6 October 2010
191. Tramp of the South Seas (5)
When we made it to Suva the first thing to do was to go to some administration to have the boat papers and our passports stamped. I remember waiting in a gloomy room with the captain wondering what was next. An Indian Fijian eventually welcome us and duly stamped several copies of some document saying we were now in Fiji.
I had previously heard on the news in New Caledonia of the troubles between two ethnic groups in Fiji, the indigenous Fijians and the population from India which had been imported in the 19th century for labor purposes. When I walked through the busy streets of Suva I realized what it meant. These two groups look very different indeed. I soon learnt not to greet Indians with the loud 'boulah' used by the indigenous Fijians.
Having come all the way from the Tuamotus in Polynesia I felt that these people were more Melanesian than Polynesian. I realized I was getting closer to home. New Caledonia is populated by indigenous Melanesians. They are people who like to keep a low profile whereas the Polynesians tend to be show-off's. Here I have to say again that I do not believe in the theory whereby the Pacific ocean had been slowly populated eastward. It simply does NOT make sense... unless the earth turned the other way round once a long time ago! The trade winds blow from East to West and it is visually obvious that the Polynesian sailors slowly invaded the Pacific westward. The Fijis are on the border between Polynesia and Melanesia so to speak. But Polynesians can be found as far as Ouvea, an island off the main island of New Caledonia. They live side by side with Melanesians on that tiny island.
My explanation does not sound very clear and some will say it is not scientific. But when scientists come out with theories that don't make sense on the ground I don't believe them. That's all.
I was due to leave this rally yacht in Suva. But as the end of the Tahiti-Fiji leg of the rally was on Malololailai (Musket island further west) I agreed to stay on until then. However the captain introduced me to the skipper of another sailboat I had found needing crew to New Caledonia. He said: "she's a good cook, it's the first time I don't lose weight during a passage". He omitted to say I didn't like using sophisticated instruments... So I was 'hired' with the understanding that I'd come back from Malololailai some time later.