After today’s Fiji diving in the Somosomo straight, we will have the opportunity to enjoy a traditional Fijian Lovo and entertainers from the nearby village. A lovo is an ancient form of cooking in the earth giving the food a smoky, barbeque-type taste. It is a excellent way to cook large quantities of food including the meat and root vegetables. John will begin the work on the lovo even before we return from diving.
Previous dive sites include Nuku Reef, Jerry’s Jellies,White Wall, Rainbow’s End, and Annie’s Bommies. Randall has completed his certification so he will be diving with Zaide now and Caitlin will be my new buddy. We begin today at the Purple Wall. This wasn’t one of my favorite sites, but we were diverted from our original location due to the large number of divers already there. Normally we were the only divers at any given site our dive master selected. This site did include a lovely wall with a plethora of purple coral. I also saw a turquoise nudibranch and a brown coral that turned to white upon the dive master’s touch.
However, the color and beautiful fish returned with our next few sites-Rainbow Passage, The Zoo, Cabbage Patch, and the Fish Factory.
We returned from our dives to find that John had the lovo in action. The fire was heating the lava rocks that would serve as the base of the lovo and heat the food. When hot enough, these rocks will be placed in the pit John had dug. On top of that a “grill” was created. Into the pit, meat wrapped in banana leaves or palms is added. Then root vegetables go into the heated. The pit is then covered and the food cooks up to 3 hours; the time depends on the quantity.
Tonight is also special because we are celebrating Jane and Igor’s 25th wedding anniversary. Just outside the lounge is a wonderful deck. In front of that is the sweethearts’ tree with the water beyond. It is a lovely spot for a picture so the couple posed for us there. There is a reason we were all willing to come halfway around the world for this occasion. This is a fun couple. I think the picture says it all.
In addition to the lovo, anniversary celebration, and lovely dinner, the evening’s festivities included a performance by residents of the nearest village. Because the resort is only accessible by boat, we saw their arrival. Then they added beautiful flower headdresses, greenery at their wrists, and necklaces made of palms and flowers to their attire. Two groups of women performed. Older women in red skirts and white tops and younger women with black skirts and white tops.
Although we dress casually around the resort, in the Fijian culture women usually wear a wrapped longer skirt and cover their shoulders. Men wear a sulu, a black skirt with pockets for formal occasions. The version without pockets is called a sarong. They began their performance by presenting each of us one of the palm necklaces.
Their song and dance was raw and energetic. They laughed when they made mistakes and at times were disorganized which only added to the beauty and sincerity of the performance. Periodically, they pulled us up to dance with them. The men accompanied the women on musical instruments. We all enjoyed it.
Two of the young women had their small daughters with them. The little girls enjoyed joining in the song and dance. One of the most precious moments was when one of the little girls decided she was going to sit next to my roomie and dive buddy Caitlin. Adorable.
At the conclusion of their performance, they sang a lovely heartfelt song in Fijian and then in English and presented each of us with one of their lovely headdresses. All of the female performers gave each of us a personal greeting taking our hands in theirs and sharing hugs and kisses. It was a sincere and moving gesture.
After they took their leave, returning by boat in the dark to their village, we went inside for our dinner. One of our boat captains, Seo, lives in the village and played guitar during the performance. He said they are used to traveling in the water at night. We are almost at the full moon so there is extra illumination.
The dinner was wonderful. The meat and vegetables cooked in the lovo were very tender and had a smoky flavor. It was a magical night.
I was fortunate to receive a headdress in one of my favorite colors and enjoyed wearing flowers in my hair throughout the week.