I am on the big island of Viti Levu again, after a few weeks down in Kadavu.
I paddled about 100 miles, interesting and difficult miles to be sure, completing a circumnavigation of the island. I felt a sharp learning curve with south Pacific winds, waves, and village life. Atop that, staying healthy in the tropical environment while paddling: another challenge. It took me nearly three weeks to get from New York to Kadavu, paddle around Kadavu, and then get back to the big island, although I only paddled for 6 days, one being a warm up. The circumnavigation itself, 8 days. I paddled 20 miles, and then spent three nights on an island called Galoa (pronounced Naloa; g's are n's here), there's an interesting story there.
I paddled another 20 miles, and then stayed in the village for a night.
Another 20 miles, lost my sunglasses to a wave, and waited two days in town until I could buy a new pair in a small shop.
Another 20 miles, and camped on a beach.
Final 20 miles skipping the north islands and heading back to the start.
I originally hoped to go around the small islands north of Kadavu as well, completing the whole Kadavu "group", but the weather forecast loomed, and I took the conservative option of finishing before a week of big winds rolled in, as paddling alone in a strange sparsely populated place is risky enough in relatively good weather. On that note, the second and third days of paddling, when I rounded the exposed southwest side of the island, scared me enough to leave me shell-shocked and very hesitant to be alone in the South Pacific. The sight of waves crashing into reefs makes me feel ill right now. When I left the Great Astrolabe Reef and rounded Chikoba Point in the late afternoon, and crossed along a wall of volcanic cliff on the deep purple swell erupting soullessly, sudden horizontal lighting through the sky, not a soul around, my ego evaporated, and I felt as insignificant as I've ever felt in my life, and so afraid that it took a week for the adrenaline to fully subside.
The summer here has come early, with heavy rain, strong wind, and lightning moving in nearly everyday. These environmental issues, combined with nursing some physical wounds (mostly rashes), nursing the above mentioned shell-shock, and feeling the seduction of land-based tourist life have painted the end of the expedition paddling portion of my trip.
Fortunately, the 100 miles I paddled proved rich, interesting, and unforgettable to the sane mind. I hope to share a lot of the details with paddle dorks and non paddle dorks alike back home, as idiosyncrasies and stories abound.
I've already dumped a lot of longhand writing into my notebook along the way, and need to organize what I have so far onto the computer, but I got what I wanted from this trip already: inspiration.
As I suspected, what really moved me wasn't the paddling, but rather the environment, and even more so the people making a life from it, and living harmoniously with nature in a way I didn't know still existed on this planet.
From here, I will do some hiking, and checking out the inland areas!