands.  My gut tells me that they are taking too much timber.  With the land deforested, the silt is sweeping down the streams and into the lagoons, where there the lack of circulation allows it to settle near shore. 
 
During our dives along that coast, we found whole coconuts rolling along the bottom and lots of coconut fronds and smaller pieces of plant life strewn about.  Since the area is not dived that much, there is a lot of undisturbed material along the bottom.  I found a large, dead clam that still had both halves attached at its hinge.  It was almost one foot across at its widest point.  The fact that such a large and relatively sensitive animal could have thrived there recently told a tale that I did not want to consider.  It is sad to say that much of the siltation damage had probably happened during the very recent past.
 
Mini-islands, off the shore of Vanua Levu, Fiji in August 2001 - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)11:00 AM - Our second dive was at a site called The Thumb, where you could dive around and through a volcanic reef formation.  It was interesting, but not spectacular.  Still, it was great to be out on, in and under the ocean that morning, even if we were learning a lesson in forest and reef management that we had not expected.  When we returned to the dock, we found that I had not secured one of my weight pouches to my BCD and a weight pouch was now missing.  I did not look forward to finding out what the replacement pouch would cost.
 
12:00 PM - We motored slowly back through the narrow channel to the dive shop.  It was so shallow at low tide that Sam had to use the hydraulic lift on the two outboard motors to keep them from scrapping bottom.  When we got back, Sam found an old brown and dried coconut and cut it open for us.  He told us that the big green ones are for drinking and the little brown ones, which have shed most of their husky skin, are for eating.  The meat of the coconut is copra, which they pronounce "KOP-ruh", but we Americans tend to pronounce "COPE-ruh".  Sam seemed amused that we thought it was a bit of a delicacy.  The coconuts lay around like so much trash on the ground over much of the island.  Each day that we dived, thereafter, Sam took a machete and opened another coconut for our refreshment.
 
12:30 PM - We were on the road back to Lomalagi Resort again, retracing what would soon become familiar territory.  We no longer turned at the wrong places or wondered where we were.  Like an old horse returning to its stable, the Jimny could practically find its own way home.
 
1:15 PM - Collin waited lunch for us, which was nice.
 
3:30 PM - 6:00 PM - It was time to plan the balance of our stay in Fiji, including our various side trips, and to do nothing at all (worth mentioning) for a few hours.
 
6:00 PM - A beautiful tropical sunset awaited us on our Lanai.Sunset, over Natewa Bay, Vanua Levu, Fiji in August 2001 - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)
 
7:05 PM - Dinner, with time afterward to gaze at the crescent moon going down and to see the Milky Way light up as the sky rapidly darkened.  Looking up at the Southern Cross and the stars of the southern sky, one could get a sore neck craning to see the new and wonderful sights.  Fittingly, to end our evening, a meteor streaked across the sky.
 
9:45 PM - A few minutes after we returned to the room each night, the walkway lights would go out.  With the Moon down, darkness was all around.  The only human made lights emanated from our bure and a couple of fishing lanterns, down on Natewa Bay.  As the moon grew larger each night, fewer fishing families would appear, until the last few nights, when we saw none.
 
This is Chapter Eight of ten chapters. To view the previous article in this series, click HERE.  To view the following article in this series, click HERE.

 


Lagoon View, From "The Dream House" at Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)

Finding The Dream House - Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands
 

Thursday, August 24, 2001
 
6:45 AM - The myna bird "alarm clock" started ringing, right on time.  I put the coffee on; went back to bed.
 
7:10 AM - Breakfast outside, in nature.
 
8:15 AM - The scuba diving gear is already at the dive shop, so our trip will be easier this morning.
 
8:40 AM - We arrive at the dive shop, but we find no dive boat.  The feeling is something like what you experience when you run out of gas in your car.  You are not sure if your plans are going to work out that day, but you know that they will be different from what you planned.  Luckily, we did not have to wait too long to start the next chapter in our adventure.  A filmmaker had chartered the dive boat for fishing and it was due back soon.
 
Oceanic Whitetip Shark in the water off Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)9:30 AM - We were running a little late, so we motored out the channel, past the first point, but still inside the reef line of the lagoon.  We dived the Dream House site, named for the lone house standing at the end of a nearby spit of land, which extends straight out into the lagoon.  On our dive, we saw oceanic whitetip sharks, which I am sure I don't have to describe, other than to say that they really do have white tips on their dorsal and pectoral fins.  If you are painting these scenes in your mind, even the tips of their tails get a little splotch of white paint. 
 
In addition to the sharks, there were several other large fish hovering near their favorite underwater retreats.  It was like an underwater nature walk, with each species represented by only one or two of its kind, separated by enough space that it felt like walking from diorama to diorama at the Museum of Natural History.  Although there were no explanatory signs adjacent to each fish, that was all that appeared to be missing.
 
Lagoon View, from "The Dream House", Vanua Levu, Fiji - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)10:00 AM - I'll digress.  I bet you didn't expect me to do that The Dream House dive site is just offshore from The Dream House, itself.  It is an unpresupposing example of rectangular architecture, with a gabled roof running its length.  However, it could be your little piece of paradise, paid for by the day.  Sitting in the middle of the lagoon, you might find yourself living in a simple house, with all the amenities, but none of the pretensions associated with big-time resort living. 
 
As the afternoon wears on, the winds will pick up a bit and you will hear the waves crashing on the reef, half a mile offshore.  There is a small volcanic island toward the West.  It is eroded at the base and has no shore to speak of.  The waves undercut the edges of the island leaving it looking like a large green mushroom, with palm trees atop.  As the Sun sets, we Americans look to the South and West, in anticipation of where the Sun has set all our lives.  However, here the Sun swings North and West and sets behind the trees of Vuana Levu. 
 
Still, the Dream House beckons, inviting us set up household and live our daily lives on this island.  If I keep up this line of reasoning, we shall all soon be living fulltime in an island paradise.  They teach us to be more sensible than that, don't they?
 
Structure and setting similar to "The Dream House", Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)11:00 AM - Our second dive was at The Caves, with aptly eroded lava structures smoothed and punched full of holes by time and tide.  It reminded me of diving that we did along the Kona Coast of Hawaii, only there the island includes a live volcano and all the lava structures seem new, or at least recently installed.  Caves are fun, but there is usually a lot of sediment inside, thus only the first person through will have a clear view. 
 
Regardless of water clarity it is an amazing feeling to swim into a hole where the light does not penetrate, then swim through a lava tube, up and out at the other end.  As you rise and exit the tube, seeing the blue sky filtering down through the water, it is very birth-like.  At human birth, you have to struggle to get out of the womb and receive that first breath-of-life.  In your waterborne rebirth, your eyes are open and you have a pressure-regulated breathing device already in you mouth.  You are born from Mother Nature and sent up and out toward the sky, to freely breathe the clear air and to live your life again.  Looking back on it, it wasn't such a boring dive site, after all. Those clever dive masters take you in from below, so you can gently ascend to your new life on the New Earth
 
1:00 PM - On the return trip to Lomalagi, we met an SUV at a bend in the road.  Driving fast, he must have been a local.  As the vehicle whizzed past us, Cagey commented, "That was Terry and his mother, Linda going towards town".  The next day, we were talking to Terry down by the resort office and the subject turned to cars and trucks.  I was using all my best arguments, railing against oversized and wasteful SUV's.  After a few minutes, Terry seemed to summon up his nerve to ask a question to which he intuitively knew the answer.  He asked, "What's an SUV?"  With that honest question, I realized how much had changed in the twenty years since Terry had lived in the U.S.  After I answered his question, we both were a bit embarrassed.
 
3:00 PM -We relaxed and enjoyed the afternoon, watching as the puffy White Clouds Fading, Over Lomalagi Resort, Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)clouds in the sky drifted by at high altitude.  It was another stunningly beautiful day in paradise.
 
6:00 PM - As usual, we observed Sunset on the Lanai.
 
7:05 PM - After dinner, we gazed again at the setting of the crescent moon, seeming larger now and setting later than before.  Time was growing closer to the day of our departure, back to Los Angeles and away from our island paradise. 
 
This is Chapter Nine of ten chapters. To view the previous article in this series, click HERE.  To view the following article in this series, click HERE.

 

Namenalala Island, Ocean Paradise in the Fiji Islands
 

Friday August 25, 2001

Namena Island, View from the air, with the Bligh Waters in the distance - Fiji Islands - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)7:00 AM - The scuba diving gear is in the Jimny, so we zoom off to the far side of Vanua Levu Island.
 
8:00 AM - We arrive at Jean-Michel Cousteau's Fiji Islands Resort, which is at the opposite end of the island from Lomalagi Resort.  Owned by the sole surviving son of scuba inventor, Jacques Cousteau, the place befits its Five Star rating.  We were not there to enjoy opulence and luxury, but rather, for the diving.
 
9:00 AM - With about a dozen divers on-board, the high-powered, twin-diesel dive boat swept away from the resort's little wooden dock.  The day was clear, the weather was warm and we were heading towards one of the world's most legendary dive sites, the lagoon at Namenalala (Namena) Island.
 
10:00 AM - We anchor a few hundred yards off Namenalala Island, Namena Island view, from nearby scuba diving anchorage - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)inside the reef-line of a clear-water lagoon.  Namenalala, in Fijian, means "the place where no one lives".  Although contemporary Fijians never occupied the 110-acre desert island, the Namena Island Resort now holds its ecologically appropriate claim to the space.
 
Moody's Namena is the only resort on the island.  According to Joan Moody, the proprietor (along with her husband Tom) their maximum capacity is twelve guests in six bures (cottages), each designed to accommodate a couple.  The surrounding Namena Barrier Reef became a marine reserve in 2004.  Joan and Tom helped design the reserve on the same principle as  Bonaire's Marine Park.  Attractive plastic-coated tags are sold for F$25.00 each to compensate the Fijian villagers who have stopped fishing within their designated reefs.  The funds collected go towards scholarship awards to the children of these villages.
 
Namena Island underwater tropical reef view - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Rather than use an internal combustion generator, with its attendant noise and exhaust, the resort incorporates clean, alternative energy (solar, wind and propane gas, the latter of which operates their entire kitchen, including stoves, freezers, refrigerators and lights).  The guest bures operate off either propane gas or solar for the coffee maker, water heater and lighting.    
 
11:00 AM - Our first dive was a revelation.  If the dive sites on Vanua Levu were somewhat compromised by development and siltation, this remote, mid-ocean location was untouched by fishing, pollution of other signs of man's intervention.  As bright sunlight filtered through the water, colorful fish, both predator and prey alike schooled and swam over and around the reef structures.
 
12:00 PM - Between dives, we ate lunch and looked at the profusion of sea birds that visited Namena, including the "condor of the ocean", a rare Lesser Frigate Bird.
 
Lesser Frigate Bird over Namena Island, Fiji - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)1:00 PM - Our second dive was as revealing as the first.  For those who do not scuba dive, the closest similar experience I can describe is what you feel in an IMAX 3-D theater production.  With the exceptional clarity of the water and sunlight reflecting off the shallow sandy bottom, everything, including color appears magnified and surreal.  One can get up to within inches of the small reef fish and study them in their micro-habitats or take a long view and see the interplay between species, as predators enter the arena.  The experience is one of exquisite sensory overload.
 
3:00 PM - It is time to leave the most perfect dive site on the planet and head back across the Bligh Water to the Cousteau Resort, then on home to our own, more humble bure at Lomalagi Resort.
 
Epilogue - Upon returning home to Los Angeles, several days later, I started to chronicle our Fiji Island adventure.  From the brief of notes that I had kept, I was able to recreate a chronology of our adventure in paradise, almost hour by hour.Namena Island, Fiji underwater reef view - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)
 
Originally, I sent these ten separate stories as photo-essay emails to friends and family.  Since the process took several weeks to complete, I was not yet done with the full story on September 11, 2001, a day when so many of our lives seemed to change forever.
 
After the terrorist attacks of that day, stories of fun and frivolous adventures on tropical islands no longer seemed appropriate.  Most all of us thought that the world had "turned serious" and lighthearted stories were no longer acceptable.  We, as Americans, were in mourning for the way it used to be.
 
Luckily, the world, and most of its inhabitants survived the attacks and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Since this is not a political blog, I will not state my personal views on the approval process and conduct of those wars.  The real lesson for me was that life, indeed, does go on.
 
Moody's Resort, Namena Island, Fiji - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Although my relationship with Cagey ended shortly thereafter, I look fondly on our time together and especially our vacation at Natewa Bayy on Vanua Levu, Fiji in August 2001.
 
If you are looking for an exotic and beautiful place to go, then go to Vanua Levu, Fiji and experience the beauty for yourself. 
 
This is Chapter Ten of ten chapters. To view the previous article in this series, click HERE. To view the first article in this series, click HERE.