|Map of island, showing where patients were segregated by nationality|
This island, a former leper colony abandoned in 1969, is now owned by the Fijian Fisheries Dept, and is now used primarily for aquaculture; breeding sea turtles and giant clams for release into waters around the country. Much of its sad history eerily remains, though the tropical bush is gradually taking over. After delivering our gift of kava to one of the caretakers in a rather "casual" sevusevu (we were told it would be given to the chief of the village on the island later......hmmmmm) he gave us a good tour of the ruins of the old colony.
|Remains of old patient wharf|
|One of several remaining "cell blocks" for jailed patients...not a nice way to spend your last days...|
|Movie theater, Makongai style, we were told the first movie theater in Fiji...screen was concrete wall on left, projection booth on right...movie goers would sit on mats in the middle! Alfred Hitchcock must've been the favorite!|
Since around 1980 the island has been used by the Dept of Fisheries for happier purposes, replenishing the reefs of Fiji with sea turtles and giant clams. We saw many of each in the tanks near the main wharf.
|Do ya think these guys are used to being fed???|
|These little guys hatched about 2 months ago|
|Clam, about 3 feet across, was planted on the reef 18 years ago, now completely embedded in coral|
After several days at Makongai, we had a great sail over to the tiny island of Leleuvia, just south of Ovalau Island. Leleuvia is home to a small, very casual resort, which has installed a couple of moorings for visiting yachts to protect their coral reef from anchors. We grabbed one and stayed there for about a week, enjoying the hospitality of the resort and the sheltered waters of their reef.
|Bright corals growing in little concrete "pots" to be planted on the reef at Leleuvia.|
We did a dive one day with Seru, the local divemaster, who showed us a good wall dive a couple of miles away. The dive, though not as spectacular as the Rainbow Reef, was interesting nonetheless, with fun caves and chimneys to visit.
But the highlight of the dive was near the end, when we spotted a hawksbill turtle swim by on the wall.
We brought the rather pissed off turtle to the dive shed, where all of the kids on the island came running to see.
We left Leluevia and headed south to Suva, Fiji's capital.......time for BIG CITY adventures!