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This is a collection of my blog entries and experiences with diving.
You can find all the pictures I've taken here, and read below for recountings of my more recent trips:

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2008/02/09 One week on Beqa (pronounced Bega) Island, south of Mainland Fiji and Diving
π 2008-02-09 20:58 by Merlin in Diving, Ntrips, Trips

Our redeye flight from Melbourne to Fiji was uneventful (although it made for a pretty short night). We did however have to deal with the Australian bullshit of 7kg per carry-on, and some overzealous enforcer who was determined on having me check in extra stuff and pay luggage penalties). Ultimately, I managed to put 6 to 7kg of weight in my jacket and pockets, and pass the checkpoint, but it's just annoying and turns me off from flying through/to Australia. Bunch of morons...

Anyway, we arrived in Fiji after a short flight and we were greeted at the airport by our driver who drove us 2.5h around mainland towards the south harbour where we took the boat to Beqa. On the way, he had some time to stop us at a market for us to visit, and enjoy local fruits (and a bag of chips for Jennifer :) ).
From there, we took the boat to Beqa and spent the following week there, relaxing on the Island after our two daily morning dives.

The dives took 45mn to 1h of boating to get to, and weren't breathtaking for the most part, but they were good enough. Our last day of the week, the shark dive, we weren't as lucky as some others were, as we only had 2-3 sharks that didn't stick around very long. The visibility was also very murky, but that's mostly what we got that week, and it was better than the previous week when they got a hurricane.
A few pictures below:

The little buggers were hungry :)

This was a cleaning shrimp. It would also clean your teeth if you let it

Wreck dive...

Baby lobster. Still a bit small to be eaten :)

this fish had a hook in its mouth, and escaped being caught

You can find more pictures in the Best Of Beqa Dives gallery, or find all of them here.
If you want it, here's a GPS track of the dives around Beqa Island , with a few samples below:

However, the nicer part of being on the Island, was our beach bure (buré), with outdoor shower, private pool, and coconuts that we got just pick up from the ground (more on that later). Then, each day there was some kind of Island related activity, namely a visit to a waterfall, a visit to a local village school, learning how to deal with coconuts and cook with them, and of course the typical Kava ceremony (local mildly narcotic drink). Having our guide show us around and share his culture with us was very nice.

Our bure

Nice parrots

We indeed had fruit bats flying around during the evening and night

Top of the waterfall hike

Part of the school visit

Kids get to play with machetes in school while I was told not to run with scissors

One of the weekly activities was a dance show by the warrior clan kids from the local village

As for coconuts, we indeed got busy with them, it's not everyday that you have coconuts in your yard. Those things were everywhere... The first day, Jennifer banged a coconut on stones until she was able to peel out the outside tusk. That took close to an hour and a lot of sweat :)
The next day, I got inside one with the saw in my swiss army knife, but that also took a lot of effort (close to 30mn).
We later went to the coconut class and found out you could open them in less than 1mn with a machete in a stick (you make the stick sharp, and impale the coconut on it). Of course, I knew a machete would help, but my swiss army knife wasn't quite the right size :)

The green (young) coconuts were easier to cut with my swiss army knife, and had little meat, but lots of juice

You can also look at the remaining non diving pictures (i.e. village, activities and other) in Beqa

As an added bonus, the Island even had a point to point internet radio link, although the owners weren't very open to my putting a wifi access point on it :) and getting my laptop to work on it proved to be a bit difficult, albeit possible.
Anyway, a week after having arrived, and 6 days of diving, we went back to the mainland to catch our transport to Suva, the capital and where we'd be boarding our one week live on board boat.

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