Since my arrival, I have seen Savusavu as a small town hidden in the quiet, picturesque beauty of the bay but this week the town came alive with activity.
An Australian cruse ship arrived in port on Thursday initiating a great deal of excitement around town. The craftsmen and women lined the main street with their makeshift booths. Most of the salespeople were from surrounding villages and the town’s population immediately doubled. The arrival of a cruse ship for this town is the equivalent of the holiday shopping season for retail outlets in America. A person can bring in enough money in one day to support them self and family for a couple of months or until the next ship comes into port. The residents were extra friendly as one would hear more “Bulas” than on a normal day. The main items for sale were the local black pearls in ornate designs, hand woven items from handbags to rugs, traditional woodcarvings and of course the local foods. Many of the tourists took buses or taxis to the local beaches and resorts in the area. There was also a large presence of police officers to assist with the traffic jams and to insure the safety of the tourists. It was a busy, hopefully profitable and definitely a fun day for all.
The next day as I checked my mailbox, I heard the sound of drums coming up the street and turned to see a parade of students walking behind their school banners. It was National Library Week in the Fiji Islands and the students who read a certain number of books were permitted to march behind their school’s banner. This is considered a high academic honor here in Savusavu. The local town’s people greeted the students with cheers and applause and the local library was extra busy with patrons.
And if these two events were not enough, the Carnival was also in town for the weekend. It was held on a small lot across from the bay and just about everyone in town and the surrounding villages was in attendance. It was packed the entire time. There was no admission charge and the rides, of which there were three, an auto merry-go-round for the kiddies, a mad teacup ride and a ferris wheel were one dollar each. On Saturday the carnival had traditional fire walkers going barefoot across the burning coals and a marching band. But for me the main attraction, as with any carnival, was the food. Food booths made up over two thirds of the carnival area. I even went back a second day to sample more of the delicious Indian and Fijian dishes and I only made it to about one third of the booths. If I had ever wished for a larger stomach this was the time. I did manage however to take home a few doggie bags for the coming week.
All in all it was a great time for Savusavu. The tourists had perfect weather, the tide was in and the sea was warm. The locals had a chance to earn some additional income and everyone, young and old enjoyed the carnival. It was an absolute blast. For this week at least, Savusavu was the center of the world.