Fiji: July 29, 2011
Our first stop on the way to Honolulu was Nadi, Fiji. We had a @5 hour layover and we arranged to take a quick tour into Nadi but it was not to be. Customs makes it a lengthy process and in order to leave the airport we would have had to collect our luggage and re-check in for our flight. Round trip to Nadi is @50 minutes and...well, time was not on our side! Another time...the steward told me that July is a perfect time to visit Fiji and that when you do go to Fiji, that you need to take off your watch and listen to your stomach!
So we stayed in the airport, did a little shopping and had a meal. We created our own little library area to read, as well, and then Mater and I made some friends. There was a church group waiting for the same flight all wearing blue patterned wraps and t-shirts with their logo, South Seas Christian Ministries Savaii 2011. They were a group from Utah on a mission trip to Samoa and were very friendly and chatty. They do these mission trips every year to help build homes and schools and to work with the children, as well. They had instruments with them and lots of smiles to boot and were generally an easy-going and people oriented group. The youngest was 9 years old, having made his first trip when he was just 7! What a wonderful opportunity for them all, giving them a chance to meet people unlike themselves living lives worlds apart from what is familiar to Utah! Tony was their "main guy" so he had the honor of holding Mater for the photo.
Mater spent some time shopping around and making friends. The men in traditional Fijian dress were security guards in the airport and Vike was a very nice woman in the Pacific Art store in the airport, as well. They all loved our little Mater and thought that the pictures were a fun thing to do and readily accepted the invitation to pose with him. After all, who can resist Mater?!
We finally boarded our flight for Honolulu but had a quick refueling stop in Apia, Samoa. Those continuing to Honolulu did not disembark and the layover was for @1 hour. This flight was filled with lots of sturdy Melanesians, Polynesians, and Micronesians draped in hibiscus fabric and tattoos with skin tones ranging from apricot and sepia to cinnamon and mahogany. They really are unassuming, approachable people in this part of the world with welcoming smiles and happy dispositions and our plane was a collection of humanity with enough Oceanian languages being spoken to crash the Babelfish site! I cannot tell the difference between Maori and Fijian or Tongan and Hawaiian but they were all being spoken! I just love listening to it all and thinking how far removed my life in New Jersey is from their lives on these unfamiliar, remote Pacific islands. I do wish we could have done a little bit of exploring in Fiji. Hey - we'll just have to return some day!