Suva, Capital of Fiji

After 38 hours of sailing from Apia, S’moa we docked at Suva on the Island of Viti Levu, the largest of the many Fijian Islands at 07:00.

Suva MapPartial map of Viti Levu with Suva centre front

Suva Is one of the largest urban centres in the Pacific Ocean Islands. It has been the Capital of Fiji since 1882 and was declared a city in 1952. It is situated on a peninsula on Viti Levu and is a major port for both passenger ships and containers.

Container ship leaves portA Container Ship leaving Suva Harbour

For most of the morning it rained steadily so we stayed on board reading and when it stopped late morning we ventured out. Fiji has extremely strict quarantine laws and it was repeated ad infinitum by the ship’s personnel that passengers may NOT take ANY food or liquids off the ship but it is unbelievable how many people ignore this and take items and get angry when the things are confiscated.

A local shop owner had supplied a free shuttle bus to and from town. We were dropped off right outside his store, very astute of him, and directed into the store. It was a very large, 3-storey general department store which was laid out in such a way that one had to walk through each department to get to an entrance or exit.

 After about a half hour we came out into a side street, turned right and found the street where we is had been told to look for the Sacred Heart Cathedral and School. It was really worth the search. The Cathedral is an imposing grey building with simple furnishings totally unlike the Cathedral in Apia. Next door was a large Archdiocesan Office building and beyond that the school, both white buildings which looked a little unloved although there was busyness all around them.

RC ChurchEntrance to the Cathedral

Nave in the CathedralNave of the Cathedral

Inside the Cathedral there was a very interesting banner for the upcoming Synod of the Archdiocese. The Logo was "Getting connected with Jesus" and around the Cross on the banner were signs representing wifi connections. Very cleverly done to modernise the approach to faith.

Connecting with Jesus banner in CathedralConnecting with Jesus Banner

On an outer wall with a long plaque giving detail of the history of the Cathedral. We learnt that the Foundation Stone was laid by the Bishop of Wellington, NZ on 22 July 1894 and the building was blessed and first used in July 1902. Fiji has always had a close relationship with New Zealand. The towers were added in the 1930s and the building had continued to go through a number of renovations and extensions over the years.  (Unfortunately the direction of the sunlight was such that it was not possible to take a suitable photo)

Offices of ArchdioceseOffices of the Archdiocese

As we came back out a group of school children came past as it was school closing time and we were so impressed with the behaviour of the children. Each of them greeted us and 3 of them stopped to ask from where we came and to learn about South Africa. They were so interested and thanked us afterwards.

Next door to the Cathedral was the Reserve Bank of Fiji which seemed to be much more accessible than the one in Pretoria (Tshwane), South Africa. The SARB has the tightest security one could imagine while this one had steps leading up to an open front door.

Reserve Bank with no peopleReserve Bank of Fiji

We walked around the town and came across a small shop making household items of bamboo and other grasses. It was a non-profit organisation employing local persons and assisting them to sell their wares. The work was excellent but we could not afford to purchase anything. In Fiji, the local currency is 2:1 to the US$ which is far better than the SA Rand which, at that time, was almost 15:1.

Outside of this building was a small group of men and they overheard that we were from South Africa and became quite excited. They began to say, “We love the Springboks”. That was their knowledge of the country.

We were on the Esplanade from which we could see a sunken boat. It did not look particularly large and were surprised to learn that it was a full sized Chinese Container ship. A year before it had been badly loaded and ,as it was leaving its berth, it capsized and was yet to be moved. A couple of unsuccessful attempts had been made to raise it so far but the authorities had now given an ultimatum that it be removed before the end of 2018. It would be interesting to know if this happened. 

Sunken container ship 2Sunken Container ship in harbour

We continued walking around the town and came upon a square which had a 4-sided markerabout 1.5m tall. There was a different event or situation recorded in each of the 4 sides - when Suva was declare the Capital of Fiji; when Fiji became a British colony; when the first missionaries arrived and that this square was once a place where land was sold.

THE 4-SIDED MARKER

Marker declaring Suva
Marker with date of arrival of 1st missionariesMarker with date declariing fiji a British colonyMarker for where cars were sold

We walked back through the town, which we found to be grubby but litter-free, to the store where we had been dropped off to catch another shuttle back to the bus. Half an hour after re-boarding the rain began to come down once more. Perfect timing on our part.

Tug in harbourThe Pilot boat returns to the harbour after assisting our ship

About Me

I was born into the early part of the Baby Boomer generation, the 3rd of what came to be a family of 6 daughters. Although both our parents, who are now deceased, had been raised in rural Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal) and the 2 eldest daughters were born in a country town, the other 4 of us were all born at home in Durban. Read More

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