I'm Back

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Hello everyone,

Made it back safely after an interesting trip to the South Pacific. Spent 4 unexpected days in L.A. due to United being unable to operate a 51 minute flight less than three hours late so just got to the Cook Islands in time for the my son's wedding. I'm composing a nice love letter to United now.

Fiji is a lovely place but has real political problems. Most of the difficulties are occurring in the eastern part of the main island and we were in the western part so no big deal except for a curfew and soldiers that looked much too heavily armed for their training. Once we started sailing up the Yasawa's no one cared who was in charge in Suva anyway so the village life was pretty much as normal - fish a little, drink some kava, sleep, and repeat as needed. The tribal culture was interesting but is the major cause of the problems as half the country are Indo-Fijians who simply have no place in the culture of the country and can't own land. Everything moves in slow motion there though, so the coup continues and who knows where it will end. It is the type of thing that could be settled in about 1 hour with an SAS team from Australia but that's not how things are done in Fiji.

The normal daily arrival of tourists this time of year is about 15,000 and only 400 arrived the day we left so the economy is already suffering badly. Australia and New Zealand have already put trade embargoes in place and it's just a matter of time before Fiji runs out of most manufactured goods and fuel, all of which is imported. It's sad to see a lot of innocent people being hurt due to the actions of one megalomaniac.

For those of you into diving, Fiji has some great soft coral but not much else. The water is warm (about 80 degrees) but the fish life is about half the numbers in the Caribbean and the visibility was very disappointing, being less than 50 feet on most dives. Never saw one shark and the biggest fish I saw was a grouper about 4 feet long. For a total flying time of about 23 hours, it's certainly not worth it if diving is your only interest. The weather for sailing is also not the best with several cloudy days and some very strong winds with one night at anchorage enduring 40-50 knots gusts and spending most of the night seeing the deck coming up at me at high speed while trying to sleep. We also had several days where the high was never above 75 and one night where the temperature went down to about 60, not freezing but not shorts or t-shirt weather either.

The people are Fiji are great though, friendly and eager to please. I never had the feeling of any danger and the people would have protected tourists before themselves. The upside to the coup for us is that we were the only tourists almost any place we went so we probably had better service and prices than we could have gotten otherwise.

It was certainly an adventure and I wasn't taken hostage so I'm thankful for that. All I have to now is plow though my 400 waiting e-mail messages so I won't be bored at least.

Regards, Jim

-- Jim Cooke (JJCooke@yahoo.com), June 19, 2000


Welcome back, Jim. Glad your safe. You and Brian back in the same weekend-we are fortunate.

-- FutureShock (gray@matter.think), June 19, 2000.

Lay off him, future shock,. I think you misread his post. Jim, glad to see you back. I work with a guy from Fiji, and he is cool, real laid back type. He thinks its pretty stupid what is happening over there as well.

-- Bimi Thanton (Bimit@littlerock.con), June 19, 2000.

It sounds like Fiji has really changed since I read about it. I'm certainly glad you had a "good enough" time, Jim, and made it in time for the wedding.

I'm glad to see you back and posting again. While you and Brian were gone, some folks were worried about the direction of the forum.

-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), June 19, 2000.


Sorry to hear you had a less than excellent tropical vacation but it sounds like you made the best of it.At least ya got to do some fishin' and drink some Kava(looked it up and it sounds like an interesting adult beverage).

Maybe you should consider Vegas in Oct.,where you can be guaranteed a rip rousin' good time.Glad ya'll had a safe trip.

-- capnfun (capnfun1@excite.com), June 19, 2000.


Did you have tounge in cheek? I am confused by your post to me. Lay off him? I was expressing genuine sentiment that Jim was back. He is one of the voices of reason here. Did you misunderstand me?

-- FutureShock (gray@matter.think), June 19, 2000.

Hi Jim,

It's good to have you back -- and Brian as well.

I'm sorry things were kinda mixed for you there, but overall, it sounds like it was well worth it.

FS, I agree -- Bimi's post didn't make sense.

-- eve (eve_rebekah@yahoo.com), June 19, 2000.

How's your tan?

Is the golf any good?

-- Swampthing (in@the.swamp), June 19, 2000.


Welcome back.

-- J (Y2J@home.comm), June 19, 2000.

Please accept my apologies Future Shock, I must have been sleeping when I wrote that.

-- Bimi Thanton (Bimit@littlerock.con), June 19, 2000.

Hi Jim,

Welcome back and thanks for sharing. The board is not the same without you.

-- Debra (:o)@!.com), June 20, 2000.

Thanks, Bimi. Apology not necessary, but accepted.

-- FutureShock (gray@matter.think), June 20, 2000.

Thanks for the kind words everyone. I've been trying to catch up on some of the past messages and it looks like things haven't changed too much :^)

As far as a tan, I'm afraid I have the curse of the Nordic man - I only sunburn regardless of the amount of sunscreen I use. A thick coat of latex paint is the only answer.

I'm not much of a golf player but the Sheraton Hotel on Denaru Island closed down for a month due to the coup. The golf course remained open and I could have played an 18 hole round for $15 compared to the usual $120 fee. Just an idea of how bad things have gotten in Fiji since the coup.

Kava is an interesting drug. It comes from the roots of the Kava plant and is pounded into powder, strained into water, and drunk. It is really a part of the cultural fabric of Fiji. Every island village we visited required a gift of Kava roots to the chief and a small ceremony. The drink itself looks rather similar to a mud puddle in a bowl and can't be described as tasty. Still, it wasn't as bad as I expected. A few cups has a mild anesthetic effect on your tongue and lips similar to getting Novacaine at the dentist. My understanding (not tested by me) is that a LOT of Kava has the same effect on your whole body. Drinking Kava is a nightly routine for many Fijians and doesn't lead to an excess of ambition the next day. Certainly, a society where the ritual consumption of a narcotic drink by virtually the entire population presents some interesting problems with addiction.

It's always an interesting experience to travel to other countries if for no other reason than to compare how the rest of the world lives. Even with all of our complaints about the government, IRS, JBT's, etc., it's still a privilege to have been born and live in the US. Spending a few weeks in a country out of control helps to reinforce that feeling.

-- Jim Cooke (JJCooke@yahoo.com), June 20, 2000.

-- (test@test.com), November 02, 2001.

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