Jul 082013
 

In my last post, I took you on a virtual tour of a remote Fijian village on Qamea island.  One of the most enlightening aspects of this cultural visit was the tour of the village Primary School.

Vuanicau Primary School -  Photo by Mr. Reeftraveler

Vuanicau Primary School – Photo by Mr. Reeftraveler

School Building

School Building

We first met with the school principal in the library.  He explained how the Fijian school system works and told us a bit about the school’s programs and initiatives.  We were very impressed with his dedication to his school and his students, and we were equally impressed with the curriculum (which seemed to be both highly organized and progressive).

Togo School Vision Sign

That's the principal wearing the tie

That’s the principal wearing the tie – Photo by Mr. Reeftraveler

School Library Sign

We were then taken to several of the classrooms to see the teachers and students in action.  Each class had prepared a short performance of song and dance.  The students were eager to engage with us and give us hugs, and some were anxious to see the photos we had just taken of them.

togo kids singing

togo girl in classroom

Coconut Crafts

One of the younger classes - Photo by Mr. Reeftraveler

One of the younger classes – Photo by Mr. Reeftraveler

Togo Fijia Alphabet

Photo by Mr. Reeftraveler

Photo by Mr. Reeftraveler

The teachers’ eyes were filled with pride and happiness, yet they maintained the role of formal disciplinarian. While most were Fijians from Qamea, this teacher is from the Polynesian island of Tuvalu.

Tuvalu Teacher

As we left the school, some of the older kids were on recess.  Their faces were filled with a mix of excitement, shyness and more than a touch of curiosity.  I wonder what they will grow up to be in life?  Who will become a teacher, a doctor, a fisherman or even a divemaster?

Photo by Mr. Reeftraveler

Photo by Mr. Reeftraveler

Photo by Mr. Reeftraveler

Photo by Mr. Reeftraveler

togo schoolkids

I’ll leave you with this thought, one of several staked in the ground just outside of the school.  Couldn’t we all use a bit of inspiration?

Inspirational Sign Togo

Jul 022013
 

Last November I had one of the most amazing and enlightening cultural experiences of my life.  While on a dive trip to Fiji, I was able to visit a remote Fijian village on the island of Qamea.

map_fiji

Qamea is a small island (8 miles/12 km long) with lush green hills, beautiful sandy beaches and turquoise waters teeming with sea life.  It has just six villages, and we visited the village of Togo.

Togo Village from the Water

Togo Village from the Water

welcome to togo

As our boat neared the village, we were greeted by a group of excited children – all with large grins and eager faces.

togo kids at shore

Upon encountering a Fijian village, one must first meet with the chief to obtain his permission to enter.  It is customary to present the chief with a gift of… you guessed it – Kava.

Meeting the Chief of Togo Village

Meeting the Chief of Togo Village

After meeting the chief and presenting the kava, we were free to walk around (with our Fijian guide), meet the villagers and observe their day to day life.

Togo Laundry

togo village sign and girl

A Home in Togo Village

A Home in Togo Village

The kids were particularly enthusiastic about our visit.  It was no longer than five minutes into our visit, when they ran to grab our hands to usher us around.  I was struck by their innate happiness, their pride in their surroundings, their beauty and their grace and good manners.  They asked for nothing, except companionship and new friends.

Togo M with Girl

Togo S with Boy

togo beautiful girl

togo boy

The village has a primary school, which we visited as part of our tour.

Verdant vegetation lines the path to the school

Verdant vegetation lines the path to the school

Togo School Sign with Girl

After we made the rounds, we were invited into our guide’s house for Fijian snacks, lemongrass tea, dancing, and of course, kava.

togo food offering

Snacks of breadfruit, taro, cassava and coconut balls – YUM

Togo Dancing

That’s me, dancing with our guide

Mixing the Kava

Mixing the Kava

Togo Kava

Mere Kava Togo

togo 3 kids at kava

We watched and clapped along as the women performed part of the village Meke or history, as told through song and dance.

Togo Women performing

Togo baby at Meke

The chief led the string section

The chief led the string section

The kids were eager to take part in the festivities, although some had to get over their initial shyness.

togo peekaboo kids

I’m a diver, snorkeler, water lover and ocean girl at heart.  And while this was primarily a dive trip, I’m grateful that I gave up a day in the clear Fijian waters to meet these amazing people, share a meal and learn about their culture.  It’s a day that I will never forget.

In my next post, I’ll show you around the village school.  You will get the full tour like we did!

Jun 182013
 

Who says beach bums have to be human?

Crab on Beach STT

Crab on St. Thomas Beach

Bird on Beach

Taking Flight in the Maldives

Dogs on Matangi Beach S

Playtime at Matangi Island, Fiji – Photo by Mr. Reeftraveler

Iguana on Beach STT2

Resident Iguana – St. Thomas, USVI

Goats on Beach

Goats roam the shores on Horseshoe Bay, Matangi Island, Fiji

Goat on Beach

Camels on Beach Dubai

Camel rides on white sands – Dubai

Mar 272013
 

 

I’ve had a lot of fun playing around with the “Magic Art Filters” on the Olympus TG-1 camera.  I know, I know… Real photographers don’t need toy-like filters to produce a good photo.  Go ahead and scoff, scowl or roll your eyes.  I don’t mind.  While you’re doing that, I’ll be over here having a blast with one of my twelve in-camera filters.

Kohala Coast, Hawaii Beach - Olympus Dramatic Filter

Kohala Coast Beach – Olympus Dramatic Filter

Koro Sea, Fiji - Fragment Filter

Koro Sea, Fiji – Fragment Filter

Savusavu Hammock - Watercolor Filter

Savusavu Hammock – Watercolor Filter

Savusavu Hammock - Dramatic Filter

Savusavu Hammock – Dramatic Filter

Fiji Palms - Drawing Filter

Fiji Palms – Drawing Filter

Kona Palms - Dramatic Filter

Kona Palms – Dramatic Filter

Gazing out to Sea - Watercolor Filter

Gazing out to Sea – Watercolor Filter

Every time I look at these photos, they make me smile.  I think that’s the point of these “magic filters”.  They aren’t meant to be serious.  You wouldn’t use them on a photo you wish to submit to National Geographic (or, insert name of serious publication here).

Photography is a lot of hard work.  Sure, shooting is fun, but then you’ve got the uploading, editing (which, tedious as it can be, I actually happen to love), packing, unpacking, cataloging, downloading, sourcing, software-learning, troubleshooting, marketing and selling part of the whole business.  While I’m usually really geeked out about photography, there are moments when I find it mind-numbing.  The next time that happens, I will reach for my trusty art filters and have a little fun again.

Feb 112013
 

Perhaps the only good aspect of a Twin Otter flight (other than getting to your destination) is the fact that, weather permitting, it allows for decent aerial photography (yes, I’m the geek holding the camera to the aircraft window ignoring the snickers and stares from other passengers).  I’m sure many would laugh and disagree, but I consider this a kind of art form.  It’s not easy to get a decent photograph while shooting through a scratched window.  And then you have weather, wings, sunlight (whether friend or foe), speed and altitude to contend with.

On a recent trip to Fiji, conditions allowed me to snap many an aerial photograph, and much to my surprise, some of them are worthy of posting here.

From Savusavu to Taveuni

Savusavu Reef

Somosomo Strait

Taveuni - the Garden Isle

Taveuni – the Garden Isle

Verdant Taveuni

Verdant Taveuni

 

From Taveuni to Nadi

Namena Marine Reserve

Namena Marine Reserve

Namale Resort, Savusavu

Namale Resort, Savusavu

First Glimpse of Bligh Waters

First Glimpse of Bligh Waters

Bligh Waters

Bligh Waters

Bligh Waters - a diving paradise

Bligh Waters – a diving paradise

Double Rainbow

Double Rainbow

Hello Viti Levu

Hello Viti Levu

Viti Levu River

Viti Levu River

Approaching Nadi

Approaching Nadi

Do you take aerial shots when flying over interesting areas?  Or are you strictly an aisle person?

If you liked this post, you may also appreciate this collection of aerial shots.