Day Symphony 19, Wednesday, March 7, 2018, Lautoka, Fiji

The Crystal Serenity is at sea from Rabaul (1689 miles away) to Boracay Island(3234 miles)

With the hour we gained overnight sunrise was just a little after 6. I thought I would walk a couple of laps right after getting coffee then take a bit of a break and come back at sunrise, but the colors in the sky just kept getting better with each lap and I stayed out for my full 6-lap port day walk. When the sun finally broke through the clouds it was a bit anticlimactic.

This is my second visit to Lautoka, after my World Cruise segment in 2011. At that time I was on a “You Care, We Care” visit to a local orphanage where we painted a dining area floor, This time it was a similar tour but to a different charity. Koroipita is a private, planned, community that provides for the poorest of the poor homeless people. The community provides houses, education, medical services, and a framework for achieving self sufficiency. As we left about 9 I found that my muffin, while allowed by most countries, was not permitted into Fiji. Koroipita does not have a web site but this site gives a good overview of their program:

There were about 16 of us in a large van for the half hour or so trip to the site. On the way Roni, our guide, pointed to sugar fields. Sugar is a major export of Fiji and a conveyer system for loading sugar was just ahead of us at out dock.

As we headed down rural roads we came to a sign announcing the project and then passed playgrounds and the trash bins where tiny amounts of trash are collected. Recycling is practiced with a passion and composting and recycling of gray water support the growing of subsistence crops.

The houses are built with a HEAVY wooden frame and steel sides. While simple and cheap (About $10,000US for the structure) they are extremely sturdy and have withstood some very severe cyclones with at worst minimal damage.

When we arrived at the site director Peter Drysdale took us to a conference room and explained a bit about the history of the program (While Koroipita is about 250 homes he started building individual homes in rural areas to replace squatter shacks and has built about 900 units) and how the community is governed. They have a waiting list of about 6,000 families.

We then split into teams. Mine was given the task of assembling doors and window shutters. We worked in a little open shop where the lumber had already been cut to size. Each door consisted of 10 tongue and groove boards nailed together to heavy cross boards. The window shutters were assembled similarly. but with 9 smaller boards.

Once all the units were assembled there was a bit of a lull and I could see others doing a lot of painting a few yards away. Part of my crew moved on to cutting huge timbers as the frame work for a new house while I took on the task of adding screws to the shutters. There was a bit of experimentation for me as I was having some difficulty starting the screws until one of the staff anchored them a bit with a hammer and then I did the driving process, finding it was better to be standing over the shutter rather than either kneeling or working on a table. While it was not hard work I worked up a profuse sweat in the hear.

At the end we posed for a group photo although it did not come out on my camera. Our escort (one of the Ambassador Hosts) is planning to post a youtube video and I’ll link to it once done. On the way back we stopped in town for a few minutes with some people staying and returning to the ship on the shuttle. Unusual for Crystal, there was quite a line at the gangway when we arrived at the ship about 1.

It was a tossup on returning between lunch and a shower but I chose lunch first to get a little bit of salad from the lido before it closed to go with my ham and cheese. From the top deck I could see how some of the islands were quite fragile, especially Vio Island to our port side.

There was an afternoon lecture in the Starlite Club, General Arthur Denaro with “Fighting Light, Fighting Fast”, his accounts of battles in the middle east. The second cookie of the day was Mint Chocolate Shorty. Once again it was good but not as good as the regular Oatmeal Raisin Cookie. Louis sang at 5:40.

While Waterside looked relatively quiet the shared table filled quickly. I chose the beef broth (not impressed with this one), veal piccata, and pear upside down cake.

There was a heavy entertainment schedule, starting with the production show 5-6-7-8, and at the end of the evening one of the spot shows in the Starlite Club, Rock and Pop A Mania. I called it a night immediately after the second show.

My parting shot will be very brief. It’s a mantra of Peter Drysdale and he invoked it in place of “cheese” when we posed for the group photo: “Build strong–last long!”



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