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Saturday, July 30, 2016

FIJI: Plantains?!? Yes! Yummy.... (Original Recipe)

Cherubic green plantains.  The flower is not a plantain flower, just for show.  Banana flowers are far more dramatic.
When we were given several green plantains (bananas) by villagers in Kadavu, Fiji, I felt a little conflicted.  I'd cooked with plantains in St. Lucia, early in our tropical travels and wasn't wowed by the results.  

Ripened plantains, ready to boil.
Still, when you're in the middle of nowhere (no Farmer's Markets or grocery produce aisles coming from widely spaced villages with typical populations of less than 70), any fresh produce is a treasure, not to be frittered away.  

We were advised to wait until the plantains turned yellow before cooking them.  Usually I see plantains green, but there are sometimes sold ripened yellow, and the green ones will generally ripen in a few days.  



Plantains boiled, ready for skinning.
Plantains, unlike the bananas sold in USA grocery stores, require cooking before eating.  My research directed me to boil them for 20 minutes, skins still on.  I did - cooking them until the skins began to split. 

To my surprise, they imparted a delightful fruity flavor, nearly a cross between a mango and a banana, with a texture between the two.

Not sure what to do with them, I tried a couple cooking experiments - all gluten-free
  • as a sweet, fruity hot breakfast gruel, with a little butter, a little brown sugar and a little lime juice - good!
  • in an adult milkshake, with coconut milk, fruit juice and a little rum - good potential though would need a more robust blender.  Mine resulted in a bit too grainy for a "smoothie."
  • replacing potatoes in a lamb stew with plantain slices - a new Caribbean style favorite!
  • in the past, I've used green banana slices in curries - ok.
  • banana mini-muffins, with compound dark chocolate bits - the winner! Recipe follows.
Inspired by the immense bag of gluten-free coconut flour gifted to us from another cruiser, I decided to try using that as the base to make gluten-free banana muffins with chocolate bits.  A reference starting point began with the chocolate coconut brownie recipe on the back of the Better Body Food organic coconut flour package (website www.betterbodyfoods.com - they post more coconut flour recipes as well as recipes for their other products).
Cooked, skinned plantains, ready be mashed for "banana" chocolate muffins.
Banana (Plantain) Chocolate Muffins
Reminiscent of macaroons, these are tasty little muffins are gluten-free, but that won’t stop them from getting gobbled by everyone else!

Ingredients
2 eggs
1/3 c brown sugar (or more if you like it sweeter)
1 1/3 c mashed, bananas (cooked plantains, ripened yellow)
¾ c coconut flour
½ t salt
¼ t baking powder
¼ t baking soda
1/8 t xanathan gum*
¾ c compound or mini dark chocolate chips
1 t vanilla extract (or, better yet, vanilla paste)
2/3 c milk or coconut milk
1/3 c butter, melted or coconut oil
optional:  for a bit fruitier flavor, add 1 T liquid tamarind paste (the one I used was a little thinner than the consistency of ketchup – most are thicker so water yours down to 1 T that consistency if you use it) along with the vanilla.

*xanathan gum helps hold together recipes that otherwise might rely on the glutens in flour to hold the structure of the baked good together.  I have not tried to make this recipe without xanathan as I have plenty on tap.  If you don't have xanathan, try skipping it, it might be fine.

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Beat eggs.  Add brown sugar and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining dry ingredients (coconut flour, salt, baking powder and soda, xanathan gum) thoroughly.
  4. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  5. Add the oil and milk and mix thoroughly.
  6. Add the compound or mini dark chocolate chips and mix thoroughly.
  7. Spoon into muffin tins* and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes** (or until the tops are firm), rotating their position 180 degrees in the oven halfway through.

*I use silicon mini-muffin pans.  They do not require any grease for its contents to come out clean. 

**Your bake time may vary, depending on the size and composition of the muffin tins you use.  Pyrex tends to cook faster, metal, slower.

Ta-da!  Macaroon-like "banana" muffins with chocolate.  Delish and gluten-free!
Have you cooked with plantains?  What did you make?  How did it turn out?  What other exotics challenged your cooking prowess?


Predict Wind application forceast for our upcing departure from our current location of Vuda Point Fiji, to Port Vila, Vanuatu.
Location Location
We are still in Fiji, currently in Vuda Point Marina (S17.40.820 E177.23.169) just outside Lautoka.  We're preparing to make our jump from Fiji to Vanuatu this Monday, August 1, 2016.  We were in the Kadavus (where we got our 1st Fijian plantains) in June, and in July found more plantains at the market in Labasa, a bus trip from Savusavu.  I did not see plantains in Lautoka's market, though did find my old favorite, the alien-looking soursop.

Cruising by the Numbers
December 2014 to November 2015 we sailed over 10,000 miles from Florida to New Zealand.  where spent cyclone season.   In May, we sailed 1,000+ miles to Fiji.  Next we’re off to Vanuatu (anticipating about a week's sail), New Caledonia finishing in Australia, 4,500+ miles later.  There, around November, we’ll sell our boat, travel a bit, then go back to work …somewhere.

Friday, July 29, 2016

FIJI: Killer Lookout Yasawas Wayasewa

Whilst we sweated our way up the hill, our guide carried a ladder.  Nothing like a native 26-year-old used to 90 degree temps
to humble us!  Yamata, Wayasewa, Yasawas, Fiji.
We were lazing about after our reef-strewn passage from Fiji Yasawas Blue Lagoon (off Nanuya LaiLai)* to Wayasewa.  We figured the next day we'd dinghy into the village of Naboro and offer our sevusevu.  After all,  we'd yet to even lower our dinghy into the water.

*playing catch-up - more on Yasawas Blue Lagoon and Blue Lagoon Resort (off Nacula) in upcoming posts.


Yasawas Wayasewa trail to Vatuvula lookout requires
a guide as the trail has many branches and crosses
village property.
"Hello! Bula!" greeted a young man, approaching our boat via his plastic kayak.  He -- Simi -- tied up using the flimsy plastic-based green wrapper used for produce and fastening egg cartons closed.  We invited Simi aboard and promptly cut him some more suitable line for securing his kayak.

Simi's English was quite good, and he contentedly chatted us up.  "Do you want to go for a hike?" he asked, showing us the view we'd see on his camera phone.  You could tell it was awesome, though a bit difficult to see clearly in the bright sun.













At Vatuvula summit, Wayasewa. Yasawas  Fiji.  Kuata is the island in the background.
Sure, we said, though we still need to offer our sevusevu.  Yeah, yeah, Simi replied, "Meet me at my village [he pointed to neighboring Yamata village] tomorrow at 2:30."  Turns out a rocky outcropping separated the two villages.

The next afternoon, we tried to park our dinghy off Yamata, but we were unable to see a clear path through the coralheads, and the tide was dropping, so it would only get worse during our hike.  We looked for Simi, hoping he'd direct us in, but Simi could not be seen.  


Guide Simi at Vatuvula summit, Wayasewa. Yasawas  Fiji. 
We veered over to Naboro, and parked.  Simi ran to meet us, asking why we didn't land off his village.  We explained, while he clearly hustled us through the neighboring village as quickly as he could.  "What about sevusevu?" we asked.  Later, after the hike, he replied.

Coming from Naboro added a little extra walking to the hike, but we quickly realized the real issue was a mix of blistering heat exacerbated by charcoal-colored basalt, loose scree and a steep trail.  Wayne waved us on ahead.  I continued on with Simi, not entirely sure what I was in for.  By that time, it was after 3 pm.  With Wayne waiting, I hustled as much as I could, between panting and pausing for breath and wiping the profuse sweat off my face to keep it out of my eyes.

I kept my eye out for logical turn-around points as I wasn't sure how long it would take to reach the Vatuvula summit Simi showed us in the photo, but it was a bit of "The Bear Went Over the Mountain."   There just didn't seem to be a logical interim turning point, and the destination -- 349 meter 1145' Vatuvula summit did keep getting tantalizingly closer....


Kuata, Yasawas from Vatuvula, Wayasewa, Fiji. 
"Do you want to go swimming when you get back, to cool off?"  Simi asked.  

"I just want to get back!" I retorted, a bit ungraciously.

Bottom line:
Vatuvula is a great hike to start off on a cool morning, before the sun gets too high, with lots of water, a picnic lunch and a mellow attitude.  Instead, while the view was terrific, it was a lose-lose in the sense that there wasn't much opportunity to enjoy the journey and Wayne was left absurdly long.  Simi is 26 years old, and used to the heat, which was probably in the 90s.  We are well past 26, used to that kind of heat on hikes, and not in our top hiking form.


Closer view of resort on Kuata and anchor-able bay from Vatuvula overlook.  Ysawas, Fiji.
Worse, as we raced the darkness upon return to get back to our boat, we realized we were back too late to offer sevusevu.  Wayne simply gave our kava, tea and peanut butter to Simi. even though like most Fijians, Simi was keen on our leaving feeling positive about the experience, the whole experience felt awkward.

If you're lucky enough to find yourself off Wayasewa, Yasaswas.... Offer your sevusevu early.  Take a hike, but when it's cool and early enough so you can savor the views along the way and maybe even take the time to capture a snap of a giant fruit bat.  

We're betting if Simi plays tour guide again, he'll do a better job of matching the hike to the conditions -- both of his hikers and the heat.  The hike I did daily up to New Zealand's Parihaka was was almost that high, but the trail was better and it was done at 7:30 am.


Still, the viewpoint was fabulous, offering tempting views into places like Kuata, which definitely looked worthy of further exploration.  Certainly, I would put Fiji as especially the Yasawas on my list of places I'd love to return to.

BTW - The hike across the way, on Waya, is purportedly even more spectacular, and more brutal and every bit was blisteringly hot.

Location Location
We are still in Fiji, currently in Vuda Point Marina (S17.40.820 E177.23.169), as we prepare to make our jump to Vanuatu in the next few days.  We left Yalobi Bay, between Waya and Wayasewa, Yasawas yesterday.  Our Wayasewa anchorage was at S17.19.521 E177.07.918.  There's lots of posts on the stuff in between coming up soon!

Much more approachable Wayasewa hike with a nice view of Yalobi Bay.  Yasawas, Fiji.
Cruising by the Numbers
December 2014 to November 2015 we sailed over 10,000 miles from Florida to New Zealand.  where spent cyclone season.   In May, we sailed 1,000+ miles to Fiji.  Next we’re off to Vanuatu, New Caledonia finishing in Australia, 4,500+ miles later.  There, around November, we’ll sell our boat, travel a bit, then go back to work …somewhere.
Dawn, Wayasewa, Yasawas, Fiji.


Friday, July 22, 2016

FIJI: Sawa-i-Lau, Snorkeling with Yasawa's Fishies

Neon clams against mauve coral.  How cool is that?!?  Sawa-i-Lau, Yasawas, Fiji.
Unwilling to pop $55/person for Sawa-i-Lau's caves, I looked a little deeper for my fun - snorkeling!  

Hard to believe, but nearly a month passed since my last snorkel, on Makogai.  

Best of all, the tourists came mostly for Yasawa's  Sawa-i-Lau caves, so the likelihood of a fin in my face was low -- for the most part these crystal clear waters were all mine!  The skies were sunny, the waters warm, the coral heads, substantial.
These guys like to hide in plain sight, motionless., almost as though the believe they're invisible.  In the right spot,
they very nearly are.  
Sawa-i-Lau, Yasawas, Fiji.
Like the Tonga's Ha'apais, Yasawa's  Sawa-i-Lau reefs appear to be partly in recovery.  While there is some dead coral, some corals remained healthy and others bear bright new "buds" of growth.  


Our friend Patty of Armagh called this set-up "the Nursery."  Sawa-i-Lau, Yasawas, Fiji.
The reef is populated with the usual tropical pretties... Again, like most of Tonga, turtles, rays, sharks -- larger species, to me  the primary indicators of a vibrant ecosystem were are noticeable in their absence.  

Still, definitely worth the dip.


Curious?  Or protective or harassed?  Clownfish in anemones.
Sawa-i-Lau, Yasawas, Fiji.
And thanks to finally seeing Finding Nemo, whenever I see clownfish, as I did there, predictably amidst the anemones, I keep hearing Albert Brooks (Marlin) and Ellen DeGeneres (Dory)'s voices.  While I'm not nor do I have any intention of bagging the cuties for anyone's aquarium, I now wonder if they feel harassed and protective, when before i just thought they were curious.


Not sure what this was, but its head reminded me of a seahorse,  Tip to tail, it was about five inches long.  Michele & Mark of svreach.com noted it is indeed a relative of the seahorse -- a pipefish, perhaps a dragon-faced pipefish.  Sawa-i-Lau, Yasawas, Fiji.
In the reefs, the only thing I take, is pictures.

That fuzzy-looking reddish creature in the lower right corner is bad news for the reef.  It's a crown of thorn,a coral eater with a  voracious appetite.Sawa-i-Lau, Yasawas, Fiji.
Another crown of thorn, this one's the sea foam green colored spikes, below the white coral.  Sawa-i-Lau, Yasawas, Fiji.
Location Location
We are still in Fiji's Yasawa islands, anchored off Blue Lagoon Resort, Nacula island (S16.54.761 E177.23.024).  Sawa-i-Lau was our anchorage (S16.50.808 E177.28.047) before this one.

The changes in tides and light transformed the colors and shapes of these cool rock spires at Sawa-i-Lau, Fiji's Yasawas isles.
Cruising by the Numbers
December 2014 to November 2015 we sailed over 10,000 miles from Florida to New Zealand.  where spent cyclone season.   In May, we sailed 1,000+ miles to Fiji.  Next we’re off to Vanuatu, New Caledonia finishing in Australia, 4,500+ miles later.  There, around November, we’ll sell our boat, travel a bit, then go back to work …somewhere.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

FIJI: Caves at Sawa-i-Lau, Yasawas?!?



Sawa-i-Lau, Yasawa Island, FIJI.  Yes, I really did take this photo and it really is this stunning!
FIJI, Yasawa Island, Sawa-i-Lau:  Who could resist a trio of swimmable caves? Indeed the Yasawas Sawa-i-Lau caves are considered #1 on the "must do" list for the Yasawa Isles, both in Trip Advisor and by several folks in cruiser-oriented Soggy Paws Fiji Compendium.

Sawa-i-Lau cave entrance.  Yasawa Island, FIJI.  
After getting pounded on our attempt to sail from Savasavu, Vanua Levu to Fawn Harbor, en route to the Taveunis, we decided to reconsider how to spend our few waning weeks in Fiji.  Fiji's Taveuni Island is one of the country's top draws, snagging several of the "Top 10 Things To Do in Fiji" spots.   It's chock full of fun stuff to do... waterfalls, hiking, world-class diving and reputedly among the best in Fiji, snorkeling, villages....  

Then again, we love beaches.  Most of the places we've cruised in the South Pacific (notable exceptions: Panama's Contadora in Las Perlas, Galapagos [as long as you don't mind being usurped from your spot by a seal], French Polynesia's Tuamotus and Tonga's Ha'apais) have not been all that beach-y. One Soggy Paws writer described the Yasawas as a cross between the Tuamotus, Tonga and Fiji's Laus.  

That sounded pretty darned good to us!

Charter boat.  One of two ways to get to Sawa-i-Lau caves (if you're not cruising).  The other is by float plane. 
We figured we'd enjoy a more leisurely cruise in a few spots in the Yasawas, rather than skip them or try to cram in too many stops in too short a time, which would've been the case if we went to Traveuni.

We hung a u-turn, did some Southwestern short hops with rather than against the wind down Vanua Levu, then overnighted to Sawa-i-Lau, Yasawas.  

Paddleboarders at Sawa-i-Lau, Yasawas, Fiji.  These folks were off another catamaran charter, though they stayed overnight.
We anchored off Yasawa Island's Sawa-i-Lau area in the morn in a misty downpour.  Before long, though, the sun came out and... Wow!

Soaring purple-gray basalt cliffs fringed with verdant tropical hillsides.  

Dramatically spired rock formations, thrust sword-like, skyward, rising up out of the ocean along the shoreline and from the shallows.  As the tide recedes, their rounded bases with mushroom-like stems further accentuate their already surreal appearance.  

The water shimmers in blue-green jewel tones... jade, emerald, turquoise, aquamarine, cobalt. shifting as the light and tides rise and fall.

The ubiquitous and quintessential arc of coconut palms complete Sawa-i-Lau's picture-perfect setting.

Fire.  Yasawas, Sawa-i-Lau, Fiji.  Unfortunately, fire's as ubiquitous as the coconut palms in the South Pacific.
Here at least we were not downwind of it.
Oh.  Yeah.  We came here for the caves!

Then another cruiser let us know the caves now cost $55 FJD/person.  They chose to opt out.  

Given the fabulous land and sea caves we've already seen -- many of them free -- so did we.  

While most folks rave about Sawa-i-Lau caves, one Soggy Paws writer commented -- back when the caves were $5-10/person plus a $15 shared guide fee -- "It's just a cave.  Good for 20 minutes amusement."

Granted, if we weren't on a multi-year exploration, or vacations were few and far between, sure, it would make sense to pop for the cave.  Certainly, the folks who arrived at Sawa-i-Lau caves via charted sea plane or boat are likely to find the entry price chump change, comparatively.  If we had kids, we'd also spring for the experience, even if we passed.

Despite passing up on Sawa-i-Lau's caves, their primary draw, we don't for one minute regret our stop there.  Caves or not, it's a drop dead gorgeous spot!  

These Sawa-i-Lau's rock formations reminded me of Saguaro-cactus.  Yasawas, Fiji.
Low tide reveals the mushroom stem like water undercut on these unusual rocks.
Location Location
We are still in Fiji's Yasawa islands, anchored off Blue Lagoon Resort, Nacula island (S16.54.761 E177.23.024).  Sawa-i-Lau was our anchorage (S16.50.808 E177.28.047) before this one.

Cruising by the Numbers
December 2014 to November 2015 we sailed over 10,000 miles from Florida to New Zealand.  where spent cyclone season.   In May, we sailed 1,000+ miles to Fiji.  Next we’re off to Vanuatu, New Caledonia finishing in Australia, 4,500+ miles later.  There, around November, we’ll sell our boat, travel a bit, then go back to work …somewhere.

FIJI’s Lil’ Indian Canetown – Labasa

Fruit juice lady, Labasa's market.
Vanua Levu, Fiji.
FIJI.  While Savusavu is Vanua Levu’s cruiser mecca, Labasa is this second biggest island of Fiji’s “big smoke.”  Savusavu’s population is ~ 3,500; Labasa’s ~30,000. 

Savasavu’s population swells with cruisers, influencing the relatively small local population, peopled with a noticeable chunk of expats (mostly from the US, New Zealand and Australia) as well as locals* and cruisers.  A little more growth and you might expect a Mickey D’s, as there was in Suva.

* A mix of “pure” Fijians and other Pacific Islanders, Chinese, East Indians and a blend of those cultures.





Fiji.  Labasa's market.  One portion in one of its two sprawling buildings.
Labasa, near Vanua Levu’s Northern point, is a whole ‘nuther world. 

Labasa mannequins; the locals
do dress up this much, too!  Fiji.
Beginning 1879, a tide of indentured servants from India swept in to work Fiji’s cotton and sugar cane fields.  Sugar cane is still Fiji’s #1 economic driver, and Labasa is one of the country’s primary areas for growing and processing the cane. Today, no longer indentured servants, the predominating Eastern Indian culture imbues this bustling, dusty town with its vibrant, exotic culture.

Bananas, plantains, papayas, passion fruit… few if any made their way into Savasavu’s produce market.  Cyclone Winston ravaged Savausavu’s fruit production, Labasa survived comparatively untouched. We’d heard these local treasures were readily available in Labasa.

Besides, busses are a wonderfully cheap way to get a good overview of an island.  Over 100 clicks and a few hours ride away, a trip to Labasa was a no-brainer for us. 


Labasa, Fiji.  Sugar cane truck coming through while pedestrians wait at crosswalk.  All the trucks we saw
were all this overloaded or more.
Breadfruit at Labasa market.  They're big!  The blue bucket
provides a comparative sense of scale.  Vanua Levu, Fiji.
Atypically, we decided to catch the express van, which was just a few dollars more, $10 FJD/person, versus $8 FJD/person.  We’re more a fan of local busses, so we planned to either take one back, or make another trip on one.  The “7:30 am” van left at 8, and arrived in Labasa at 10:30.

Boiled skinned breadfruit is getting whittled into small pieces at
Labasa market.  Buyers add this starchy fruit to curries. Fiji.
While the trip takes a while, the scenery whooshes by far more quickly that you can whip out a camera and figure out how to take a shot without a part of the bus or someone’s head blocking part of the oft spectacular scenery.  More about that in a future post.




Handcrafted floor coverings, painted tapas and woven pandanus mats for sale at Labasa's market.  Fiji.
We ambled over to Labasa’s sprawling produce market, satisfying both thirst and hunger by downing a shared 1 liter “Coke” bottle of freshly squeezed fruit juice.  Indeed, to our delight we did find and purchase bananas, plantains, passion fruit and papayas.  Still, Suva’s Central Market offered far greater variety.  Also, while Labasa’s kava was grown on the island, Vanua Levu, Suva market’s kava came from Kadavu, regarded as the best, worldwide.

Carved kava bowl at Labasa market.  This is the most beautiful kava bowl I've seen.  Fiji.
Closer look at the fine quality of carving on this kava bowl.  Labasa, Fiji.
When I asked one of the market ladies how to learn more about cooking with the local produce, she offered to take to her place for cooking lessons if I was interested.  I was, but given Labasa’s distance, it struck me as interesting but overly logistically challenging.

While the boys ducked into a coffeeshop, us gals checked out the handicrafts section upstairs, ooohing and aaahing in particular over the painted tapas, ranging in size from placemats to substantial area rugs and large pandanus mats, some getting woven on real-time, on location. 

Purchased a small horn pendant from this Labasa lady.  She was a bit vague about what it was made of.  Fiji.
Despite the handicraft section, shops and a plethora of eateries, overall, Labasa is not a tourist town.
This hip Labasa mannequin was not turbaned.
We suggested Steve consider this
for his next hairstyle.  He didn't.  Fiji.
Still, one feels otherworldly transported. Graceful women with cafĂ© au lait skin and long, jet-black hair dress like princesses, swathed in brightly colored layers of shimmering and gauzy fabrics, sparkling with sequins, beads, pearls, gold and silver. Some of the men stand tall in their stately turbans.  Trucks overloaded with cane lumbered through town assertively taking right of way over way over pedestrians.

We had grand plans to experience Labasa’s Indian and sugar cane culture… to visit
  • the Naag Mandir “Snake” Temple, bus or a $20 cab 10 click ride out of Labasa – a place where its cobra rock continues to reach new heights and offers believers miraculous healing
  • Wasavula village and ceremonial site, a $7 cab ride from Labasa to see cannibalistic artifacts from less friendly bygone days
  • Fiji Sugar Cane Corporation’s mill and see if we could wrangle a hard to get tour (free, if they’re willing, requires closed-toed shoes, no loose clothing and no photos are allowed) – also outside Labasa and a cab or bus ride


Instead, we gawked, shopped, ate and in general dawdled. 

We searched in vain for Trip Advisor’s much vaunted cheap and delicious Horseshoe Restaurant – apparently no longer in existence.  The lack of patrons in most restaurants gave us pause, though we later attributed it to the carnival tempting customers away (not us as we already went to it in Savusavu).  Other more popular restaurants appeared unclean and overly limited in their gluten-free options.

Labasa's only food cart vendor.  He sold spicy little burras.  They were good.  Vanua Levu, Fiji.
I did manage to temporarily stave off our hunger with the tiny discus shaped, spicy fried burra, purchased from the only food cart we saw. Like bhuja (more on that salty-crunchy snack in a future post) burra is gluten-free as it’s made from a ground lentil pea flour.

Burras with tamarind dipping sauce at Decked Out Cafe, Savusavu.
Eventually, we settled on The Oriental, adjacent the bus depot and market.  Despite its lackluster concrete box exterior, The Oriental was quite clean inside.  Each of the five of us ordered a different dish to share, the winner was a black bean-gingered beef dish.  It takes a while for five folks to order and eat.  An hour and a half later, we realized we were quickly running out of time.

We’d heard the bus back could return quite late.  The express van was due to leave at 2:30.  We swung by at around 1:45, saw it already there and nearly fully loaded.  We clambered aboard. His van now full, without further ado, the driver left.


We arrived back in Savasuvu – “cruiserville” -- a bit before dark, grateful to be back and appreciative of all-too-short a glimpse of a culture still intriguingly foreign to us.

Spectacular Sawa-i-Lau, Yasawas, 10 miles from our current location, anchored off Blue Lagoon Resort.  Fiji.
Yes, this is my photo and it really does look like this!
Location Location
We are currently in Fiji's Yasawa islands, anchored off Blue Lagoon Resort, Nacula island (S16.54.761 E177.23.024).  We visited Labasa while anchored off Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji (S16.46.706 E179.19.785).

Cruising by the Numbers
December 2014 to November 2015 we sailed over 10,000 miles from Florida to New Zealand.  where spent cyclone season.   In May, we sailed 1,000+ miles to Fiji.  Next we’re off to Vanuatu, New Caledonia finishing in Australia, 4,500+ miles later.  There, around November, we’ll sell our boat, travel a bit, then go back to work …somewhere.