After the feeling of the fresh air reaching New-Zealand, it was definitively time to head off for Fiji and its tropical climate. I decided to go only for one week so I booked ahead the full week in one of the scare kitesurfing places in Fiji: Safari Lodge. I looked at the weather before leaving to see how the wind was suppose to be but it didn’t look good. Maybe I should have gone the week before because it’s been wind every day, with strong 20-25-30 knots...
I arrived at the airport and waited for Andy to pick me up, the driver of the lodge. We waited for another flight to come from Sydney. 8.30pm we finally left the airport towards the wharf in a black dark night. The road was a bit chaotic due to the heavy rain and flood they got in January but nothing compared to Nepal. It was impossible to get a clue about how the landscape was. At the wharf we jumped in a dingy to cruise to Nananu island.
Even if it was already a bit late for Fiji time, guests were still in the terrace drinking... a day without wind!
The weather forecast was pretty flat for the next following days... No wind on Sunday, neither Monday and Tuesday! One of the reason I chose Safari lodge, is that in case of bad kite weather you can do a bunch of other activities. Sunday I went with Anthony to do some sea-kayaking and snorkeling on another part of the island. After noon we all gave a try to waterskiing, wakeboarding or kneeboarding. It was great fun!
On Monday we all went to a reef a few kilometers off-shore for either snorkeling or on my side for spearfishing. What a great new activity I discovered! We didn’t catch any fish for lunch though. Reason why I went with Max & David again in the afternoon to the other side of the island to give another try. We missed the big fishes we saw... hard sport! I just couldn’t resist to shoot in a school of not so big fishes to give it a try. It took me 4 shots though to catch one. Pretty brave, I put the bloody and still alive fish in the pocket of my sorts as I still needed one free hand to equalize my hear when diving, the other hand being holding the speargun. Sharks? No... why should they come and have a look at what I have in my pocket? Luckily I didn’t encounter any big fish who was willing to taste my fish smell.
On Tuesday, we went again for a spearfishing trip on another reef back of the island, but it was again an unlucky free dive. It’s pretty hard to catch something with a speargun! But this time there wasn’t a single fish to catch, only reef aquarium fishes.
In the afternoon the weather started to look better with the wind turning in the good direction for proper trade winds. I wanted to give a try to this time record of the around island kayak paddling but it was too choppy due to the wind. Not enough to kite though... Anthony was optimistic and went out for a boat launch, but ended only to have a swim back to the beach.
On Wednesday, I went with Max and another guess to go fishing in the deep blue, hopefully to catch a walu or another good fish for diner. We started with 3 lines in the water but the boat wasn’t wide enough and it got messy really quickly. So Max gave up and let us fish... First time for me! I’m the virgin, so I should be lucky ;-) I got first hold on a fish but who manages to get away. A while after the other guest got a barracuda, and I was a bit jealous. I want to catch something, come’on fishes, get on that hook please! A short time after it was my turn to get a barracuda. Pretty exciting to put on the line and wondering what you have on the line!
But still we didn’t have one of the good Fijian fish... It was just a matter of time before I got a walu (Spanish mackerel) on the line which gave me a harder time to get it back to the boat.
I came back to the lodge with my 2 trophies in the hand before starting to clean the fishes on the beach for an epic sushi session with the walu. Eating fresh slices of walu dipped in soja sauce on a Fijian beach by noon couldn’t be better, what a blast!
Anyway, in the afternoon while seating with Anthony and Malu on the deck of the beach front bure, the sea started to look promising with more and more small white breaks all around. The wind wasn’t really strong on the beach though, so I was suspicious especially after Anthony’s swim the day before. But it was my turn to give a crack and see if it was windy enough. I started from the beach with a body drag to get away from the trees and yeah, I got on the board and started to kite!!! The wind was there, and much stronger out in the bay :-) Everyone went on the water for a good first kite session in Fiji. I stopped only when it was almost dark as I didn’t want to miss any minutes of kiting.
Thursday was the big day of the week for me! Since I had to leave on Friday morning to catch my next flights, it was the last chance to set a new around the island paddling record. I went after breakfast at low tide and with some wind, having my GPS watch on to keep my hopes up and down. The previous record was 1h18 and the tour was around 13km. I had a hard time to get round each point f the island as the low tide made shallow water and longer paddling. The wind wasn’t really helping neither. I started to doubt to make it in less time, but when I saw the beach I realized I could at least make the same time or maybe 1 minute less... Finally I made the same time, but with low tide and wind compared to the previous one done at high tide without wind. So I’m the new record man of the around the island paddling :-)
I came back completely necked after the paddling, and everyone was setting up the kites to go for a down wind ride... I just had enough time to grab a drink and started to get my kite ready. We went out on a sandy reef about a few kilometers of the beach and had an amazing downwind session. I worked on my wake style jumps with the tips Max gave me and had great fun! Everything ended very radically when I crashed my kite trying another jump and ripped it... Oh shit! My Rhino 14m2 is game-over! Anyway it was a good time to end the session and go for the lunch, I was starving!
Lunch over, we went for another downwind ride from the same reef. I managed to get a few tricks done but I was pretty exhausted and my arms couldn’t pull much more. I didn’t last long before going back to the beach and crashed in a hammock to rest a bit. And then it was time to pack my luggage and to prepare my broken kite for the day I would find a sail fixer in Tahiti or Hawaii. For Tahiti, I will most certainly use only my 9m2 which is a good way to get started with the unhooked jumps.
Friday morning, I left early for the airport with the feeling of a great week in Fiji even though I haven’t been kiting every day. All the other activities and people there gave me a wicked time on the island!
All the pictures about the week in Fiji: http://photos.shakeyourlife.com/Fiji/