From Wynn - Our arrival in Fiji
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Sorry for the delay in blogging. It’s been a busy couple of days.
Jean, Alexi and I left San Francisco on New Year’s Eve after a hectic day of packing and preparation. We were to have a 3-hour layover in L.A., but it turned into a 5 ½ hour layover, due to the fact that the Air Pacific (Fijian) plane was way behind schedule. This was our first taste of what they call “Fijian Time” which we would get much more taste of once we got to the islands. Anyway, we had a nice dinner in Santa Monica, then rushed back to the airport to make it there by midnight for a New Year’s toast (our flight left at 1am). However once back at the airport, we realized everything was closed. So-no champagne toast. In fact, when the clock hit midnight, we were going through security. So we were standing there with our shoes off, with our bags in the x-ray machine, while the homeland security agents (wearing party hats!) counted down the new year. Strange.
It was a ten-hour flight, but is seemed more like 24. Jean had to stay awake because of her contact lenses, and she was totally exhausted by the time we landed. Alexi and I slept a bit. Finally, we landed in Fiji, and as we walked off the plane the heat and humidity hit us. We were definitely in the tropics!
We spent the first day in Nadi (pronounced “Nandi”) at a little beach hotel, resting and relaxing and went to bed early. Our first impression of the Fijians--friendly (as Smith already noted, every Fijian you walk by greets you with a hearty “Bula!”), and slow-paced (don’t expect timely service anywhere-they all operate on “Fijian Time”).
When we woke up yesterday it was pouring rain. It hasn’t stopped since. And we are on the “dry side” of the island! Anyway, rain or no rain, we started out early, squeezing into our little rent-a-car with all our bags and equipment. The car is too small and we will be upgrading to a larger vehicle today. But yesterday we all squeezed in, with Smith in the back seat with the video camera shooting, and Jean mic’ed and being recorded as we drove to our next destination. I was driving, and it was a little difficult at first getting used to driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road (sorry Brits!). Also, operating a stick shift with my left hand took a little getting used to. But I have picked it up quickly.
We did get a significant amount of shooting done, despite the rain. The memories are coming back to Jean, and I can tell how significant this trip is for her. Incidentally, she has already run into members of a family that she knew from her childhood. I imagine she will meet more people from the past as we continue to travel the island.
Anyway, today we are staying at the beautiful Outrigger Resort near Sigatoka. The whole complex is made up of connected Bures (thatched huts) and fronts a lagoon on the ocean. Saw a blue starfish and participated in my first cava ceremony. Cava is the traditional drink made from bitter roots that they use to welcome visitors in native Fijian villages. It was very interesting. I will send pictures.
Got to go know, time for breakfast. Will blog again soon.
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