Visit to a Fijian Village

The reefs off each island in Fiji are owned by the people who live on the island. In order to dive on these reefs, the boat owner must first get permission from the chief of the village. When Rob Barrel brought the Nai'a to Fijian waters, he visited each of

these villages and made deals with the chief so the Nai'a's guests could visit these reefs. Periodically, the Nai'a visits these villages to reaffirm this relationship.

During the second week, most of our group took a trip to one of these villages along with several of the crew. This was a busy week for the village since the island was having a major multi-disciplined sporting event. But they took time out to host us for a little tour, choral performance and tribal ceremony complete with song and dance.

When we arrived at the village, most of the children were waiting for us at the shore line, anxious to see who we were and, I suspect, to see if we had brought anything. The visitors from dive boats often bring gifts of school supplies, and the villagers look forward to receiving them. The village visits have also helped to preserve the reefs since the villagers now recognize that the dive boats will not visit and bring gifts if the reefs are not in good condition.

I was carrying a translucent plastic bag with colored markers, pencils and other supplies. When the children saw what I had in my hand, there was much pointing and whispering back and forth.

But what really got their attention was my digital camera. The Fijians love to have their picture taken,

and to be able to immediately see the results on the LCD screen was very exciting for them. The children were climbing over each other trying to get in front of the camera, and I often had to tell them to move back so that I could get the camera to focus on them.

Everyone was extremely friendly and seemed very happy. After hearing a wonderful choral performance from the children in the chapel, we all proceeded to the meeting hall where we shared some kava, sang songs, and joined in a little dancing. It was a lot of fun (except, perhaps, for the kava which is definitely an acquired taste).

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