Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Do you know what these people are doing? Apart from the kids that are waving at us, that is. Well, they are doing one of the vital steps in growing Fiji pearls. The long rope that they are hauling up the slope has lots of bags attached to it and in each bag there is a batch of oysters. Each oyster has been injected earlier on with a tiny round bit of grit that may eventually be covered with lots of oyster-goo and turn into a pearl. Problem is that lots of oysters object to the injection and spit the grit out. So the ladies are checking to see which oysters have accepted the injection. These oysters are then taken out in bags and attached to long ropes in deeper water where some years later they will have grown the sort of pearls that make Mum drool. She has a couple of Fiji pearls now, not really big ones because Dad doesn't have a really big bank account. More pictures of pearl farming later.
One of the best things about travelling is when the airline puts you into a section of the plane where you have more room for legs and small bears. Mostly we have to cram into what Dad calls "cattle class", although I've never seen any cattle in there. On our way back from Fiji we really lucked out. The airline computer was down and everything was taking ages to process so we just made it from the check-in to the plane. Then we found that we were in seats up in the top deck of the 747!! None of us had ever been up there before. It's great. Lots of room and even a shelf near the window that is just perfect for small bears to sit on and watch the world go by. I spent most of the trip home doing just that, while Scruffy just slept in the luggage bin. Next time we fly in a Jumbo I will pester the Oldies to ask for seats in the top again.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Tuesday was my Grandad's birthday, but he couldn't be there. He died the same year that Mum brought me home from the Teddy Bear Shop, a place that Mum and Grandad loved. He was Mum's Dad and I can't remember him at all. Mum says he would have tickled and teased me unmercifully. We go out to his grave every year on his birthday and some other times as well, to make sure things are going OK. The people who work at the cemetery keep it pretty neat, although they got a bit close to his Nandina bush with the mower and cut it short. Still, Nandinas grow back quickly. Dad says that they are weeds. Grandad loved birds so we have put some out there to keep him company. Dad has smudged the names on the nameplate, he has this thing about letting too many people know too many things about our family.
Scruffy has been a bit grumpy ever since I wrote the first crab hunting item. He says that I am not being fair to him. Not even the second one cheered him up. He wants to be able to edit any post with him in it in future. The only problem is that he is completely computer-illiterate. So we have spent a couple of days at the keyboard trying to show him how computers work. At this stage he has a small problem. He can read writing OK, but can't write reading yet. However, Scruff is full of surprises and he turns out to be an absolute whiz at computer games and at finding things on Google Earth. He will get there eventually and then I will have someone else to do the blog when I am not feeling up to it.
A Bear Movie
The Oldies took me to some movies this week. We saw "Dark Knight" about Batman. I am not sure that I like Batman all that much. Dig back through my archive for June 2007 and you can read about my small problem with him. Anyway the movie was great. The next one we went to was "Kung Fu Panda" and it was even better. It had a bear as the hero. Not a small bear like me, but a big, fat panda who had to learn kung fu to save everybody. I think that when Mum took this picture the critters had just woken up to the fact that I was watching them. I really liked the movie and I have been practicing my kung fu moves ever since I got home. Mum has moved the breakables up out of reach. One of the reasons that I like movies is that we always get ice-creams to crunch during the adds and trailers. Dad hoes into his straight away but I like to keep mine wrapped for a while until it gets a bit soft. Movie ice-creams are a bit big for small bears; you can guess who finishes them off.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Islands are great places. For one thing, the old pirates used to bury their treasure on small islands in the middle of nowhere. Some of their treasure has never been found. So Scruffy and I escaped from Mum's eagle eye for a while and went treasure hunting on Nanuyakoto. Since pirates used caves a lot we spent a fair bit of time clambering into and over this pile of rocks with little caves in it. You should never go into caves on your own, because it is easy to get stuck. If Scruff hadn't been pushing from behind I would probably still be stuck in this tight spot. No, we didn't find any treasure. And yes, Mum was not happy with two decidedly dusty and dirty small bears. Mum found some treasure here though. She bought a beautiful gold Mabe pearl from the man who owns the island and we have made it into a pendant for her. Scruff and I are still hopeful that we will find Blackbear the Terrible's treasure some day.
A Private Island
Here we are on a little island called Nanuyakoto. It is off the north coast of Viti Levu in Fiji and it belongs to a retired Japanese pearl diver. He doesn't let many people visit his island, but Captain Cook boats are welcome. We spent an interesting morning there. First of all we had to get to the island. The tide was very low and not even the see-through boat could get close in, so we had to walk along this big sand spit. Us bears had it easy because Mum won't let us get wet so Dad had to carry us. For once the Oldies didn't race off to snorkel, so we had a walk around the island and looked at things in the water and the mangroves. There were no crocodiles in the mangroves. I think the crabs must have scared them all away. Nanuyakoto is a pretty little island. I will dig a photo out of the pile and put it on the blog later.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Crab Hunting, Stage 2
We had to change our crab hunting strategy. It turned out that Scruffy wasn't as slow as I thought and after a while he figured out that Santa's elves couldn't fit down crab-holes. Then he started to complain that I was having all the fun. So I upgraded him to crab-whacker and the reign of terror really began as far as Fiji crabs were concerned. It turns out that Scruff, despite his small size, can swing a bigger stick than I can. He is also a dead shot and can belt a crab way out into the water with just one swipe. Between the two of us we made the beaches we visited totally safe for toes while we were there. By now the crabs should have recovered, so take your bear with you when you travel.
Lazing at Levuka
Scruff and I are lazing around on the sundeck of "Reef Escape" while the Oldies are off exploring Levuka. Levuka is the old capital of Fiji and is on the island of Ovalau. The town was founded by European traders in the 1830s and was the first permanent European settlement in the Pacific islands. We spent a day here and the Oldies had fun looking at all the old buildings. The oldest pub in the Pacific is here and Dad really wanted to have a beer there, but the pub was closed. There is also a church that works like a lighthouse. It has lights and channel markers on it and they can be seen from outside the reef. The capital was moved to Suva on the big island of Viti Levu in 1871, because Levuka is surrounded by steep hills and has no room to expand. I liked Levuka.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Readers of my blog will know that the one thing I am a bit scared of is crabs. Nasty, nippy pests who lurk on nice sandy beaches and sneak up on small bears who are having fun. Well, this trip I decided to do something about the menace. Dad has a couple of books on man-eater tigers and lions and how they are hunted, so I used a scheme from them. Step 1: locate the lair. Well, here's a crab-hole that looks big enough to hold a bear-eater. Step 2: peg out some bait to lure the target into range. Hmm... Where do I get bait? I just put Scruff in front of the hole and tell him to watch in case Santa's elves live there. Step 3: when target appears, whack it and whack it and whack it!! You know, it's kind of fun (for me, not the crab). If you are on a Fijian beach where the crabs come out of their holes waving white flags and looking really scared, you will know that Bart-the-Big-Game-Hunter has been there.
It seems like almost everyone in Fiji wears flowers in their hair when they dress up. You have to know what you are doing when you put the flower in because you could get into some awkward situations if you get it wrong. The flower is a signal to everybody about your married state. If you wear it on the right side, like Mum is doing, it means that you are married, hopefully happily. If the flower is on the left side, like I am wearing, then it means that you are single and available. Scruffy and I wore our flowers on the left for the whole trip, but no luck. I guess that there are just not many small female bears in Fiji. Of course, if you can't make up your mind about what signal you want to give, you can always adopt my "shy" mode. Just borrow a huge flower from your Mum and wear it in the middle so that you can hide behind it if necessary.
Monday, July 14, 2008
After a busy day of cruising, Scruffy and I like to plan what we will do the next day. Here we are, snuggled down in the cabin with the ship's newsletter and the map of Fiji. Scruff is a better reader than I am, so he reads the list of places and I find them on the map. We then decide if we are going to go ashore with the oldies or stay on the ship and get into mischief (also known as exploring). The problem is that I usually drift off to sleep before we finish planning and Scruffy gets all grumpy about it.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Postcard From Uncles
This is the time of year when Canberrans go somewhere warmer. While we were in Fiji, Uncles Grant and Patrick were over in the USA. This postcard from them was waiting for me when I got back. It is from Hawaii, a place that the oldies are talking about visiting some year soon. Evidently it has all the things that Mum likes; shops, clear water, volcanoes, spectacular scenery and the biggest telescopes in the world. And cows of course. I love getting postcards. I save them up and look at them on cold days when I need something to cheer me up. All my friends send me cards now whenever they travel.
We're back from Fiji, back to a very cold and windy Canberra. This trip with Captain Cook was a bit different, because it wasn't perfect like the other ones we have done with them. We went to a lot of interesting and pretty places, but the coral on the northern and eastern sides of Fiji isn't any way near as good as it is in the Mamanucas and Yasawas so the oldies didn't get their usual snorkelling high. The ship also had a new captain, and my friend Tiko the dive master has retired, so Mum and her disabled leg had a lot less help from the crew in getting into and out of boats and busses. But it was fun, particularly for small bears. Here we are at the prettiest little island, a place called Manarva Cay. Scruffy and I had lots of things to climb on this island, and we did some hunting as well. The only thing we didn't do was get wet. The oldies, particularly Mum, are just too quick when they see us heading for the water and they always catch us.