Hello Again

Trip Start Aug 24, 2004
Trip End May 09, 2005

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Flag of United States  , Wisconsin
Tuesday, May 10, 2005

That's right, I'm back. My first Johnny V's meal and dose of Conan (so missed, Rove is an Aussie rip off) have welcomed me. But first, Fiji:

Day 1 (see last entry)
Day 2 Transfered from Denerau to South Sea Island. When I got there I met Jay and we started talking as we walked around the island (which takes a total of two minutes). He asked where I was from and I said, "Milwaukee", to which he got quite excited. Turns out his English accent only comes from after he moved from Milwaukee where he was born. Since he had never run into anyone from Milwaukee (outside of Milwaukee) before we got on pretty well. It was good to talk to someone about Summerfest or just random things. About ten minutes after arriving we headed out to the yellow submarine to view some of the coral. It was like snorkelling without getting wet (and damaging the coral reef). After getting back we headed out on a snorkelling trip. It took me a good two minutes to get used to looking down and breathing in the water, but once I focused and slowed my breathing it was really great. Some of the Americans were a bit annoying since they were looking for "Nemo" as if animated films are rooted in reality (ie fish talk, etc.).
That night I met Alex from New York and somehow after music we got into politics and he asked if I was reading anything. I told him I was half way through Understanding Power, a book of edited speeches and teach ins given by Noam Chomsky. Immediately we started talking about tons of little points and it seems we see eye to eye on a lot of things.
Day 3 (April 28th) Alex, Jay, and I headed out to Seaspray an old sailing boat to head to a village to get permission to check out Castaway Island where the film starring Tom Hanks (don't forget Wilson) was shot. The actual purpose I believe was to have a bunch of tourists buy a bunch of stuff from the villagers. Regardless, we did it and I had my first experience with kava. Some people call it muddy water, but I didn't mind it too much. After we got back on Seaspray we headed to Castaway Island for about an hour. I forgot to mention Chris, an English guy we met on South Sea. We met with him again on Seaspray and he had the unfortunate luck to get gout on Beachcomber. Anyway we made it to Castaway and instead of asking, Chris, Jay, and I figured we could find Tom Hanks' cave on our own. Instead we just found a bunch of garbage and plastic bottles. Quite a dirty island. By the time we did ask where the cave was, we didn't have time to check it out. We headed back to Seaspray and then to South Sea via the Yasawa Flyer. Alex and I planned a revolution, sometime this summer if we get around to it.
Day 4 (April 29th) I left South Sea Island for Kuata in the morning. The island had mixed reviews from people I talked to. On arrival the island was obviously much bigger than South Sea. The food was also pretty crappy, whereas South Sea had a nice buffet. At night ate dinner with a couple of English girls and American guys. We played card games and then later I met Joe and Josh, a couple of Fijian guys working on the island. Later I met Heidi and Amelia (sp?) from Norway who were really cool.
Day 5 (April 30th) Another average day on Kuata just reading and laying in hammocks. Hung out at night with the Norwegian girls.
Day 6 (May 1st) I left Kuata for Long Beach Resort via the Yasawa Flyer. I left the Mamanuca group to the Yasawas where Long Beach was located. When we pulled up, the little transfer boat (every island has one, small boat with outboard motor) asked if the three of us wanted to go to Sunawai. I didn't have a clue what was going on so I went along. Turns out that Long Beach was closed (even though I was booked) to clean out the septic tanks. This happened to be the greatest accident. I came in with Andray from Germany and Dinah from Northern Ireland. I forget exactly what Andray does, but Dinah is a doctor working with cancer in Christchurch, NZ. On arrival we found that the resort was only about six weeks old. The first night we had ten people which was a great group. I played Last Card with Ellen, Julian, Peggy, and Chris after an amazing dinner on the beach. During dinner we saw a shooting star which lasted longer than an other I'd ever seen. Some people thought it was a firework, but the Fijians confirmed it was a shooting star.
Day 7 (May 2nd) My second day on Sunawai was spent snorkelling and watching one of the Fijians spear fish. He had me hold the fish and as I was I thought, "Yeah, get the dumb tourist to hold the bleeding fish". Just after I handed them back I did see a shark, but white tips are pretty harmless. I also was told to watch out for venomous sea snakes, but I never ran into any. I continued snorkelling on my own later and developed one bright sun burn. That night, Ellen, Bill, Andray, Dinah, and I had some really good conversations, mostly revolving around what we do/want to do. Ellen and Bill just finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Johnny Depp, but they met on Alexander. Bill was really fun to talk to since he's met Stanley Kubrick when he worked on Eyes Wide Shut and Steven Speilberg on Band of Brothers. I won't get into the specific conversations, but it made for a good night.
Day 8 (May 3rd) A sad morning since we said goodbye. I was heading to Sunrise on Nanuya Lailai and not necessarily looking forward to it. By then I had learned that I like the small islands because you meet everyone. Nanuya Lailai has about four resorts. When I arrived we had a noodles with heavy garlic flavoring. This was far from the amazing food I had every meal at Sunawai.
Day 9 (May 4th) A cave trip at 9:00 AM turned out to be a lot more fun that I anticipated. The cave is supposedly haunted by an old Fijian god, but only when Fijians are alone. We swam through the caves getting bitten, but had a good time. Everything else was pretty routine, eating and reading in a hammock.
Day 10 (May 5th) In the morning I walked out to Blue Lagoon (where the movie was shot). The beach isn't that impressive since the coral is all dead. Some Americans and English people I met were already there and this is where the American guy (reminiscent of Stiffler) earned a nickname I coined, Cucumber Man (because of his awe of the sea cucumbers in the coral). From there I transferred down to Manta Ray Bay where the Wanna Taki Cruise was. I boarded to meet six English guys who were travelling together. A few other people boarded and that night I had a pretty big kava session which I stretched to 2:30 AM when I fell into a coma like sleep. Many couldn't believe I like the stuff, but it really isn't that bad to me.
Day 11 (May 6th) No one but Ian (an 80 year old Kiwi) was up for breakfast, including the staff. This day I was quite inactive. We played a bit of beach volleyball and I finally took the jump off of the top deck of the boat. Beyond that it was a quiet one, partially killed by the rugby game the staff watched. I went to sleep in the nice AC below deck.
Day 12 (May 7th) The group of English guys left and the boat was noticeably quieter. I decided to liven things up with a couple Kiwi guys when the Yasawa Flyer came by for its two stops. This simply involved us screaming and jumping off the boat which probably looks more insane when viewed from another boat. I think it had a good effect and we had fun doing it.
Day 13 (May 8th) After trying to spot manta rays in Manta Ray Bay, I left the Wanna Taki cruise and headed for Nadi (pronounced Nandy). On the boat I met people from almost all of the places I had been and found out that the English guys were staying at the Nomads Sky Lodge near the airport. This place turned out to be amazing and I ate dinner with the guys before saying goodnight and goodbye.
Day 14 (May 9th) I woke up at 5:00 AM and flew to Auckland at 8:00, making it to Auckland around 11:00. After a huge mix up which left me without a ride back to the airport I finally made it back via the shuttle service that should've gotten me back a few hours before (they said 10-15 minutes, ha). Regardless, I got my luggage out of storage and headed through customs. We flew out at 5:00 PM on a flight I was looking forward to. I ate and watched Hide and Seek and Coach Carter before going to sleep. When I woke up it was still May 9th, except 11:00 AM (since we crossed the date line). I awoke to the call to fasten seat belts for landing and realized that I slept through a meal and needed a customs sheet. The flight attendant told me that they tried to wake me. I laughed when he asked if I had taken sleeping pills. LAX went smoothly except for getting selected for the random search and having to repack my small backpack. Although seven hours in the airport wasn't great, I managed to sleep most of the flight to Milwaukee.
Expect maybe one more entry and many pictures. It's good to be home
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