Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Finding The Dream House - Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands


Lagoon View, From "The Dream House" at Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)

Finding The Dream House - Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands

Thursday, August 24, 2001
6:45 AM – The myna bird "alarm clock" started ringing, right on time.  I put the coffee on; went back to bed.
7:10 AM – Breakfast outside, in nature.
8:15 AM – The scuba diving gear is already at the dive shop, so our trip will be easier this morning.
8:40 AM – We arrive at the dive shop, but we find no dive boat.  The feeling is something like what you experience when you run out of gas in your car.  You are not sure if your plans are going to work out that day, but you know that they will be different from what you planned.  Luckily, we did not have to wait too long to start the next chapter in our adventure.  A filmmaker had chartered the dive boat for fishing and it was due back soon.
Oceanic Whitetip Shark in the water off Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)9:30 AM – We were running a little late, so we motored out the channel, past the first point, but still inside the reef line of the lagoon.  We dived the Dream House site, named for the lone house standing at the end of a nearby spit of land, which extends straight out into the lagoon.  On our dive, we saw oceanic whitetip sharks, which I am sure I don’t have to describe, other than to say that they really do have white tips on their dorsal and pectoral fins.  If you are painting these scenes in your mind, even the tips of their tails get a little splotch of white paint. 
In addition to the sharks, there were several other large fish hovering near their favorite underwater retreats.  It was like an underwater nature walk, with each species represented by only one or two of its kind, separated by enough space that it felt like walking from diorama to diorama at the Museum of Natural History.  Although there were no explanatory signs adjacent to each fish, that was all that appeared to be missing.
Lagoon View, from "The Dream House", Vanua Levu, Fiji - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)10:00 AM – I’ll digress.  I bet you didn’t expect me to do thatThe Dream House dive site is just offshore from The Dream House, itself.  It is an unpresupposing example of rectangular architecture, with a gabled roof running its length.  However, it could be your little piece of paradise, paid for by the day.  Sitting in the middle of the lagoon, you might find yourself living in a simple house, with all the amenities, but none of the pretensions associated with big-time resort living. 
As the afternoon wears on, the winds will pick up a bit and you will hear the waves crashing on the reef, half a mile offshore.  There is a small volcanic island toward the West.  It is eroded at the base and has no shore to speak of.  The waves undercut the edges of the island leaving it looking like a large green mushroom, with palm trees atop.  As the Sun sets, we Americans look to the South and West, in anticipation of where the Sun has set all our lives.  However, here the Sun swings North and West and sets behind the trees of Vuana Levu. 
Still, the Dream House beckons, inviting us set up household and live our daily lives on this island.  If I keep up this line of reasoning, we shall all soon be living fulltime in an island paradise.  They teach us to be more sensible than that, don’t they?
Structure and setting similar to "The Dream House", Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)11:00 AM – Our second dive was at The Caves, with aptly eroded lava structures smoothed and punched full of holes by time and tide.  It reminded me of diving that we did along the Kona Coast of Hawaii, only there the island includes a live volcano and all the lava structures seem new, or at least recently installed.  Caves are fun, but there is usually a lot of sediment inside, thus only the first person through will have a clear view. 
Regardless of water clarity it is an amazing feeling to swim into a hole where the light does not penetrate, then swim through a lava tube, up and out at the other end.  As you rise and exit the tube, seeing the blue sky filtering down through the water, it is very birth-like.  At human birth, you have to struggle to get out of the womb and receive that first breath-of-life.  In your waterborne rebirth, your eyes are open and you have a pressure-regulated breathing device already in you mouth.  You are born from Mother Nature and sent up and out toward the sky, to freely breathe the clear air and to live your life again.  Looking back on it, it wasn’t such a boring dive site, after all. Those clever dive masters take you in from below, so you can gently ascend to your new life on the New Earth
1:00 PM – On the return trip to Lomalagi, we met an SUV at a bend in the road.  Driving fast, he must have been a local.  As the vehicle whizzed past us, Cagey commented, “That was Terry and his mother, Linda going towards town”.  The next day, we were talking to Terry down by the resort office and the subject turned to cars and trucks.  I was using all my best arguments, railing against oversized and wasteful SUV’s.  After a few minutes, Terry seemed to summon up his nerve to ask a question to which he intuitively knew the answer.  He asked, “What’s an SUV?”  With that honest question, I realized how much had changed in the twenty years since Terry had lived in the U.S.  After I answered his question, we both were a bit embarrassed.
3:00 PM –We relaxed and enjoyed the afternoon, watching as the puffy White Clouds Fading, Over Lomalagi Resort, Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)clouds in the sky drifted by at high altitude.  It was another stunningly beautiful day in paradise.
6:00 PM – As usual, we observed Sunset on the Lanai.
7:05 PM – After dinner, we gazed again at the setting of the crescent moon, seeming larger now and setting later than before.  Time was growing closer to the day of our departure, back to Los Angeles and away from our island paradise. 
This is Chapter Nine of ten chapters. To view the previous article in this series, click HERE.  To view the following article in this series, click HERE.