Namenalala Island, Ocean Paradise
Friday August 25, 2001
7:00 AM – The scuba diving gear is in the Jimny, so we zoom off to the far side of Vanua Levu Island
8:00 AM – We arrive at Jean-Michel Cousteau's Fiji Islands Resort, which is at the opposite end of the island from Lomalagi Resort. Owned by the sole surviving son of scuba inventor, Jacques Cousteau, the place befits its Five Star rating. We were not there to enjoy opulence and luxury, but rather, for the diving.
11:00 AM – Our first dive was a revelation. If the dive sites on Vanua Levu were somewhat compromised by development and siltation, this remote, mid-ocean location was untouched by fishing, pollution of other signs of man’s intervention. As bright sunlight filtered through the water, colorful fish, both predator and prey alike schooled and swam over and around the reef structures.
12:00 PM – Between dives, we ate lunch and looked at the profusion of sea birds that visited Namena, including the “condor of the ocean”, a rare Lesser Frigate Bird.
1:00 PM – Our second dive was as revealing as the first. For those who do not scuba dive, the closest similar experience I can describe is what you feel in an IMAX 3-D theater production. With the exceptional clarity of the water and sunlight reflecting off the shallow sandy bottom, everything, including color appears magnified and surreal. One can get up to within inches of the small reef fish and study them in their microhabitats or take a long view and see the interplay between species, as predators enter the arena. The experience is one of exquisite sensory overload.
3:00 PM – It is time to leave the most perfect dive site on the planet and head back across the Bligh Water to the Cousteau Resort, then on home to our own, more humble bure at Lomalagi Resort.
Epilogue – Upon returning home to Los Angeles, several days later, I started to chronicle our Fiji Island adventure. From the brief of notes that I had kept, I was able to recreate a chronology of our adventure in paradise, almost hour by hour.
Originally, I sent these ten separate stories as photo-essay emails to friends and family. Since the process took several weeks to complete, I was not yet done with the full story on September 11, 2001, a day when so many of our lives seemed to change forever.
After the terrorist attacks of that day, stories of fun and frivolous adventures on tropical islands no longer seemed appropriate. Most all of us thought that the world had “turned serious” and lighthearted stories were no longer acceptable. We, as Americans, were in mourning for the way it used to be.
Luckily, the world, and most of its inhabitants survived the attacks and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Since this is not a political blog, I will not state my personal views on the approval process and conduct of those wars. The real lesson for me was that life, indeed, does go on.
Although my relationship with Cagey ended shortly thereafter, I look fondly on our time together and especially our vacation at Natewa Bay on Vanua Levu, Fiji in August 2001.
If you are looking for a special place to go , then go to Vanua Levu, Fiji and experience the beauty for yourself.
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