I had been to Taveuni once before in my life so I wasn’t a stranger to this vibrant island. My first trip was towards Lavena which is located on the eastern coast of the island. This time around I was travelling to the heart of Taveuni – Des Voeux Peak. Des Voeux Peak is the 2nd highest point on Taveuni and is located approximately 1,200m above mean sea level.
During this trip I was accompanied by the enthusiastic Lorin Tuilakepa and the energetic Tomu Nakanacagi. We arrived in Taveuni at around midday on Tuesday, 1st September, 2020. A representative of Telecom Fiji Limited (TFL) picked us up from the airport and took us to our accommodation. We stayed at the ‘Taveuni Dateline Hotel’ during this trip. Our mission was to conduct geotechnical investigation works at Des Voeux Peak. As soon as we arrived at our accommodation, we settled in, had our lunch and made our way towards site. It took us approximately 1 hour to drive from our accommodation, which was located within the town centre, to our destination. It was bright and sunny when we reached Des Voeux Peak. Upon arrival we identified the test locations and setup our equipment. We were able to complete testing at one location during that afternoon. Coming downhill was quicker and we were able to reach our accommodation within 45 minutes.
Our routine for the next 3 days as similar. We would wake up at 5:30am, have our breakfast at the hotel at 6:30am and leave the hotel for site at 7:00am. The major difference between the first day and the remaining 3 days was rain and wind. The weather was peculiar because it used to be sunny at the coastal level but as soon as we approached Des Voeux Peak, we would encounter drizzle or rain and high winds. From the second day onwards our working conditions became challenging. We got wet as soon as we started setting up our equipment for testing. The rain was relentless and as a result we were wet all throughout the day. The rain was not the major issue though. It was the combination of rain and wind which made life difficult. Our bodies were cold and the tips of our fingers and toes were numb. It felt like we were doing geotechnical investigation works in Antarctica! However, the cold did not stop us from marching on with our work. In order to beat the cold, we tried not to stay stationary. It was only during lunch that we used to enter the Generator Shed to seek refuge from the rain and the wind. We arrived at Taveuni with high spirits and we braved the unexpected weather conditions with even higher energy levels to complete the required testing by the morning of Friday, 4th September, 2020.
I shall never forget this special trip to Taveuni. Our camaraderie was on display when working conditions got tough. If given another opportunity, I would do it all over again!
Author: Krishmal Dutt