Thursday, June 21, 2007

Creatures of Fiji

Last Christmas we went to Fiji for a week, due to a great travel special in Budget Travel. We went to a small island in the Manamuca island chain called Monololo Lailai and stayed at the Musket Cove Resort. About a week before we traveled there, Fiji had a coup and overthrew the government. We went anyway, as I was pretty confident Fiji would do nothing to harm tourism, and it had been an entirely non-violent coup. Coups are not that unusual in Fiji based on the history I had read before going, and besides, we'd be on an outer island, not the mainland, so it was unlikely anything would happen. In fact, there was no issue at all and had I not known about the coup before going I certainly would have had no idea it had happened. Only one person mentioned it, a shopkeeper who thanked us for being Americans willing to come despite the coup, when many would not travel.

It was the off season and therefore a lovely time to be there - not too crowded, not too hot, and gorgeous weather. A few small rainstorms here and there, but they just cooled the island off. We had a great week of snorkeling and exploring the island. Along the beach we encountered swarms of small fish, pictures above. They had tan stripes and hung out very near the shore in the sand. If you walk in the water they swarm around your legs. We called them tiger fish, but I haven't been able to find out their real name. (If you know, please tell me!)

There were also a lot of crabs - land and sea. Above is a land crab. They live in holes in the sand and come out in early evening. As you walk they sense the vibration and tuck into their holes. It's creepy at first because you can only see retracting legs and it looked like tarantulas. But, if you wait awhile, you can see them emerge and see they are crabs.

The snorkeling was really fun, with lots of very interesting and brightly colored fish. Sadly, the coral is bleached and dying in many places due to global warming. It was my first trip to the South Pacific and I loved the blue waters and the sunshine, and the variety of undersea life. Fiji is a bit on my mind as I am planning a trip to Australia for next Spring.

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