|It was a trek just getting from |
Del Viento to the Nadi airport.
It was a long road to Ajo, Arizona.
It started with packing up and prepping Del Viento to float on her own for 4 or 5 months, during cyclone season. That ain’t easy, especially when living aboard, especially during a period of come-and-go rain when nothing could be brought below unless it was bone dry. Accordingly, the mainsail and headsail joined us below about 10 days before we left, not very convenient. Hard things like the solar panels dry quickly, so they weren’t such a concern.
We did all this last year, in Tonga. Because things like solar panels and cockpit cushions we stow in the V-berth, and because Windy and I sleep in the V-berth, we didn’t bring those things below last year until the day we left. Our flight left at 1600 hours and it was still a struggle. I vowed to do better this time. But this time our transportation left Savusavu at 0600—not a lot of time between waking and leaving. So we got a hotel room for the night, the best $50 bucks we’ve spent in a while. Still didn’t get there until 2000 hours.
The taxi picked us up as arranged at 0530 on Sunday morning for a 5-block ride to the bus station (thanks Jolene!). The bus took off with us aboard at 0600. We rode for four hours before arriving at the ferry depot. We waited for 2 hours. We took a 4-hour ferry ride. We took a 3-hour bus ride. We hauled our luggage to another bus and rode for another three hours. We took a taxi to our Hotwire-reserved, prepaid hotel in Nadi. It was late at night.
“Hi, we’re the Robertsons, we have a room reserved for tonight.”
“I’m sorry, we don’t have anything reserved under that name, could it be another name?”
|Eleanor still bright-eyed during the first|
bus ride of the first day on the road.
“Here’s our confirmation code and online receipt.”
“Hmmm, I don’t see anything.”
“We paid, see here? We’re really tired.”
This wasn’t a chain hotel, just a little mom-and-pop place. The woman finally conceded something must be wrong on her end and showed us to our room without finding any reservation or record of payment. Pretty cool.
The next morning a taxi picked us up at 1000 hours and brought us to the Nadi airport. We made it to the Virgin Australia counter with all our luggage still with us.
“Michael, Windy, Eleanor, and Frances—yes—you’re on the afternoon flight to Sydney. Do you have your Electronic Travel Authority?”
I’ve never flown anywhere where I didn’t just jump on the plane and fill out a customs declaration en route and get a visa automatically when I landed. Apparently it’s a whole new world and the Aussies require even American allies to process themselves online and get approved to board before boarding. It costs $20 per person. So we retreated to some nearby seating and used the airport’s free wifi to appeal to the Australians to let us visit. It didn’t take long and by the time we got to the counter, $80 lighter, the ticket agent could see in her system that we were approved.
We landed in Sydney about 1800.
So the reason we flew east to go west is that Air New Zealand refused to allow us to use the Mileage Plus points we’ve been faithfully accumulating with our United Airlines credit card for the past 8 years. They’re supposed to, they’re part of the same network, but the Fiji-to-Auckland route seems to be the only one they’ve exempted. Damn. So we made lemonade from those lemons by finding pretty cheap tickets to Sydney, planning a 4-day layover, and then letting United take us from Sydney to D.C. on their new 787.
But first, an Aussie holiday!
|The ferry cometh.|
|Frances and Windy still doing well on the ferry.|
|Frances and I walking towards the Sydney Opera House. At|
this point, neither girl knows the surprise they're in for.
|Bondi Beach is very cool, hipster, artsy-like. Imagine a small Portland|
or Victoria with a warm, sunny beach.
|While we were there, they happened to be having their |
annual sculpture on the beach display. It was pretty cool.
|The girls could have sat here for hours, cajoling these|
white ibis birds.
|View from downtown.|
|The girls dug this artist's work, but had no idea|
he was behind them when Windy took the picture.