Day 9, Tuesday, Feb 8, Lautoka, Casual

Trip Start Jan 26, 2011
Trip End Feb 13, 2011

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Flag of Fiji  , Viti Levu,
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The day started out with perfect weather.  Keith was the only one in the fitness center when I went up there today, and my 5 miles ended about 7.  The knee doesn't look a bit better but feels at least 99%.  We actually ran later than planned getting to Lautoka and were just pulling up at the dock as my tour departure time arrived.

Lautoka is the second largest city in Fiji and has a population of 44,000.  The primary tourist city, Nadi, with the international airport is about 10 miles away.  Fiji is both an agricultural country and tourist destination.  Primary crops are sugar and rum.  The residents are primarily Christian but there are a number of Muslims and Hindus as well.

My "tour" is part of Crystal's new "We Care, You Care" program where one shore excursion on each sailing is centered on local volunteer work.  There were a total of 6 of us including Mary, the ship's escort, Novelest Kathy Reichs and her husband, and 3 other passengers.  We were met by a van for the 40-minute drive to the Treasure House orphanage, originally founded by the Assembly of God but now an independent charity.  They do have an adoption process but it's a bit complicated with approximately 1 child per month being adopted.  They now have 21 children ranging from newborns to age 18.  "We Care, You Care" is a great idea but still suffering from some startup pains.  We hit a bit of a snag when we learned the ship was supposed to supply us with paint and brushes but that word had not reached the tour organizers.  A quick trip to the hardware story by Mary resolved that problem and we did make a difference but could have done more under better circumstances.  We did complete painting of a badly worn floor in an area where the children dine; if things had gone smoother there is a fence which could have used our touch but I think we did end up making a difference. 

When we had finished our painting our driver took us briefly around the sights of Nadi including elegant resorts, a beautiful Hindu Temple, and a short shopping stop.  We returned to the ship in early afternoon. 

After lunch I took the shuttle into central Lautoka where there did not seem to be a lot of interest and walked back about a mile to the ship.

This evening there is a special event with dinner for those guests on the full World Cruise so there was open seating in the Crystal dining room for the rest of us.  I opted instead for an early dinner at the Trident Grill, something I've long wanted to do.

Tonight's entertainment is a repeat performance by comedy pianist Dale Gonyea, featuring some great musical tributes to Roratonga amd it’s tender rides and visiting Nuku’alofa on a Sunday.

Today's parting shot is a double header.  It is fairly rare that while cruising on a super luxury cruise ship there is a chance to really make the world a better place.  While some fine tuning is needed I am very pleased that Crystal is making this possible and that other cruise lines are helping out in other ways (e.g. Cunard and Prince's Trust, HAL breast cancer walks).  These are wonderful feature's I am very glad to see cruise lines providing.

The second half goes back to a parting shot from last October in the Mediterranean:

[QUOTE]Today’s parting shot looks back to another, much different, summer trip I made in 2009.  I spent a week at the BSA’s Philmont Training Center in Cimarron, NM.  I traveled to New Mexico with a contingent of my Troop’s scouts headed out on a trek, camping with them one night, taking day hikes, and sharing some pre-trek events with them at the Philmont base camp.  I explored Santa Fe with 6 of these scouts and 2 of their parents.  On Sunday evening (1am Monday my time) one of those six will be recognized as an Eagle Scout.  While I look forward eagerly to Alexandria, a part of my heart will be back in Maryland.  I will miss the ceremony but was fortunate to be part of this outstanding young man's review panel that confirmed his worthiness for the award. Best wishes, Michael.  Congratulations, and well done!

Mr. Ferguson

I have just gotten word that 2 more of the young men I explored Santa Fe with have just been confirmed as new Eagle Scouts.  Best wishes and congratulations, David and William.

Mr. Ferguson
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