Day 66, Grand Asia 2018
Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018, Port Denarau, Fiji:
I kept wandering through the same dozen shops, looking for the Fijian hot sauce I had seen an hour or so earlier. Of course, I never found it.
A friend and I tendered ashore to Port Denarau and spent a pleasant hour or so browsing the shops in the open-air mall catering to tourists.
As we docked, a banner caught my eye. It was the weigh station. I thought it was a cruel reminder for people who have been eating on a cruise ship for two months, but then I realized it was for weighing fish.
I saw some t-shirts that might interest my nephews, but no real baby gifts for a new grandnephew. And I saw that hot sauce. It would make a good souvenir for the nephews, but I decided to return later so I wouldn’t have to carry it all day.
Port Denarau is a relatively small resort area on the west side of Viti Levu, the main island of Fiji. Last year we docked at the much larger town of Lautoka just up the coast. This year we are anchored, with a long ride on a tender to The Port of Denarau, a shopping and dining open-air mall. The port complex also is full of booths offering tours on land and to nearby beach island resorts.
And while we haven’t seen a sign of Christmas decorations on the Amsterdam, they continue to delight us on shore. Here they made good use of plastic bottles.
Last year I visited the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, the orchid garden developed and cultivated by the actor Raymond Burr and now open to the public. We went to the mud baths, where a few of our group covered themselves with mud and rinsed off in thermal pools. This year we just wanted to window shop, stop for coffee and perhaps have a bite to eat later.
By the time we had accomplished all that (and a local beer for me, of course), I headed back to find the hot sauce. I thought I remembered right where it was on a glass shelf in one of the stores. But it wasn’t to be found. Unless they read this blog, my nephews won’t know what they missed.
I just had time to make a quick sketch of the marina before ominous clouds, which had darkened the distant mountains in my sketch, came closer and unleashed their rain as we tendered back to the ship.
Late last night, I happened to see a tweet about a tsunami warning for our area. A 7.6 magnitude earthquake had struck underwater, and the warning of a possible tsunami of three to 10 feet was issued for New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji. We have been in the waters of those three countries for the past five days, so the image of what a wave of that size and its damage here was clear in my mind.
Fortunately, the tsunami was minor. Reports say no damage or injuries. Of course, we would not have felt it from a ship at sea. But it does remind me that our entire route has been along the Ring of Fire.