We got to the airport in Christchurch on Super Bowl Sunday via the van/trailer shuttle similar to the one we had used in Auckland on our arrival in New Zealand. I was worried that my big wheeled duffel was too heavy so weighed it on the digital scale at the Air New Zealand check-in area. There is a 20 kg limit on checked luggage; if you are over that weight, you must pay the excess baggage fees. My bag weighed 24 kg! We put as much heavy stuff into RA’s bag as we could and re-weighed my bag: exactly 20 kg! Our carry on bags both exceeded the nominal 7 kg limit, but no one ever checked them, so all went well when we finally made it to the front of the line.
The four hour flight to Nadi (pronounced Nandi), Fiji, was uneventful. The only odd thing took place after we had cleared immigration and collected our bags; we had to go through security screening again, and all of our hand luggage was x-rayed. Our only guess is that they were looking for fruit and other foodstuffs that are not allowed into the island nation.
We signed the papers for our Suzuki Swift and were soon on our way down the Queen’s Road along Viti Levu’s Coral Coast to Crusoe’s Retreat. Fiji is a third world country and the roads and condition of the rental car suspension reflected it. After two hours of driving, we found the road to the resort--four kilometers of rising, falling, and narrowing gravel road. By the time we reached the hotel, it was dark, the road was not much wider than the car, and some of the last few hills were extremely steep.
The folks at Crusoe’s were expecting us, took us immediately to dinner, and then checked us in.
Our lodging for the next four nights was a bure; a tourist version of the native hut. Sort of an A-frame cabin with a high ceiling. We went for the bures on the hill which had the best view of the lagoon, coral reef and South Pacific Ocean beyond. These were the cheap “seats” with a steep set of steps to get to the top of the hill and no air-conditioning in our bure. The high, peaked ceiling collected most of the hot, humid air and the ceiling fan and breeze through the open windows kept us comfortable.
Our plan for this four night stay was to do nothing but eat, sleep, and relax. We had purchased the full meal plan so had three hot meals a day plus afternoon tea; we climbed those steep steps several times a day! Happy hour and dinner were announced with drumming on a large hollowed out log; seemed appropriate as there were no newspapers, televisions, or radios to distract us……..and the wireless internet died by noon of our first day! We finally got the Super Bowl score on Thursday at the airport in Nadi before our flight to Los Angeles.
We rented the car in case we felt like doing a little touring on the island, but it never moved after our arrival. By Tuesday we were in full tropical mode achieving our goal of doing “nothing.”
The resort clientele resembled a mini-United Nations and we met and talked with many interesting people. There were various evening “activities” after dinner and the one that garnered the most participation was on our last night; hermit crab and frog races! A little gambling was involved with our crab placing third and our frog finishing out of the money. Part of the entertainment was the singing of the national anthems by the people from each country. RA and I were the only Americans and I’m glad that none of you could hear our rendition of The Star Spangled Banner.
We did manage a little sightseeing when we drove back to Nadi for our flight to the USA. We stopped to see the colorfully painted Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Hindu temple (Indo-Fijians make up approximately 40% of Fiji’s population). The Garden of the Sleeping Giant was our next stop before arriving at the airport. The garden was established by the American actor Raymond Burr and showcases over 1500 species of orchids. The jungle boardwalk in the garden was a pleasant way to say good-bye to this tropical island.