Bula island lovers,
It was time to depart the frozen landscape of McMurdo, so I flew out on the monstrous C-17 cargo plane and spent a few days in New Zealand enjoying the thrill of going to the grocery store and hanging out in the produce section to inhale the aroma of fresh fruits. I also got to have some wonderful meals with friends before heading north to meet Pat in Fiji, a nation of dozens of islands about 1300 miles north of New Zealand in the emerald waters of the South Pacific. It is known to suffer from the occasional cyclone this time of year and regular military coups every few years, but is currently run by a dictator who goes by the title of Commodore and has promised open elections every year since 2011. Pat promptly flew in the next morning, landing at 6:00 AM on the flight from Los Angeles to multiple “Bulas”from the locals which means hello, and I whisked her away in a taxi to the ferry terminal to buy a boat pass and book an island retreat that sounded suitable for our first few nights. No self respecting Antarctic veteran makes reservations in advance, so Pat went along with that philosophy as long as I assured her that the probability of spending the night camping on the beach was as likely as the US congress working in harmony for the good of the people for the next two years.
Our first place was a beachfront $300/night rustic bure, or hut, with a quiet beach to ourselves and the sweltering heat to convince us to swim or shower every few hours to cool off. We got that out of our system after 2 days, so we hopped the ferry north and booked a place that promised air conditioning in a more lively setting. The Blue Lagoon resort, named after the 1980 Brooke Shields movie that was filmed there, proved to be a paradise of clean, cool dorm rooms for a third of the cost of previous place and spectacular food for all tastes. There was great snorkeling and diving with plenty of beach time in between the meals and naps, so we extending our stay and only left when it was time to prepare to depart for our homeland. Our last night was spent on an island closer to the mainland and the airport, that just happened to have a ping pong table next to the bar. We jetted back to Florida after a day of beach and snorkel time, and I faced the re-entry challenge without too much anxiety. I returned to Colorado the following week, and having worked my usual full time workload this week am ready for a weekend of hiking and biking. Hope spring is around the corner for you and the snow shovel is put away for the season.