After arriving Fiji in the beginning of September 2023, we spent three weeks back and forth between marina life at Vuda Marina and tourist life in Musket cove.

After having Escape on land for maintenance and repair, we needed to get away. We headed for the Yasawa, a group of islands on Fiji west coast. Our first stop was in the ‘Manta ray’ passage. We snorkelled it morning, lunch and afternoon, but no mantas showed up.

After two days, we lifted anchor and headed north between the reef and islands. We passed all resorts and beach bars at safe distance and headed for Somosomo village on the northernmost bay on Naviti Island. It was what we looked for. Rural Fiji, quiet, a nice village and the opportunity to spend time with locals.

Kava Ceremony; Kava is a root used for thousands of years across the South Pacific. It is prepared and drunk as an integral part of local cultures throughout Polynesia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Australia. It has a calming effect and is used in private, religious and political settings.

Kava ceremony with village chief

We bought Kava roots in the local market in Lautoka on the ‘mainland’. As tradition requested, our first call to the village was to meet the village chief to give a Kava root as an offering and sign of respect.

The Kava was duly presented and after a short ceremony by the village chief (in blue), translated by his mate (in yellow) we were welcomed and accepted in the village, allowed to come ashore, swim on the reefs and feel at home.

Kids will be kids; It did not take long for Vetle to get up to speed with the village kids. A ball is all it takes to transcend cultural, language, gender and age barriers. We know this and Vetle brought one of his seven balls to the beach. Before long they were all playing and having fun.

To us, as parents, it is fun to see how quickly the kids adjust to each other. Some are experts with the ball, some are fast runners, some prefer to climb trees and some swim like fishes. They talk, shout, cry, smile and laugh together on whatever oral language they prefer whilst keeping their body language international.

These experiences is what we want to give Vetle and hope for him to remember as he grows up. EXPLORING a childhood without smart phones, smart watches, brands and marketing gurus pushing or other useless items of ‘modern age’ that seems so utterly unneeded where we are.

Each day at 07:00 the village bell rang announcing that the school boat would leave in 30 minutes. Then a quarter past and at 7:30 they left for school in uniforms. All kids in Fiji is required to attend school. We aim to have Vetle attend local schools wherever we visit but only with longer visits. Boat school started as the bell rang.

Bonding in the village; Theresa feels increasingly at home as we move westward through the Pacific. Geography, village living and the social interactions are similar to what one finds in SE Asia and Philippines. At the local markets she finds herbs and vegetables that we have not seen in a long time. Fruits, leaves and roots collected on our hikes finds its way into salads and Philippine dishes for lunch and dinner.

Her smile grew really big when we learned that the women from the village harvested ‘sea grapes’ to sell in the Lautoka market. ‘Can I come?’ Yes, she could. The morning after she was picked up by the local women on their way to the reef where the ‘sea grapes’ grow. I could see them in the binoculars from sv Escape. Walking the reef at low tide harvesting. The ‘Sea grapes’ together with coconut copra is the main income for the village.

After two hours I dinghied out to them to share some snack and pick up Theresa. by then she was really cold and I could see the local women were freezing. It sounds strange but the water on the reef was cold and the women spent six hours picking ‘Sea grapes’. The men was nowhere to be seen.

The reef; We snorkel and explore the underwater world wherever we anchor. Often we look for passes between reefs and do drift snorkelling. On rising tide, we dinghy out the pass and drift in to the reef. That often results in clear water and big fishes. The reef in Somosomo was not a passage but it has a sharp drop-off. On the rising tide the fresh cold water is pushed up from the deep and the larger fish patrol the edge of the reef. On the drop-off we saw black tip sharks, barracudas and some groupers. Further in, there were turtles grassing and colourful reef fishes hiding in the corals.

The real Kava ceremony; We did not get invited to a Kava ceremony on presenting our Kava root to the village chief. Luckily we had two roots, and asked Sara (a local lady with whom Theresa had picked sea grapes) if it was ok to have a ceremony. She would have it all arranged in the afternoon the following day.

The following day we brought the root and our expectations to land from the boat. We had read up on the Kava root and were prepared to taste it.

Keep tuned for the Kava ceremony