A Day Makes a Difference

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Well, when I last wrote, I was telling you all about my first day in Fiji and the experiences that it held for me. Everything seemed to be going swimmingly for me, in spite of the fact that I had minimal sleep in the first 24 hours. Day two broke early for me, and I took a stroll around the hostel in the early morning light, after heavy evening showers. I felt pretty good, having finally gotten a night’s sleep, and was looking forward to hitting the Islands that were the main part of my Fiji adventure. On my stroll, I happened across the marine forecast to Fiji. Uh-oh. Cyclone warning. Cyclone Daman in particular, the first such storm hitting Fiji for the 07-08 storm season, which had just begun. The forecast called for rain for the next few days. However, as I would soon find out, that was just the beginning of my troubles for day 2. Read on for exciting news from days 2 and 3.

The first bad sign was that Stephanie, our Swedish roommate, had come down with a sickness of sorts. She had been ill since early in the morning, which worried Andrew and I, since we’d pretty much all eaten the same things the day before. However, I felt fine so far. After getting my things organized, I went down for my included breakfast. It wasn’t too spectacular, consisting primarily of toast and orange juice. I had plenty of both, and would see them again later in my trip ;-(

Before boarding the bus for the marina, I’d hoped to get news about whether or not my bike had arrived at the airport, but ran out of time to make the phone call. The tour organizers said they could place the call from the boat, so we’d look into it later. Fair enough. I also had a stroke of genius while standing in the grocery store. I convinced the store manager to allow me to swap 3 of my now-warm beers for some ice cold ones. Man I’m smart! I also took some cash out of the ATM, after learning that the little islands are cash-only, and that I’d probably need money for overpriced water and beers.

Andrew and I boarded the boat, but he got off shortly after the ride started, as his tour dropped him off at one of the first Islands, whereas I was heading to the far north Islands, where the movie the Blue Lagoon was shot. Of course, the far north also coincided quite nicely with where the cyclone was. I noticed a headline in a newspaper which stated that the cyclone danger had passed. Nice. I started to question that however, as the ocean was getting rougher and rougher as we kept going. Before long, people were starting to look a little green around the gills. I was sure that it wouldn’t afflict me, as I grew up on the ocean, right? Well, I spoke too soon to myself, because I soon started feeling a little crappy myself. However, I don’t think it was motion sickness, because it was a general malaise.

Eventually, I bottomed out at some point where the swells were about 10 feet high. I just made it to a head in time to expel the contents of my stomach, the very same toast and orange juice that I’d enjoyed earlier. Yuck. I immediately felt better however, and was sure that I’d make a speedy recovery after that. All told, the boat ride to get to my resort shuttle was over 5 hours in length, and boy did I want to get off by the end. Finally, it was time to board the shuttle boat to the island I was staying on. That in itself was a mild adventure too, with the swells making the 15 minute ride feel pretty dramatic.

Back on dry land, our Fijian host family were ready to serve us a late lunch. Unfortunately, I was totally unprepared to eat, as my malaise had gotten even worse. I headed straight to the washroom as soon as they mentioned where it was. Our main host was a gay Fijian by the name of Queen. Quite entertaining. After the meal time, I retreated to my sea-side Bure, located all of 3 feet from the ocean. Boy was it windy and loud. Apparently on our side of the island, it’s always windy. Queen popped in on me later to give me a hot cup of water with ginger root to try and get me on the mend. I could barely move, but promised to drink it all. And I did, eventually. My two other bunkmates opted to nap the afternoon and early evening away as well.

We were roused for supper once again by Queen who said everyone was waiting for us. I felt a little bit better, so decided it best to try and force some food and liquids into me, even though they weren’t quite staying down. After the meal, we had a little bit of entertainment when there was a national anthem singing contest by all the guests. As luck would have it, my bure, consisting of 3 Canadians, won the contest, and got a prize of a sleeve of Oreos and tin of peanuts, which we shared with everyone. After that, people just sort of milled about in the main hall chatting, playing cards, and drinking beers and water.

Conversation eventually turned to the weather, where we discovered that we were in fact in the path of the cyclone after all, and that it would likely hit between midnight and 3 am, if it would hit at all. Some guests were quite concerned, but by looking at the Fijians attitude towards it, I decided it shouldn’t be a big deal. It would likely consist of a great deal of wind and rain, but nothing too dangerous. Of course, being literally a few feet from the ocean swells wasn’t too reassuring. I made my way to bed by about 9:30pm. Before turning in, I made sure to pack up all my things, in case we had to be herded into the safest structure in our area, which was the plan in case things went bad. One of the resort guys was going to stay up and monitor the conditions as they progressed.

My roommates had opted to stay up and get drunk with a few Scottish lads, and they came back quite a bit later, and quite a bit more merry. I guess that’s one way to prepare. It was amazing how much the wind was howling and the rain pelted us all night. There were definitely a few tense moments, but for the most part, I slept through it. When I awoke at 6am, the sea was still in turmoil, the rain coming down, and the wind howling. But it had definitly abated somewhat. So, I decided a swim was in order!

And what a warm swim it was. I was amazed. I’d decided to wear only my swimsuit for the next couple days, as I’d just be wet most of the time anyway. So I ran around wearing only my shorts and toting my camera. It was great. No one else was really up anyway, and I couldn’t get to sleep again anyway. Queen eventually came to the shoreline, and took a video of the crazy Canadian with his mobile phone. Yup, even out here, they have coverage! Once I got tired of that, I headed back to the bure, and got the other two guys up in time for breakfast. On the other side of our bure were a couple ladies from the Farroah Islands as well, and the group of us decided to head over to the blue lagoon after the meal, since it was low tide. At high tide, you have to cut through the island on a very muddy path, but at low tide, you can just follow the shoreline.

We gathered up some snorkel gear, and another girl from England, and started the trek. It took about 30 minutes, and we were amazed at how dead calm it was on the other side of the island. As I write this, the wind is still blowing fierce on our side of the island, but at the lagoon, it’s as calm as calm can be. Once over there, we swam out and snorkelled in the waters, and it was great. I was amazed at just how many little corals there were, and the abundance of fish. They were everywhere, and not the least bit concerned about us either. We probably spent a good hour and a half there, and I snapped some pictures underwater with my camera as well. A great little (free) excursion. We trudged back just in time for lunch.

I’ve since had another little nap, and am now just killing time in the afternoon. The weather still isn’t much to brag about, so most people are sticking to their dorms or bures. I don’t mind one bit though, since it’s still a sight better than shovelling snow. Hee hee. I spend one more night out here, then move on to another island, and spend two nights on a boat. Should be interesting. Hopefully the sea dies down a bit. I’m not sure when any of you will get to read these posts. I have a feeling it won’t be until I’m in NZ. Either way, hope everyone is doing great!

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