Many, many more times today we were greeted with a hearty “Bula!” by the lovely Fijian people in the pretty west coast city of Lautoka. The first European to record Lautoka was Captain William Bligh, who sighted it after the mutiny on the Bounty, when he and 18 sailors loyal to him were thrown overboard and cast adrift on a small launch. He did not make landfall in the Fijian Islands due to their reputation for cannibalism. He attempted to reprovision his boat on an island near where the Bounty was taken, but was attacked by natives after a few days, losing one of his crew. Following that misadventure he decided to make do with the meager provisions onboard and sail to less dangerous waters thousands of miles westward, a trip considered to be an outstanding example of seamanship. By the way, Bligh quashed another incipient mutiny along the way.
In the first gorgeous photo is an early morning shot off the ship toward the distant Yasawa Islands, a chain that trails northward into the Pacific. The Fijian language has 15 words for heaven, and the first is Yasawa. One of the islands is Nanuya, where we spent 16 nights in 2008. It was the filming location for the movie The Blue Lagoon, and the only activities were snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and laying on the beach in either a lounge chair or hammock! In the second photo is a tiny island just off the coast, Vio Island. Following that are photos from downtown Lautoka, including beautiful orange flame trees as well as palm trees. In the sixth and seventh photos is the noon train, which came with whistle blowing down the main street, transporting a load of cut sugar cane. Lautoka is known as Sugar City due to the many plantations in the area around the city.
After those photos…fun follows! There is a fairly-skinny-trying-to-be-plump Fijian Santa Claus, and some restaurants, bars, and signs we passed….an Academy for chicken, the Washdown Bar, Have Sunny With You pizza, and a cute/clever name for an ice cream stand, Sugar and Ice.