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Susan Cochran
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Fiji Islands
In April/May, 1999 I traveled with my group of friends from Scubaland Adventures to the beautiful Fiji Islands. We spent the first week aboard the Fiji Aggressor, a top-of-the-line live-aboard dive boat. All we did was dive, eat, and sleep, and dive, dive, dive...well you get the picture. I have never seen so many beautiful colors underwater in my life. It was almost sensory overload. The crew of the Aggressor were simply fabulous, and put up with alot of our antics. Although they did get in their own two-cents worth in the end (actually, I think it was more like five-dollars worth LOL) involving water buckets, trashcans of ice, and firehoses. They deserve a round of applause for that set-up! (Way to go Rusty and Sean. Pele, keep those boys in line!) Thank goodness we have it on video...like lambs to the slaughter :-)
Hot Springs Beach Since our flight arrived too early to board our live-aboard, we hung out at a nearby resort. I took a walk around the circular bay created in a collapsed volcanic crater and found this spot (left). Nope, that's not fog. Its steam rising from thermal waters under Hot Springs Beach.

(psst Brigette, where's the GER when you need it?)

Right: The Fiji Aggressor live-aboard, our home for the first week. Fiji Aggressor
Susie drinking kava Left: Our first night aboard I had my first drink of kava from the ceremonial bowl. It made my tongue a little numb, but that's about it.
Right: The other Scubaland girls relaxing on the top deck of the Aggressor between dives. Other girls lounging on deck
anemone fish I've never seen so many anemone fish (left and below left) and clownfish (below right) in my life.
anemone fish clownfish
clownfish clownfish
We started referring to the plethora of anemones as Fijian shag carpeting.

Above right and left: clownfish.

Right: close-up of an anemone mouth.

mouth of anemone
coral montage coral montage
crinoid Above Right and Above Left: The Fiji waters were just full of color. Color, color, color -- that's how I'll always remember this trip.

Left: Crinoid and soft coral.

Right: Lionfish.

Below Right: Light rays coming through a crevice.

Below Left: Me on a wall dive next to a huge coral head.

lionfish
light rays through crevice Susie on wall dive
pufferfish and corals Left: Pufferfish and colorful coral.

Below Left: Baby reef sharks nesting under a table coral.

Below Right: Brittle star on soft coral.

baby sharks under table coral brittlestar on soft coral
Susie and little girl Alice Sylvia Bee
We did take time out of our busy dive schedule to visit the village of Nacamaki on the island of Koro. The chief's son and other men of importance led us on a tour of the village, including the schoolhouse, church and community center, accompanied by the local children(above left and above right) holding our hands and making friends with us. We were invited to join the chief in the community center for a traditional Kava ceremony, and the village's young women entertained us with native dancing. The younger children all joined together to sing us a farewell song at the end.
Right: The Fijian version of the Christmas Tree - christmas tree worms.

Below Left: pink tunicates.

Below Right: Close-up of the mantle of a Tridacna clam

christmas tree worms
pink tunicates clam close-up
The second week we spent at the beautiful Maravu Plantation Resort on the island of Taveuni. Maravu is a Fijian word meaning "calm and tranquil", and the Resort makes you aware of that from the moment you arrive: lush tropical gardens, croquet on the lawn, afternoon tea, secluded cottages or "Bures", a private beach, gourmet cuisine, some breathtaking views from the hilltop, and a terrific staff (thanks Marge!). We made some additional dives with the local diveshop, spending our surface intervals across the Somosomo Strait at the Rainbow Reef Resort (I want to stay there next!). We also saw the sights of the island including Lavena Village and Coastal Walk, Bouma Waterfalls, and the Waterslides. Taveuni is known at the Garden Isle, and is overgrown with lush vegetation. It was the greenest place I'd ever seen -- it even outdid Ireland. It is also famous because it falls right on the 180 meridian, the International Date Line. I now have a photo of me on the 180 to complement the photo of me on the 0-degree line in Greenwich, England.
Air Fiji plane Left: This is the Air Fiji puddle jumper we took from the main island over to Taveuni. Don't you just love the coral reef paint job?

Right: The bure (hut) I stayed in at the Maravu Plantation Resort.

Above Left: We were called to meals by the beating of the lali drum.

Above Right: Gardeners by day, musicians by night. The house band plays every evening while relaxing with a bowl of kava.

our bure
beating the lali drum house band
nutty Steve Dramstad The beautiful grounds around the resort included lots of coconut palms (left) and orchids (below left and below right).
orchid orchid
Right: Lots of locals and tourists visit Bouma Falls (right). I even joined the fun by jumping off the cliff behind the falls. Bouma Falls
at the International Date Line Left: Me straddling the International Date Line.
Right: I entered this photo in the annual USGS photo contest and had to have a title for it. I enlisted the help of my friends, and the two best suggestions were:

"On three we all jump on the geologist." and

"Casting Call for the Blue Lagoon".

(I chickened out and used "Children of Fiji")

Below Left and Right: more children of Fiji

Fiji children
Fiji child Fiji child
Fiji sunset Fiji sunrise
Above Left: Sunset on Taveuni.

Above Right: Sunrise on Taveuni from a hammock on the beach.

Right: The staff of the Maravu Plantation Resort sing us a fond farewell.

Maravu Plantation Resort staff farewell