We Pause...

by Momo The Wonder Dog

The weather has been great, even with the occasional thunderstorm. I've had a couple of hair cuts and there is more trimming to do, but I'm ready for the warmer weather.

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I'm filling in for Pandabonium as he is taking a short blog break to get to know his new camera. When he figures it out, I'm sure you get to see many more "new and improved" pictures of yours truly. :P

So, anyway, now days I get let off the leash when we go for walks. I have to have it on when we are on the regular streets where there is traffic, but out in the fields where only the tractors go I'm free. Of course I don't wander far and I stay out of the fields where the crops are. I always come running if called and wait for the leash to be put back on before we get back on the street. I try my best to be good, 'cause I really like the freedom of being able to walk ahead or stop and sniff without tugging on the leash.

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By the way, Pandabonium says that because of my small feet I could be a great radio or TV announcer. I asked him, "Why do you say that?" And he said, "Well Momo, who better to say....
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'Wee paws, for station identification' ?"

(Tee hee).

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Well, back to guard duty.


Hokule'a Reaches Japan

Update - New Picture

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"The Yap-to-Okinawa Crew: After 11 days and 1200 miles, the crew landed safely in Okinawa (4/23, 6 a.m. HST, or 4/24, 1 a.m. JST). From left to right, front row: Takuji Araki of Okinawa, apprentice navigator Ka'iulani Murphy, captain and navigator Nainoa Thompson, first mate Chadd Paishon of Kamuela, Kanako Uchino of Japan, Pomai Bertelmann of Kamuela, Atwood Makanani of Maui, back row: Kaina Holomalia of Nanakuli, Dr. Pete Roney the on-board doctor, Maile Neff of Kaua'i (hidden behind Chadd!), and Timothy Gilliom of Maui." -Crew blog

Hokule'a reached Itoman Port on Okinawa about 1 am this morning (Tuesday) Japan time. Despite the hour, about 150 people were there to greet the crew. They were to clear customs early this afternoon and be hosted at a dinner tonight by 100 people from Hawai'i who live on Okinawa.

The Honolulu Advertiser said, "Other activities planned include school visits, canoe tours, a workshop and a visit to the Marine Museum in Motobu, Okinawa. Crew members from the Big Island plan to carry messages from children of a Punana Leo school in Hilo. The children wrote their Hawaiian greeting in kanji as part of a new program that teaches the students the Japanese language characters as a strong basis to learn oral languages."

Just today, this video about Hokule'a was posted on YouTube. It is an interview with master navigator Nainoa Thompson about the Hokule'a's history and its voyage to Japan. Great explanation and pictures. About 8 1/2 minutes. Japanese version also available on the YouTube website.

Ho'omaika'i Ana Hokule'a


Under A Fiji Moon

David Stanley's "Moon Fiji" (8th edition) is about to go to press. David writes the best South Pacific guides in the business (as well as the South Pacific Travel Blog).

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So take at look over at his blog, linked above, and find out what's new (A LOT). Then order your own copy and start planning that Fiji trip!


Ku Holo La Komohana

Hokule'a Voyage Update

"Ku Holo La Komohana - Sail On To The Western Sun"

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The title of this post is the name given to this voyage by Hawaiian scholar and author, Lilikala Kame'eleihiwa. On the Hawaiian star compass, komohana, the western sun, marks the sailing direction from Hawai'i to Japan.

Following the visit to Palua and a brief return to Yap, the Polynesian Voyaging Society's double hulled sailing canoe, Hokule'a, is now well on her way to Okinawa. There was some delay to make sure that the weather enroute would not pose any extreme hazards (such as a cyclone). She is now less than 160 miles (296 km) from Itoman Harbor, Okinawa, making 4.3 knots.

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Navigating by the sun and stars, Holuke'a will sail up to the latitude of Okinawa (26 degrees N) then turn west until landfall. At that latitude, the Southern Cross (Hanaiakamalama) sits right on the horizon indicating due south.

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As the Southern Cross sets S by W, other stars - Alpha and Beta Centauri (Kamailemua and Kamailehope) transit the meridian about an hour and a half apart, at 3.5 and 3 degrees above the horizon respectively, offering more cues for Hokule'a to stay on course at 26 degrees N latitude.

The visit to Japan celebrates the ties between Hawaii and Japan which began in 1881 when King David Kalakaua became the first head of state to visit Japan after the Meiji Restoration. In 1885, King Kalakaua requested and Emperor Meiji signed an agreement which allowed for the immigration of Japanese workers to Hawai‘i.

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"The voyage will nurture multi-generational, multicultural family ties and provide an opportunity for cultural exchanges, with Hawai'i sharing with the Japanese the story of Hokule'a and the renaissance of Hawaiian culture and pride. The voyage will also celebrate Hawai‘i’s cultural diversity, honor our ancestors, encourage stewardship of our environment, and contribute to global peace by fostering cultural understanding and appreciation." - Polynesian Voyaging Society

For the latest details, photos and navigation information about Hokule'a, visit:


Velo Dog!

by Momo the Wonder Dog

Every time that Pandabonium rolls his bicycle out of the garage, I know I'm going to be left behind. But here's a doggie with her own bicycle! She rides and her human walks.

This dog's name is Momo too!

I want a bike too. Pandabonium says "no way". He's says I have poor "situational awareness" (whatever that is) when it comes to traffic. I think he's just afraid I'd be better at it than he is. ^o_-^

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Floundering In The Wind

The answer my friend, is floundering in the wind...

After taking photos of a couple of soba restaurants by Kashima Shrine last week for my "tagged" post, I turned the bicycle toward the fishing harbor ("harbour" for my British Empire friends) a few miles away. Not the big industrial port, but a much smaller harbor for fishing boats about 2.5 miles north of that. The air temperature was comfortable, but it was one of those overcast days that make for "contrasty" (i.e. lousy) picture taking.

Along the way, I passed a kindergarten with an unusual relic in the play yard - an old Mitsubishi T-2 supersonic training aircraft. ("And what did you do today in school, Noriko?; finger painting? origami?" - "Get real, Mom, we broke the sound barrier!").

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A bit further on I came to the Kashima Cultivation and Fishery Center. K and I had visited here a few weeks ago, but my camera's batteries had died, so I didn't do a post about it at the time.

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The plant is run by Ibaraki Prefecture and is about ten years old or so. It is located adjacent to the fishing harbor and its function is to cultivate fish for the local industry. They grow abalone and clams from the plankton stage and flounder and sea bass from eggs. This is not fish farming. They grow these animals to a certain size, then release them into the environment along the coast of Ibaraki in order to keep the populations at sustainable levels.

In the lobby they have some very cool displays with microscopes for viewing the plankton, and computers, video displays, aquariums and so on to explain the work that they do. Schools bring children here on field trips. When we were there, a man came out from the offices and patiently answered lots of questions even though it was just the two of us.

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Small tanks outside have samples of the four types of sea life they grow at early to middle stages and you can reach in the tanks to touch them. A large tank with a walking bridge over it holds full grown sea bass and flounder. There were some really big (and delicious looking) specimens in there. We were both fascinated watching the flounders swim - sideways.

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K and I only briefly visited the harbor that day, and so while bicycling I spent more time there. It was mid-day, so the boats had all returned and unloaded their catch. The fish market was empty and they were cleaning up. The last trucks were leaving as I approached. Some fishermen/women were laying out nets for the next day.

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This place is not at all like the lovely harbor at Santa Barbara, California, with its mix of pleasure craft and fishing boats, where I spent many a vacation in my early years sailing with my brother or on my own, but rather a "strictly business" port for commercial fishers. At Santa Barbara, the breakwater is a modest affair with a pedestrian walk along it. Here, it is a high wall with no hint of the sea on the other side save for the vibration of the pounding waves. No gentle seas protected by the Channel Islands here.

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I like harbors and airports. They offer dreams of freedom on the sea or in the air, of adventure and travel. Yes, we over-use our resources, like the fuel for our boats and planes, and we have over-fished the seas, stealing from future generations, but it does not have to be so if we will stop being so greedy (stupid) and think about what is sustainable.

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A wind turbine, the fishery's roof to the left, and fishing harbor of Kashima.

Above the harbor and the fishery there are giants that flail their arms in the winds. They arrived just last year and dominate the view wherever one looks around Kashima Port and harbor, but they are gentle giants - Kashima's ten new wind turbines, producing 42 Gigawatts of power a year.

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Each one of the ten wind turbines is 78 meters (255 feet) tall. The 2,000kW units are manufactured by Gamesa Eolica, S.A. in Spain. The rotors have a diameter of 80 meters (262 feet) - think "jumbo jet" size. At their highest point, the blades reach 118 meters (390 feet), equivalent to a 30-story building. The blades and nacelles were imported from Spain, and the towers from South Korea, brought in through the port of Kashima. They were transported to the site after midnight, using a specially designed trailer. The wind turbines were erected using a crawler crane with a lifting capacity of 450 metric tons, with which the 75-ton nacelles and 44-ton blades were installed.

These are not the same machines I wrote about in "Hasaki Power - Tilting At Windmills" back in 2005. Those are to our south in Hasaki (now part of Kamisu City).

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As I watched a fishing boat back up to the fuel depot, I noticed the top of Kashima Soccer Stadium (in the left of the picture) and realizing I would pass that on my way home, I had a long uphill ride ahead of me and best be on my way.

We humans have gotten into a bind with regard to resources and the environment and fighting over those resources. If we are careful and frugal we can work with each other and with nature toward a sustainable future, as with the fishery and the wind turbines. If not, we may go the way of many past civilizations - Sumeria, Greece, Rome, the Maya, even China for much of its history, Rapa Nui, Nauru (there is modern tragedy), to name a few. Civilizations that overshot the carrying capacity of their environmental systems, or simply destroyed them. Many of them just disappeared, perhaps while thinking that sacrifices to their gods would save them.

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I sometimes wonder about the ancients of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) and what they were thinking as they cut down the very last tree in order to move the last Moai (their great stone statues) into place.

We have our religion too: technology. We think it will save us, that we are smarter than those who came before us, that their fate can't happen to us. But technology is only a means to help us manage resources, not a substitute for them. We have amassed a great deal of knowledge through science, but the real question is, do we have the required wisdom? Frankly, our track record isn't so good.

So the answer, my friend, is still "flounder"-ing in the wind.

Joan Baez - 1963


Jessica Tivens, Soprano

I've been meaning to share this performance by soprano Jessica Tivens as Cherubino in Mozart's "Marriage of Figaro", singing "Voi che sapete".

Jessica Tivens is the daughter of my friend and fellow trombone player, Lynn Tivens, who I went to high school with (and his wife Debbi of course!). Lynn played trombone professionally, touring the USA with the group "The Gringos". (He is also is the Publisher/Editor of "The Full Cycle", Southern California’s first Online bicycle magazine.)

Jessica has performed in concert with Michael Crawford, Josh Groban, Davis Gaines and jazz pianist Mike Garson. She has performed solo in concerts on stages from Calabasas, California to Reykjavik, Iceland, from Madison Square Garden to Carnegie Hall.

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She has recently released a CD - Jessica Tivens Unlimited - which is available by clicking the title of this post or of the album. The CDBaby website will open in a new window where you'll be able to listen to sample clips of each song. The music is a crossover from classical to popular music. Mike Garson, the pianist/composer, perhaps most notable for his work with David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails, Billy Corgan and The Smashing Pumpkins, produced the album.

Jessica's official website, with more audio and video clips of her wonderful performances, is here: Jessica Tivens, Soprano.

Bravissimo!, Jessica, Bravissimo!


Danish to GO!

According to statistics collected by the VCOe (Traffic Club Austria), Denmark ranked highest in the average number of bicycle kilometers ridden per person in 2006. The average distance cycled was 954 kilometers (593 miles).

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Bicycling has not always been so popular in Denmark, but the oil embargo of the early 70's taught them a lesson as to what would happen if cheap, plentiful oil was no longer available. Other problems related to the use of cars were air pollution, parking problems, urban flight, and traffic gridlock. The government, city planners, and traffic engineers implemented bicycle friendly transportation policies which transformed the country, particularly its capital, Copenhagen.

Today, over 1/3 of Danish commuters ride a bicycle to work and many more, as in Japan, make the trip by a combination of bicycle and train. Denmark's goal is to have over 40% of commuters on bicycles.

EU Countries ranked as follows for bicycle use:

Denmark: 954 km
Netherlands: 879 km (look at them Gogh)
Belgium: 329 km
Germany: 298 km
Sweden: 277 km (Sweden's goal: to be fossil fuel free by 2020!)
Finland: 256 km (at least they didn't Finnish last)
Ireland: 186 km (green with envy)
Austria: 173 km
Italy: 159 km
Great Britain: 84 km
France: 81 km
Greece: 77 km
Luxembourg: 31 km
Portugal: 29 km
Spain: 27 km (cómo desconcierta)

I think it is interesting that the Scandinavian countries lead the world in bicycle transportation.

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A Japanese advertising print (Hikifuda) from 1920 showing modern forms of transportation.

States outside of the European Union:

Japan: 354 km
Switzerland: 287 km (hills are obviously no excuse!)
Norway: 164 km (they can a-fjord to do more)
The USA: 33 km (20.5 miles - come on America!)

However YOU get around, be safe out there.


I Blog, Therefore I'm Tagged

I don't usually do "tags", but since I was tagged by the Moody Minstrel who knows where I live and could easily run over my bicycle with his BLUE Toyota RAV 4, I will agree to do this one. My bad luck, it's a two parter. It is also kind of perverse, as you will see, in that it first asks you to imagine being marooned on an island and then to think about your favorite places to eat. Who came up with that combination, I wonder? Anyway..

Part One:

If I were to be marooned on an island, what five bloggers would I want to have there with me?

Lrong Lim - this university professor is fit enough to ride his bike 20 km to work, loves the ocean and is a good gardener and fisherman.

Bonnie - raised in Hawaii, sharp as a tack, knows how to grow food, sail, do kayak rolls and paddle through ice.

Snabulus - a voice of reason and logic (even if the voice uses 4 letter words at times). An outdoors guy and the kind of person I want in my corner in a pinch.

@Low@ - an adaptable, adventurous person who isn't afraid to pitch in when there's work to be done. Besides, I'd like to spend some time talking with him.

Hill Country Gal - any woman who spends an entire morning knocking 2 inches of ice off a dirt road with a claw hammer so her husband can get to work, I want on my team.

Somebody remember to bring Wilson.

On to Part 2:

1. Add a direct link to your post below the name of the person who tagged you.Include the state and country you’re in.

Nicole (Sydney, Australia)
velverse (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
LB (San Giovanni in Marignano, Italy)
Selba (Jakarta, Indonesia)
The Moody Minstrel (Namegata in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan)
Pandabonium (Kashima City, Ibaraki, Japan)

2. List out your top 5 favorite places to eat at your location.

For me this should read "List 5 places you eaten". We hardly ever eat at a restaurant. I could cheat and say "home" but I don't think that is the intent, so I'll list restaurants.

Wordsworth - ワーズワース - on Route 124 next to "WonderGoo"

Our favorite restaurant, which we have gone to many times, is Wordsworth. (Also a favorite of Moody and his wife). I wrote about this restaurant in the post Wordsworth, Pasta, and Daffodils. Excellent seafood, pasta dishes, deserts, and wines at very reasonable prices. The theme of the place is Wordsworth's poem "Daffodils". Nice atmosphere, Italian decor, friendly staff, good music - jazz via satellite.

Two others we've been to more than once are right across the street from each other on the street leading to the main entrance to Kashima Jingu (Shinto Shrine). They both specialize in soba (buckwheat noodles served hot or cold), which I like with vegetable and prawn tempura.

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This is よしのや (Yoshino-ya)

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This is つかさ (Tsukasa) - (and my personal transportation device which gets over 600 mpg).

The food is good at both places (K disagrees and much prefers Yoshinoya), the staff is little more friendly at Youshinoya (the woman who runs it is one of those typical exuberant, always smiling Japanese shop keeper types) but Tsukasa has a nicer interior.

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One nice thing about many Japanese restaurants, especially in tourist areas (the shrine draws bus-loads of tourists on holidays), is that they have plastic models of the food they serve with prices in the window, so you can see if they have what you want and if fits your budget before going in.

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Jonathan's <-(link)

Jonathan's is a family style restaurant chain we've eaten at a few times. Not a lot on the menu for me as most of their items include meat of some kind, but I have always found something, such as soup and salad, or pasta, or fish.

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Since it is a family restaurant, when they are busy it can be a bit noisy (but I find it fun to 'people watch' families sometimes). The food has always been good.

Little House

Even though it's a bit of a drive, we've been to "The Little House That Serves Homemade Dishes In The Woods" at "Pocket Garden DokiDoki" twice and love it. In fact I did two posts about it which you can find by simply entering the word "yummy" in the search box above. The restaurant is located at an organic farm, market and garden shop.

They treat you like family there and the food, which is all organically grown, is presented "Viking style" as they call it in Japan - self serve and all you can eat. Rather than a few big offerings, they have a wide selection in smaller amounts that is constantly kept fresh. Plenty to please vegetarians and carnivores alike. On certain nights they have live piano music.

So, there's my five. We've also had really excellent meals at the Kashima Central Hotel's Japanese restaurant, "Yamaguchiro", and the top floor continental style "Sky Restaurant Planete", but they are both too pricey for us to make regular visits (though very reasonable compared to Maui's hotel restaurants).

3. Tag 5 other people (preferably from other countries/states)[..and let them know they’ve been tagged]

I can see you all backing up and putting up your hands to say "no, not me". I feel your pain. Besides, I don't know five people who have time to do this sort of thing who haven't already been tagged. So any of you who want to do this, consider yourself tagged. And bon apetit.


Fiji Bloggers Meet

ROC on Loftus, April 19, 7:00 pm

Calling all Fiji bloggers to meet up at the Republic of Cappuccino on Victoria Parade and Loftus Street, Suva at 7:00 pm, Thursday, April 19, 2007. Drink coffee, be merry, and put a human face on your favorite Fiji blogs.

If you can make it, head over to Digital Fiji Weblog and let Thrashor know you are coming. You can email him: hammondthrasher at yahoo.com

Sounds like fun. Pandabonium can't make it, so I hope everyone who does will post a full report on what transpires. Of course, if someone wants to send me airfare, there's still time.


Tea For Two......Hundred

Please click on the pictures to enjoy the enlarged versions.

We returned to Shiroyama Koen, Kashima City, to see how the cherry trees looked a week after we first viewed them. During that time, they had blossomed fully and started to loose their petals, but were still a beautiful sight.

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The tea ladies pack up

This morning, some women demonstrated Japanese tea ceremony at the park, and served the first two hundred people to get there. We sort of dilly-dallied this morning and by the time we arrived, the tea ceremony was over. My fault really, as I was trying to get the post about the cyclone finished. Ah well. We enjoyed a tea ceremony demonstration last year at the Hanamatsuri celebration at Rokujizo Temple.

"Hana" (1900) by Hagoromo Takeshima and Rentaro Taki

Lyrics in English below

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There were a lot more people there today. The trees were full of blossoms, if a little past their peak, and occasionally a gust of wind would send flurries of petals fluttering down like snowflakes - "sakura fubuki" (cherry blosson blizzard).

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Petals fell on the path that goes around the edges of the park. People enjoyed their "hanami" (blossom viewing) picnics under the trees as traditional tunes played from speakers.

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Azaleas were starting to bloom. The park has wild mountain azaleas as well as other varieties which have been donated to the park.

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Along the road out of the park, we saw this beautiful flower on a vine, sakura petals on it's leaves. Cherry trees line the road and their blossoms are contrasted against a background of evergreens.

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No matter what my state of mind when I get to a park like this, o-hanami - blossom viewing - quiets my mind and gives me a deep sense of gratitude and joy at the coming of spring, the beauty of nature and of life. What a lovely tradition.

Hagoromo Takeshima and Rentaro Taki
translation by Greg Irwin

Near the river in the spring
Beautiful is the sight
Golden ripples glistening
In the April light
Have you seen the color green
That only spring can bring?
Have you heard a hummingbird
When it starts to sing?

How glad, spring has come over the Sumida,
Rowing up, rowing down in the warm sunbeams,
Drops from the boatmen's oars look like cherry blooms,
How can I describe for you the view o'er the streams?

Near the river in the spring
Beautiful is the dawn
Cherry trees are blossoming
Lovers on the lawn
Have you seen the willow tree?
Whose branches hang so low
Rustling in the shadows there
Of love's afterglow

Lo, see the cherry trees stand in morning mist,
I hear them speak to me in a tender tone,
In the eve I love to see the waving willows,
They stretch their hands to me strolling alone.

Near the river in the spring
Beautiful is the night
Stars are lighting up the sky
A crescent moon hangs oh so very bright
Nature sings and gently brings
This glorious rebirth
Near the river in the spring
Heaven here on Earth

Oh, see the hazy moon rising o'er the banks,
Rows of cherry trees standing o'er the streams,
How I love the cherry blossoms in the moonlight!
How can I describe for you the night like in a dream?

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Cyclone Cliff Hits Taveuni

If you are a reader of the blog "Babasiga" you know that Fiji has been have a rough rainy season, particularly in the "Babasiga" lands of Vanua Levu in the North which has been badly flooded.

A few days ago, Cyclone Cliff ripped through Fiji and this storm hit Taveuni as well. It is unusual for Taveuni to take a direct hit, perhaps once in a decade. But it does happen and it seems more frequently - climate change anyone? The good news on Taveuni is that there was no loss of human life. The bad news is mostly for farmers who lost entire crops of dalo, yanqona, and others.

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click to enlarge

I received a report and some pictures from my friend "A" who lives in Taveuni Estates, which is on Taveuni's northwest coast. I offer them here, edited a bit for clarity. I also will just use first initials of people mentioned rather than full names. My minor clarifications are in italics.

A's On the Scene Report:

Here are some pictures of the damage after cyclone "Cliff" made a direct hit on Taveuni. Weather satellite showed it right on top of Matei yet the center of the island such as Soqulu (Taveuni Estates) probably had the most damage. We had no warning at all from radio or television. Many people are criticizing the authorities.

Many Fijian homes were destroyed along with crops. No real damage to any of our homes (in the Estates) except the "M" home under construction which had about 7 sheets of metal peeled back.

Cyclone "Cliff" had sustained winds of 80 kilometres per hour gusting to 130 kph!

The "G" property had huge tree fall down its driveway but no damage to any buildings. Will take the caretaker weeks to get rid of all remains of tree and stump.

My driveway took 3 men and 3 chain saws nine hours solid to clear so cars could get in and out. It might take 3 months to get rid of all debris. 60% of my garden was flattened.

The Coast Road was blocked to traffic in about 10 places between Soqulu (the location of Taveuni Estates) and town. It was cleared in one day.

P's Villa only had a million coconuts lying on the ground with palm fronds that were picked up the next day. He did not lose one tree! Lucky guy.

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D's house. A huge tree fell and missed his car by 6 inches. I haven't bothered to tell D since there was no real damage to the property and to let him enjoy and focus on his trip in the US.

Everyone's boats are OK.

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Wairiki Bridge still blocked and flooding 3 days after storm. The bridge is in danger of breaking up as water is beginning to erode road surface. The person running is on the bridge - most of Taveuni's bridges have no railings.

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One of two huge raintrees to fall over my driveway. (Our white puppy was killed by passing Taxi next day).

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Second tree to fall over driveway took out my phone line. Took 3 men and 3 Chain Saws 9 hours to clear path to house.

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Walu Drive just past my house going to V's was totally blocked for 2 days. The whole estate has broken trees
and flattened areas like a tornado went through.

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One hour after the Cyclone "Cliff" passed over at 2:45PM Wednesday 4th April. Notice my house is now completely visible when once it was hidden by gardens and trees!