Jean Michel Cousteau Resort, Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands
This is about a short day I don't recall and a long, long day I remember too well.
Saturday first. Last dives. Then we'll talk about Sunday.
I wasn't really planning to dive but I can't stop.
The only thing really memorable about them was that I got to dive with Dean one last time, and Dean's a good guy (He's local, Berkely, I'm hoping to stay in touch), and another dive with that yummy little teenager Kellen.
Yesterday's storms blew most everything out; the dives with ok. But I can't leave off.
I didn't run deep, but still, flying the day after, I did a very long deco, partly because the last dive was The Last Dive , always a sad moment on each trip. I want to hear Jaque Cousteau's voice intoning something about bidding goodbye (Or was it adieu) to the depths until next time.
I honestly don't recall the rest of the day. Relaxation, too many drinks. I wanted to write but couldn't.
Sunday. This day will go on for a long time.
Packing. How'd we wind up with twice as much to take home? It's not like we shopped. There's no shopping to speak of here. I bought a couple of sulus, I was given a t-shirt and we traded a dive slate for a hat. That's about it. But still, packing, packing, packing.
And then it was goodbyes.
God. I'll miss the damned staff here. Nemiah, Vani, Bait, Zim, Pete (That's Pet-Ay), Jope, Simi. So many more Fijians with names I can't recall now. These people are so damned nice.
We left after lunch, to music and hugs from the staff. Incredibly warm people, I want to stay.
We had a long layover in Nadi. It's a funny town. Almost everything closed down on sunday but the tour company had arrached a driver to take us shopping and give us a tour of the town, which was another third-world adventure for my kids.
We bought a few things - a kava bowl, a couple other local handicrafts. Not much. I almost lost my head and spent way too much on a beautiful carving of a mermaid, sea turtle and octopus in a a tangled embrace that might have been sexual and might have been a battle. Now, I wish I'd bought it but it was too much money, too heavy to carry, and too much to ship. Still, I should have bought it. I got another sulu, I like these things
Five hours to kill. The shopping helped. So did a trip to McDonald's which the driver described as "The American embassy"; the signs said "Bula!" and "Vinaka!" instead of "Welcome" and "Thanks" or whatever they have here.
And then back to the airport, where we were able to use the tour company's loung to kill three hours instead of waiting in teh terminal, and were we had an incredibly surreal time playing cards with a pretty, pretty Indo-Fijian girl names Nisha, a 22 year old middle child of nine who seemed to decide she was my kids big sister and we were surrogate parents, and who teashed my girls mercilessly, which they seemed to love; "Why you so stupid? Mom got to tell you everything three times! You so stupid! But I love you."
I wish we'd taken her picture. She was so odd, and so pretty.
Ten and a half hours. That's a long time. Travel time so far -- nine hours. Now the plane. It's full, and I'm seated in a row with an entire sick family. It's ten pm.
I slept. Again, more than usual. But it was a long, long, uncomfortable ride, more so for having people coughing and sneezing next to me the whole way.
Man, 'Cat in the Hat' is a horrible movie. Who the hell was responsible for green-lighting this thing?
I wanted to drink. I try not to it always makes flying worse.
LAX. Travel time so far -- almost twenty hours. And I won't hear anyone say "Bula" anymore.
Immigrations and customs went by pretty easily. Hell, don't they know I'm a menace? Just because I have cute kids doesn't mean you should slack off.
We tried to get an earlier flight home; but it's business travel sunday LAX - SJC. No go. But there's a starbucks here, and damn, do I need coffee.
I turn on my phone and have voice mail. The soap opera that awaits me. I'm everyone's daddy. Which is ok.
Our flight's been delayed. Travel time so far: Hell, I don't know. About twenty-three hours and another couple to go.
And home. Flight almost an hour late, but it's not bad at the SJC. Back where this started. My back -- this never happens -- is first off the carousel. The in-laws here to pick us up, typically having trouble with following the instructions for where to meet us, but bless them anyway, they don't mind stopping for chinese on the way home. It's been a while since we've had decent food.
Travel time - I think we're over twenty-six hours now. The kids are still smiling.
I'm tired and can't sleep. I don't want to check my email. I don't want to log into orkut. I don't want to know about the soap opera yet. There's time for that tomorrow.
But you know, it's nice to have people back home waiting to talk to me.