Daily Ramblings - May 27, 2009

After 3 horrible days at sea, Major Wager arrived at Denarau Marina in Nadi, Fiji.  The winds exceeded 50 mph and it rained buckets for over thirty hours.  The crew was tired and stressed.  Fortunately everyone was given two days leave and Nadi is full of restaurants, bars and tourist activity.  In fact, next to Tahiti, Fiji is the busiest tourist host in the South Pacific.

Fiji is an island nation in the South Pacific Ocean east of Vanuatu, west of Tonga and south of Tuvalu. The country occupies an archipelago of about 322 islands, of which 106 are permanently inhabited. The two major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, account for 87% of the population.

Known as fierce warriors, native Fijians are similar in build and culture to the Samoans and Tongans.  But today the culture is unique. The islands came under British control as a colony in 1874, and the British brought over Indian contract laborers to work on the sugar plantations as the first governor of Fiji, Arthur Charles Hamilton-Gordon, adopted a policy disallowing the use of native labor and no interference in their culture and subsistence way of life.  Of course, with 40% of the Fijian population now having Indian decent – the culture is markedly changed!

Fiji was granted independence in 1970. Democratic rule was interrupted by two military coups in 1987 because the government was perceived as dominated by the Indo-Fijian (Indian) community. The second 1987 coup saw the British monarchy and the Governor General replaced by a non-executive President, and the country changed to the Republic of the Fiji Islands.  A recent military coup has left the country under military rule with elections promised in five years.  But all seems fine with the daily life of the people.

Fiji, endowed with forest, mineral, and fish resources, is one of the more developed of the Pacific island economies, though still with a large subsistence sector. Natural resources include timber, fish, gold, copper, offshore oil potential, hydropower.  The most important aspect of the economy is the more then half million annual tourists.

Molly and Tom have enjoyed several days in Nadi, fishing and exploring the islands and reefs.  More woodcarvings have been acquired.  Two Old Hippies will have a delightful collection of native art from PNG, Vanuatu and Fiji for sale this fall.  

Saturday five of Molly’s girlfriends arrive from Aspen – it promises to be an exciting week for all.  Tom is making a calculated exit to China to continue his design and development of Bedell Guitars.

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