(Fijian for aloha) we could finally exhale.
The Thursday night flight only took 10 hours, but we skipped a day in the process and landed at dawn Sunday to a warm tropical land. As psyched as we were to get there all we could do was sleep. We figure we managed about 12 hours rest in the previous 72 so we knocked out for about 20 hours upon arrival! Come dawn on Sunday though we were ready to rock! Closest thing we could fiind to a full bore rocknroll experience was chuch. No lie! Deb hooked it up with Ray, a retiree from Kansas. He fell right away for Deb's sweetness and the fact that her mom and dad are fellow Kansans too. Church was an open-air electric gospel fest all in Fijian. Didn't understand a word, but it was a peaceful way to start the day.
In that ecumenical spirit we visited the local Hindu temple that afternoon. There's a big Indian population in Fiji going back a century or more when they were brought in as indentured servants to work the cane fields.
The most recent import we met was Remi who likewise took a shine to Ms. U! He gave us a tour of the temple and turns out he's a '77 grad of Hillsdale High in Burlingame (pounds to Marty and Digger who happen to work at same school presently!) He took this gig after being deported for selling pot a few years back. He gave us a few tips on chakras and levels of consciousness although he was unclear if his own insight derived from meditation or too much acid when he was younger. Needless to say shuffling around the temple barefoot and chatting up the gringos was just the right speed for this dude.
Next day we truly arrive in tropical paradise. We hopped a sleek catamaran for the Yasawa islands just off of the west coast. Lots of slow living, snorkelling, and sweat awaited. First stop was in some ways the best. We stayed in the village of Yalobi on the island of Waya (for those of you consulting you atlas). Our hostess was a sweet woman named Merrie who made us feel right at home. She thought might Mitch was smokin'. He prompty became Mitchy for the rest of the stay (as in "Oh Mitchy, would you like some tea?" - even at 80 F and 90% humidity how could he say no).
We were in the middle of a 300 person village to the west and 100+ student boarding school to the east! We arrived on the first day of the fall semester (irony anyone?) for crying out loud! We moved slowly, if at all. The villagers likewise, but with each passing musically contented greetings of bula, bula were always exchanged. We took a stroll through the village and promptly hired on a 12 year old child of indeterminate gender named Kini to give us a tour.
We saw houses and hammocks and said bula
a lot. We gathered a few more kids to give us the rounds, made a pass through the local corner store where Deb purchased some peanuts and lollipops to pass along and took our fair share of photos. After a dinner of fresh fish and veg curry we watched moms and kids collect crabs by flashlight for the next days fishing. Our virgin snorkel commenced at dawn before porrige and more hammocking. Final hugs and bulas
from Merrie cast us off by boat to our next beachside idle.
Alright, we are truly rolling with the story now. Last off we hadn't even left northern California. Once we closed up our house we spent a night in Campbell (Deb's folks), 6 hours on the road south, with a short stop in Claremont (Mitch's folks) before hitting LAX. Our parents were most gracious and patient as we slammed through both ports of call in a blaze of packing, repacking, and jibberish. Sometime around midnite our flight took off and