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Saturday, May 17, 2003

We just returned from Toberua and I just finished writing the report ...

While still in New York we received an email from our friend / Toberua Dive Person that her last weekend on the island is coming up and that she would love to dive with all her Suva dive pals one more time ... after securing that we would get 'our' bure #9 again, we signed up :) That would be our 4th weekend trip to that little island just 90 minutes away from Suva. So on friday we set off by taxi to catch the boat at Nakelo landing at 6 PM ... It seems fiji too experiences shorter days in winter ... for the first time we did our 6 Pm boat ride to the island in the dark, It was very beautiful. We were welcome like family and were happy to have our bure 'wakaia' again.

When I checked out the bar area, I noticed some familiar faces: Angela and Jochen (this time with kids) we met on the valentines weekend and Don & Evelyn were having their daughter's here last time ... we all sat around a table and had a nice chat .. mainly about expat lives in fiji.

Also new was that we had our dinner not in the restaurant area, but the terrace in front of the bar-bure ... very nice with candle light right at the water front:

Paw Paw Gazpacho or Salad with Crab Meat
Opaka (fish) Filet on Smoked Marlin with Veggies,
Crepes with Coconut Icecream

After this we were so tired that we went straight to bed ... As far as I can recall, I fell asleep with my clothes still on and contact lenses in ...


Breakfast, then getting ready for diving: One tank dive with Rachel's successor Sandra. First I noticed that I forgot my booties (shoes to be worn with my fins) So sandra got me other fins my size. Then I noticed that my mouthpiece was wrong (while being serviced in NY, the service person re-attached it the wrong way) ... and on the way down one of my contact lenses popped out. The dive was thus a bit stressful, the smaller fins felt very funny, the viz was already bad, now I could see it with only one eye, and I seemed to hog air like crazy. Allegedly we saw a turtle ... The dive was relatively short with 42 minutes, but that was ok ...

Return, Lunch: Corn/Crab fritter with some avocado salad and thai spice sauce, followed by a sesame-chicken kebab with rice and desert was vanilla ice over some fruit caramel custard ... The kids on the neighbor table used their ice-cream to turn their coca cola into a muddy looking drink which they called a "Spider" ... hmm

Very lazy afternoon, no diving ... Ritsu took a big nap .. I explored the island, started reading Michael Moore's "Stupid White Men" and watched some TV shows on my TiBook .

Around 6PM the usual suspects congregated at the bar and we just chatted some more ... We had never seen the island so crowded actually. Besides us Suva people (there was also a USP prof by the name of Spike with his family) there was a group of 4, probably from the US .. and then a group of 6 or 8 .. celebrating some anniversary ...

Dinner was set up again at the bar terrace, and curiously enough, there was no prior menu selection, which ususally means it is BBQ night :) There was one big table set up for the Rachel farewell party. And around 8 we started sitting down and going for the appetizer buffet: Fijian dishes like Fish in Lolo, Kokoda, Palusami, Duruka (supposed to be some kind of fijian asparagus, but also related to sugar cane .. ) Dalo, lots of veggies .. and Lobster Tails !!! And darn were they good !!! I could not hold back, I just had to get a second helping :)

The chef (who looks a bit like LL Cool J in "Deep Blue Sea", but the name keeps escaping me) worked the BBQ and did some great beef, sausages and chicken ... After all the lobster I had only space for a bit of beef .. but that was just great ... hmm .. there was some desert i guess .. but more fun were all the cakes that suddenly showed up .. the table of 4 was having a birthday ... so, of course, we all sing "happy birthday" .. the table of 6 gets an anniversary song (which I had never even heard of before) and while they already started to bring Rachel to tears early on with songs like "Leaving on a Jet Plane", they brought her a very fancy cake, decorated with a cream covered set of mask and snorkel. (Which we later tried to make Rachel put on ... but she resisted fiercly)

Big cheers and then speech first by Vern, the owner (who me had met already last time) and the Rachel, who took us as an example that we would only come if we got our favorite bure, as to what kind of friends she has. It was all very high on emotion .. but was lightened up considerably when Zac, one of the musicians, started snake line dancing (well .. not sure what it is called in other parts on the world ... but you just grab the shoulders of the person in front of you [the SHOULDERS !!!] and follow rythmically ... Most of that happened just around the table, but when it was my turn to lead, I just walked them all down to the beach :) So the night went on .. but we got tired soon and went to bed (well, Ritsu actually ended up falling asleep on the outside swing) ...

I heard later that the festivities continued well after 2 AM


Not a very sunny day this time, and the wind coming from the other side ... after breakfast it even started to rain ... The one tank dive was delayed in favor of sleeping a bit longer ... once on the dive boat we nearly forgot our 5th diver .. the sea was the roughest I have seen so far in Toberua, but we managed ... We went to "The Playground" again and it was a much nicer dive than the day before ... The visibility was not that great, but we ran into a couple of sharks (actually I think it was the same shark several times over) and saw quite some stuff ... after the dive it was tricky to get back on the boat in those rough seas (and being so close to the reef, higher waves there) but all worked out and we returned to the island just in time for lunch which was a potato/shrimp croquette, Ritsu then had Spaghetti Bolognese while I had a salad with Walu (local fish) and again some fatfree / non calorie desert afterwards ... Ritsu had a massage after lunch while I finally washed that salt water off my skin and just continued reading ... then it was already time to pack and hop on the boat to get back to Suva ... Well, not before taking one last group photo with Rachel and Sandra.

Again a wonderful trip, and we already know we will go back in about a month to celebrate our first anniversary.

Oh, I just found this interesting article on the cute Toberua seas snakes, which we saw again ... while they DO have a deadly poison, they do NOT use it for defense, they do not bite humans .. unless you really really piss them off ... They are quite beautiful and you can actually touch them (but should not)

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Thursday, May 15, 2003

Yesterday was cleaning day #2, nothing special to report there .. the Gardener was supposed to come, too , but did not.

In the evening I picked Ritsu up from work and we went to see X2: X-Men united ... and she liked it quite some ... though it may be a bit confusing at times (I felt that way the first time I saw it) ... the movie theater was chilled down to be used as a fridge I think .. was a bit uncomfortable ...

We will be gone over the weekend .. so, next update, so fiji online connection will, on monday

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Wednesday, May 14, 2003

So, what has been goin on the first 2 days back in Fiji? How is the weather?

Well .. it is supposed to cool down and get less rainy.. but the only change I have noticed is that it is more cloudy ... still hot and humid ... but harder to hang stuff out for drying ...

Tuesday was mainly unpacking and lunch at Ashiyana with Edo and Ritsu ... I also said hi to some friends at a computer place where I could quickly check email. For Dinner Ritsu made Miso-Soup (since we found great fresh Tofu at Cost-U-Less) and had some other japanese stuff, while I was holding back a bit ... my appetite seems to be jetlagged ...

Wednesday was clean up day #1: After driving Ritsu to work, both Marama (cleaning lady) and Lai (Gardener) showed up and we 3 had a busy day ... The simple sounding task of sorting back in my DVDs alphabetically had me seating for several hours ... online connection became impossible after 1 PM. I washed the underside of my desk, which has become SO moldy that the midlew started to 'rain down' on the floor below .. not very pretty ... I also cleaned out the pantry ... is it possible for ants to bite their way through plastic ??? in some occasions it sure seemed like it ...

The cat is more than ok ... she seems to remember us just fine ... and even with all those loud and busy people around, she stayed close to the house, which was a first (she used to just vanish) ... I also put together her new litterbox, which we schlepped all the way from NY .. and she was somewaht intrigued ... now let's see if she gets the idea ...

Dinner was a protein fix in form of aged sirloin steak at Aberdeen Grill ... and it was great again .. 2 very nice pieces of meat. It seems they are training some new waiters .. so we had our fun with those ("aren't we supposed to get steak knives?" "How about mustard?")

Back home we finished watching X-Men ... Ritsu was not sure if she had seen that one yet (in the end she confirmed that she had seen it, but did not recall all the details and who is what) .. so now we are prepared to go watch X2 together ... wonder how much she will like it ...
And then friday they actually show the new Matrix movie here ... so funny ... I bet they cannot do the 5/15 world release date in Fiji .. because that would mean that Fiji gets to see the movie before anyone else in the world !!! .. So it is 5/16 here, which is still very ok !

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Tuesday, May 13, 2003

5 AM and already 25C / 77F and 84% humidity ... yes !!!

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Monday, May 12, 2003

Ahhh, the crowing of the rooster at 3 AM ... how i missed that ..

anyways .. we are back, as mentioned before ... and updating may be a bit sporadic, as I don;t really have an ISP right now .. so I will try all kinds of work-arounds till I am happily reconnected ..

anyways .. summary of the trip back from NY: On Saturday we were in packing frenzy and realized that we had way too much stuff ... So i went to Odd Job, a cheapo / leftover place and bought a new carry-on size suitcase for the silly price of 5.99$ But even after filling that I feared we had not enough space .. but it turned out that we had enough time to make things actually fit. At 1 PM we left the apartment and returned the keys. Chris and Berna picked us up and drove us to the airport ... Checking In was no problem .. but this new "you cannot lock you luggage" policy is mind-boggling ... Just for fun I locked one (the lock later was removed and the suitcase 'sealed' by some tape) ... We had enough time to have lunch all together, burgers and wings and quesadiles at TGIF. And it was very nice ...

getting through security was no problem .. turns out my shoes are the non beeping kind, so I can keep 'em on ... but my bag with 2 laptops and tons of computer equipment as usual was interesting enough to be examined ...

The flight from NY to LA was on, we skipped the boring food and just dozed of most of the time ...

Once in LA (gladly we already had our boarding passes for the next leg and our luggage was checked all the way through to Nadi) we looked for food and a nice flight hostess recommended that saucer shaped groovy looking place called "Encounter" ... I have seen it many times .. it is that saucer on 4 concrete legs, looks a bit like Austin Powers shag pad. But I have never eaten there ... so, we checked it out .. first thing I noticed that the Esquivel-ish space age music in the elevator was exactly timed with the ride ... once on the upped level, you think you are in one of those James Bond's Villain's lair from the 60ies Bond movies ... The person who designed the place must have had one thought: Lava Lamp .. the whole place feels like that .. even the outside legs are illuminated in changing colors ... here a panoramic pic, alas, it does not open on my machine ... maybe you have more luck.

Too bad the place was crowded by loud tourist and later and even louder bachelorette party group of four .. quite entertaining to watch .. they took plenty of pics with a disposable cam of kissing each other .. and at one point I noticed the to-be-bride having her hand in another girls cleavage ... I bet they thought they are as funny as the 4 girls of "Sex and the City" .. but they were just as intoxicated ...

Food was good: Ritsu had Linguini with Tigershrimp and I had half a roast duck with sweet Thai sauce and rice ... with that some wine and beer.

Next stop security control to get to our gate, no problems there .. and off we went to Fiji ... loooong flight, plane not full at all .. many people grabbed a 4 seat row for themselves to sleep. Ritsu slept right away, I dozed around, had some drinks and slept a bit ... the movie "Two weeks notice" was not entertaining enough to keep me awake ...

I slept less than on my 2 prior flights between LAX and NAN .. but it was ok .. we arrived in time .. all our luggage was there .. and we went through immigrations and customs with no trouble at all .. I wonder what they would have said if they had found all the japanese food items in our luggage ... or the 4 iPods .. :) well .. all very harmless ...

So .. back in Fiji we were hit by a wall of warm / HUMID air ... we made our way to the domestic terminal and checked in ... although they claim they have a 20kg / 44lbs limit per person for luggage, we had no trouble with our bazillion on bags and stuff .. The prop plane was of a good size and 20 minutes after take off we already arrived in Suva ...

Again, surprisingly, all of our luggage arrived and we took a cab back home .. were to my surprise my door key did not fit!!!

Alas I had the pantry key and had to make a run to disarm the alarm within 30 secs ... and it worked .. The cat recalled us just fine and was very excited to see us .. The house smelled pretty stale, but everything seemed to be in good order ... I noticed then that my bike was not where I left it ... ooops !!! ... But I found it in another room ...

Turns out that our housekeeper had gotten her purse stolen (with our keys) and replaced the front lock and key .. and they made sure that nothing of value is visible ...

After some unpacking and showering (useless, I started sweating right again, 84F/27C and 88% humidity) I drove Ritsu to work and then visited Jonathan and Kozue to get my DVDs back and bring him some stuff ... after a bit Ritsu called .. there is no water in her office building .. everybody is leaving ... so I picked her up and we went to Cost-U-Less for supermarket shopping ... and then for lunch .. something we avoided very well in NY .. but now we had a craving ... McDonalds !!!

Back home nappy time for Ritsu and I did unpacking and watching parts of "North by Northwest" ... a great movie, which ending I have still never seen ... I am trying again right after this update ... also fun in that movie is the setting around the UN building .. just were we lived in NY ...

anyways ... for dinner we called around to see what is open (Prophet Mohammed's Birthday is a public holiday here .. and neither Aberdeen Grill nor Great Wok of China would pick up the phone) ... but Fong Lee did .. and so .. once again we went to that great seafood place .. only to end up with pork dishes ...

but their stuff is so good .. and I understand that they rather call themselves Seafood place .. than "Pork place" ... we took quite some leftovers back home ...

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Sunday, May 11, 2003

we are back in Fiji safe and sound after a long long flight .... all is well, house still standing, cat is peachy .. and we are already sweating ... more later

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