We're in Fiji, and a whole new world - Melanesia - has opened up before us.
The differences from Polynesian Wallis and Tonga are many, and immediate. Most obviously, Fiji, even the provincial town of Savusavu where we cleared in, teems. There is a hustle and verve here that is completely absent from Neiafu.
Of course, sometimes you're not looking for hustle and verve. But so far it has made a nice contrast.
The boys had their post-passage ice cream cones the day we arrived...and a second round the day after. After eating out once in the seven weeks that we were in Tonga, we've already had dinner out twice here. The prices of Fiji (say, $3.50 US for a lamb curry) have us acting like sailors in port, treating ourselves at every turn. And they have also engendered daydreams of ending our sailing years (when we do) by moving ashore in some place where you don't have to earn a bucket of money every year to get by...
We ended the passage from Wallis like this. A flat sea, and two reefs in the main just because we didn't want to arrive in the middle of the night. A mahi mahi has just come aboard and the crew is content - the best of tradewind sailing, the ineffable peace of the sea. Notably, Eric didn't get seasick, and I didn't get a migraine.
And, the flip side - the ineffable pain in the neck that can be life in port. I won't bore you with the details of how it happened, but we shipped a big slug of diesel into our port water tank. Luckily, the tank wasn't feeding into the water system when it happened - we always keep the two water tanks isolated from each other at sea - and I realized what had happened before the contamination could spread beyond the one tank and the water cooling for the fridge. But it's been a tedious couple of days to set things right - scrubbing, rinsing, flushing, repeat. That's me, shoulder-deep through the access port at the top of the tank, trying to scrub the fuel out of the far corner so that we can provide ourselves with clean water.
Lord Jim: "There is no life like the sea where reality falls so short of romantic expectation."