Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Rest of Nana & Bajoo's Visit

Kids are now back in school after a nearly two month summer break (so odd to say summer during the Christmas holiday season), which means I actually get access to the computer (and for longer than 5 minutes....in Clarissa's mind, one is "playing" when using the computer, so if mommy has time to "play" on the computer, then she has time to play with Clarissa and I can't get much of anything done).

So, as I mentioned back when I described our adventure on the Yasawa Island cruise, my in-laws arrived just after Thanksgiving. The kids had a week left of school which was full of short school days and long (and I mean LOOONNGG) award ceremony night craziness. The next week they got to enjoy the adventure of grocery shopping (typically at least a half day excursion since you have to make so many stops if you want to have fresh veggies and bread and meat), we drove up the hour to Pacific Harbor one day so they could get another taste of the Fiji beaches (you saw Bajoo and the kids snorkeling here), we went to some of our favorite restaurants around Suva...


and we went bananas eating all the bananas that had ripened all at once....


I combined a few recipes I found online/tweaked based on what I had available for a yummy dessert which I call

Yummy-Rummy Grilled Bananas 
Serves 8

2 tablespoons (30ml) rum (I used Fiji Rum Co....cuz that's what I have on hand)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) brown sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla
8 medium firm unpeeled bananas
vanilla ice cream

Combine rum, vanilla, sugar, and cinnamon in small bowl. Set aside.
Cut bananas length wise (leave on peel).
Place bananas on grill, cut side down. Cover and cook ~ 3 minutes.
Flip bananas, brush on glaze, and grill 5-6 minutes longer or until tender.
Peel bananas and serve immediately with ice cream.


It was delicious!!!!!!!! I can't put enough explanation points to show how good it was (if I could make this a scratch and taste post I would) and I think I made it at least three or four times in the week we had to eat up all those bananas before we left for our cruise.

So while on the last day of the cruise, when the weather was extra horrible, I mentioned to Richard maybe the kids and I should take his parents out to Leleuvia Island before Christmas. It would give us another chance for some good snorkeling in Fiji (and though Ann had seen a blue sea star on the glass bottom boat, she still hadn't held one and Jim still hadn't even seen one). It was relatively close to Suva, so it would be easy to get to. Richard agreed that it was a good idea. Next I looked at the forecast. That TD04 that never quite could get itself together as a cyclone also was taking it's sweet time getting out of Fiji. So we booked it as close to Christmas as we could and kept our fingers crossed the weather would finally clear. The next hurdle....my dear mother-in-law. While she is in no way high maintenance....she's also not a camper....so taking her out to a tiny island in the middle of the South Pacific with cold water showers, community bathrooms, no AC (well actually no electricity after midnight since that is when the generators are turned off) in the middle of summer. She agreed to go, but I could see if things went bad....I might lose my in-law status and become an out-law.....Jim on the other hand....he was good to go....he had trained for this in Vietnam (which he reminded us of a couple times)...As luck would have it, the evening before we left the sun peaked out after dinner and gave us a complete rainbow!


The boat ride over to Leleuvia Island, was rougher than usual and due to TD04 we actually ended up disembarking on the side of the island as the dock was out of order due some lines/chains getting snapped during the storm (I was taking a photo of the coconut tree, but you can see the dock here looking a little worse for wear, it was repaired the next morning after the wind/chop died down and they could reattach the chains/lines).


So Leleuvia did deliver the pretty sand beaches, palm trees, and multiple shades of blue water! (couple points for staying an in-law).


So we had some lunch, attempted some snorkeling (the current was super strong and visibility was pretty horrible)....Clarissa did deliver Nana a blue sea star, so at least one box was checked off (will call that a wash for the in-law/out-law score keeping). I didn't take any photos when snorkeling as the current was so strong both kids held my hand so as not to get pulled out to sea. Here is Clarissa doing her game show model pose showing off the typical glass-like waters replaced with loads of chop and breaking waves.


Bajoo and the kids opted to hang out on a new hanging bed they have on the island....that is until it started to pour down rain. So we took (cold) showers and got into some dry clothes. Then waited for the rain to pass (I was contemplating what modern day out-laws wear).


So we found one of Clarissa's friends from school and her family were on the island (out of about 3-4 occupied bures we knew someone). We hung out at the island bar using the wifi and having some cold drinks till after the rain passed (I seemed really worried about my out-law future...lol Clarissa snapped this shot with the camera).


The weather finally cleared a bit and the tide had gone out. So we started circumnavigating the island to look for the sea kraits Bajoo yearned to see, check out all the critters exposed by the low tide, and look for some neat sea shells.


Assessing the treasures to be found and on a mission to somewhere....


This is the same species of bird! Quoting wikipedia here "The Pacific reef heron (Egretta sacra), also known as the eastern reef heron or eastern reef egret, is a kind of heron." No wonder I kept waffling between heron and egret when trying to identify them/wondering why they were hanging out together. The wiki also told me that reason for the color difference is unknown and has nothing to do with sexual dimorphism.


A perfectly intact scallop shell!


Hanging on the awesome sideways palm tree. Mason was disgruntled about the mandatory fun (and hence hadn't been very photogenic that afternoon).


Looking for sea snakes....no luck yet....


Queen of the world.....or so she thinks...


Walking out on a sand bar that been exposed due to the low tide. Note the looming clouds about to bring some more rain....after dinner, it got nice and dark. I was able to point out a few stars but there was a good bit of cloud cover hiding most of the them. The island staff attempted to start a bonfire on the beach. As we waited for it to get going we started to feel rain drops, we headed back to brush our teeth and then to our bure. We had been our bure for about 5 minutes when it started pouring rain and blowing in (into the open windows to keep us cool...do we stay cool or dry)....I'm really not winning this out-law lifestyle evasion.


Around midnight or so, the generators turned off and room started getting stuffy since the ceiling fan stopped moving the air around. Clarissa fussed a bit around 1am. I looked outside, rain was gone, sky had cleared, wind had stopped blowing, and the moon was rising. The moon rise was beautiful, it was low on the horizon, reflecting on the water....had I not been so tired I would have gotten the camera/tripod out to take a picture, instead I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep in the stagnate, warm bure. Around 6am, the ceiling fan kicked back on and the sun was rising. I peeked and thought how pretty and went back to sleep. I lucked out and Ann took a picture.


After the sun finished rising, Clarissa woke me up to go find Nana & Bajoo (Mason opted to keep snoozing some more). We figured they were circumnavigating the island again and headed the opposite direction to find them. We were right and much to Ann's relief, Jim still struck out on operation 'sea krait'.


After breakfast, the lack of breeze had helped the seas calmed so we went snorkeling again. Visibility was better than previous day (still not like our last visit, but we found lots of fishes for Nana and Bajoo to see). The current was non-existent so Clarissa even took off her floaty vest some and did some free diving. We also spotted a moray eel! I think it's a grey eel, Siderea grisea, the only thing that makes me hesitate is it does not have the distinctive dark spots on it's head.



We hung out on the floating trampoline some (you can see it up above in the choppy water picture...there is no graceful way to get on that thing). Clarissa and I offered to take Bajoo around the island again to look for the elusive sea krait. We opted to go "backwards" around the island (just opposite direction we've gone the previous times). That was the trick! Up towards the tree line, I saw a sea krait! Triple points for the marine biologist! That made the trip the for Jim! We didn't have any recording devices so he came back after we made it around the island. We aren't sure if it's the same one or different one (close to the same area, but seems bigger than the one we saw) but he recorded it doing what sea kraits do.


We had lunch and showered, before getting packed up. Thankfully the weather cooperated and delivered a perfect day on Leleuvia.....at least enough to tip the scales in my favor and I am able to keep my in-law status!


A couple days after we got back in Suva, we hit a fun dinner locale for Friday night happy hour. Holiday Inn has a wood-fired oven. So we went for some yummy pizza, the kids went for a swim in the pool (before it closed at sunset), and Fiji really delivered with a beautiful sunset!


It was now Christmas Eve and we had to quit playing and get down to business. Santa would be arriving in a few hours....Suva is in one of the first time zones he hits and he would be hungry....so we got to into the Christmas spirit and decorated some cookies (and then went for a swim to cool off)!


We made the cut off.....(though sadly nobody decorated a star shaped cookie with blue icing...blue sea star people....come on...next year!). Clarissa surprisingly slept in until 7am...possibly the latest she slept all break! As soon as she woke, she put on her new sparkly dress (her doll was already dressed...a gift from Grandma and Grandpa she opened early one bored day). It is quite sunny and bright at 7 am, 4 days after the longest day of the year in the southern hemisphere....


That evening, we played with sparklers and shot off some fireworks we'd picked up when they were on sale during Dawali (it was dark by the time we shot off the big fireworks).


For Nana & Bajoo's last few days in Fiji, we played with new Christmas toys and hung out at the pool. We also went and saw quite a few movies while they were here. Rogue One was seen a couple times by some people, Trolls, Moana, SING, Moana (again). I do have to say, living where the movie Moana could of hypothetically taken place makes it so much better and I think it will be a special movie to always remind us of our time in Fiji. Clarissa somehow picked up a cold, so we laid low so she could get over it before we all headed to New Zealand (instead she opted to share it with Daddy and later Bajoo).

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