The Rose-- Willy of Yanuca
27 June 2014 | North Bay, Matagi, Fiji
The Rose update-- 27 June 2014 ukulelejumping flea
Bula! Dear Friends, John told me he especially liked yesterday. When I asked him what he so much liked he replied, "The wind blowing strong and the boat being anchored so near the beach, the softness of the sand on the beach and the fire and the bread and pizza made on the fire and the smell of the fire in the dark¬..." These simple things are what make our days most precious-- The sky, the water, the wind, the fire, the friends, each other. We made a new friend this week by the name of Willy Bukarau. He is the son of the chief of Yanuca Island which lies in the embrace of Budds Reef, east of Rabi and north of Taveuni. He acts as the greeter, tour guide and cultural liaison for the island group. Those are his official roles but he does something else which is uniquely Fiji and priceless in this harried world. He meets visitors and offers his friendship. He talks straight from his heart on any topic and he listens as well as he talks. He wants to learn about us and he wants us to understand his culture. He seems to bring no agenda or baggage but whatever we wrote into the schedule he tackled earnestly and sincerely-not only to accomplish the activity but to give it meaning. It was his idea this lovely evening on the beach. Or I suppose I could say the idea evolved. It took seed and grew in just a few minutes from his admission that he liked home-made bread to my enthusiasm over having all the ingredients but my sorrow that my oven was non operational to the idea of baking bread in a "Fiji oven" on the beach. Then as the dough took on a life of its own becoming savory with garlic and rosemary and thyme and cheese all rolled into the loaf and left-overs begging to become pizza and iron pans longing to snuggle into the coals, the course of the evening became quite clear and we headed ashore for a feast on the beach.
The beach was the back side of the crater on Cobia and we were anchored close to the shore to get out of the wind which was gusting strongly as it swept around the tiny island. Sailors are always happiest when the boat is within view and within reach in case of disaster so this set the stage for our enjoyment. The sand of the beach was extraordinarily fine and soft to the feet and the jungle seemed to grow as close as possible to the beach as though to get its toes into that luscious sand as well. That made it easy to find shelter from the wind and still be in the sand and created a perfect little niche in which to build a fire. Willy scooped out a hole while John and I gathered wood which was soon laid on Willy's flaming shreds of coconut palm leaves. The wind mischievously gusted round the edges but the hole provided enough protection for the flames to take hold. A few rocks made a rack and in no time the pizza was cooking. Once the bottom had a good start it was time for the "Fiji oven" which involves building another fire over the top so as to brown it. Willy lifted some of the burning sticks from the fire and put them on top of the lid of the pan until the cheese inside was sizzling and the smell of the pizza wafted out so deliciously it just about grabbed us by our nostrils and demanded immediate consumption. The wind danced and swirled, the waves rolled onto the sand and receded and the smoke billowed as darkness fell leaving only the red embers glowing bright as we feasted on our perfect pizza and talked of life in the village and life in the U.S. and families and futures and enjoyed the best moment of all right now. The rain that had come and gone and threatened to return ultimately left all together so the sky was very dark and the stars very bright when we loaded everything back up, covered the coals and piled into the little dinghy and back to the boat all three of us full in more ways than mere food can accomplish. That was just the beginning of our time with Willy. The next day he took us into the crater in his boat and we hiked to the top to survey his islands and the big all encompassing reef. We dove. He played my guitar. We told stories and watched movies. It was only two days but we feel like we've known Willy a long time already. Friendship is a gift. Someone must take a chance and offer it and someone else must pick up the offer and meet it. Friendship is not commonplace. It's not enough to step through the motions. One must really show up and be present to give generously and receive reverently. Perhaps friendship is one of the most sacred things we as human beings can offer each other and perhaps sometimes we forget how that is done. Willy reminded us.
We are now on our way back to Taveuni stopping a few days in Matagi and Qamea before picking up friends who will sail a few days with us in the general area of Rainbow Reef. Maybe we will even have time to take them out and introduce them to Willy. We hope to show them in just a few short days some of the most beautiful aspects of Fiji which include not only breath taking waterfalls and brilliantly colored birds, remote peaceful bays and rainbows above and below the water but as importantly also includes a warmth and openness of heart unlike that encountered anywhere else in our travels. All is well. Pat and John Gans s/v The Rose now in the North Bay of Matagi