Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Road to Lavena

We headed South on the local bus towards Lavena where we had heard there was a nice village and a great hike. It rained and rained as we threaded narrow dirt roads and I have never seen a place as lush as the east side of Taveuni. Our bus ride was cut short by a rain swollen river which had flooded the ford in the river 2 feet deep.

We waited on the bus for 5 hours for the water to go down a bit and then the bus driver hired a pick up to take us the rest of the way. I was crowded in the back of the truck (Yaya and Mama got a seat in the cab) sitting on a bunch of Kava roots with 5 other people as we made a mad dash through the still formidable rain swollen river. It was pretty exciting. We had 3 more rivers to cross in this way but they weren't as flooded and finally at 10pm we arrived in Lavena and got a room at the local lodge.

The flooded river

Lavena Coastal Walk

Lavena is a small village at the head of the Lavena Costal Walk Trail. There is a small lodge for guests but most people make the trip from the resorts on the North end of Taveuni and back in the same day arriving by taxi or local bus. It was very windy in Lavena which made it cool and pleasant and kept the mosquitos away. There were lots of kids in the village and they didn't have school because the road was still flooded over and they all converged on the beach and surrounded Yaya and us. Unlike the kids on Waya these kids were a bit feral and relentless in their desire to pick and poke at our darling child.

Colleen decided to take a sea kayak trip while Yaya and I walked the Coastal Trail. She was keen to go on her own but they would not rent her a kayak without her agreeing to take the guide. I was in full agreement as I had read the journals and people kept thanking the guide for saving their life. So Colleen and carlo headed out to sea and Ambiana and I headed up the coast. We could see Mommy for awhile but then they went outside the reef and were lost beneath the swells. Colleen later told me she had never seen seas so big!

The trail is 5km one way and hugs the coast the entire way passing through the lushets forests I have ever seen. Was passed through 2 villages and several coconut plantations, and crossed several streams.

We met Mommy and Carlos at the mouth of the river that leads up to the waterfalls. Colleen told me that Carlos did indeed save her when the kayak upset as they made their way back out to sea after stopping to see another waterfall further down the coast. We had been waiting for them and Yaya collected rocks in her pocket from the beach to give to mommy. She was really excited to see Mommy and Carlos surf the kayak into shore.

Mommy Kayaking off the shores of Taveuni

We stopped for lunch at a picnic table next to the river. Carlos's sister lived near by and he went to visit her and returned with some rast wild pig and kassava root to add to our lunch!
The only way to approach the waterfall was by swimming up the river and into the small gorge before it. I went first, the river was refreshingly cool and crystal clear with lots of small trout in it. I made it into the gorge before the waterfall but could not progress much further due to the volume of the flow. When it has not been raining for a week it is possible to swim right up to the falss and climb up beside them to jump off. When I swam back Yaya was excited and told me that she went pee pee poo poo in the water and the fish came and ate it all.

Colleen swam up next and found the current to be too strong for her as well. Carlos took this picture of us. He was a great guide, very friendly and informative.
Here he is standing behind Colleen on the suspension bridge on the hike back.