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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Fiji Trip: Going Home

Beach across the street
On Saturday it was time to go.  Our luggage was picked up from our room around 8, and then we went to breakfast, wandered around taking some last pictures (like of this beach, which I never actually went to during our stay), and got on the bus for Labasa a little after 9.  We were on a woefully under-provisioned bus.  We were barely making any progress going up the hills.  This bus made the bus that we rode on the way in seem great!  At some point, on the way up a hill, there was a guy on a horse, carrying a machete, and he was making it up the hill faster than we were.  The driver kept telling us that we would make it to the airport in time.  First we would be there by noon.  Then just a bit before noon, we passed a sign saying that Labasa was another 40 kilometers.  Hmmm.  Then about 8 kilometers from the airport, the bus broke down.  Ginny told the bus driver to call cabs for us NOW.  He got on his cell phone and we all de-bussed.  The guys on the bus quickly unloaded all of our luggage from the bus.  We had broken down right in front of a gas station, which was convenient, because there was a place we could stand in the shade.  However, their phone was not working, so we were at the mercy of the bus driver (for some reason, no one was having success calling the resort to ask them to arrange taxis for us).

Broken down bus
Eventually a taxi just happened to show up, to get gas.  Ginny and a couple of others got in and went to the airport, so that they could arrange for more taxis to come and pick us up.  A couple minutes later, another taxi showed up, and agreed to take some people to the airport, for 25 FJD.  Rob and I invited ourselves along in that car.  It was a small pickup truck with a front and back seat.  Three of us (the Waltons and I) rode up front, and the three young men (including Rob) sat in the bed, with our bags.  There was a canopy over the truck bed, which kept out the sun.  On the way to the airport, it began to rain and then to pour.  Apparently the canopy didn't keep water out, but the driver pulled over and put a tarp over it, and then it kept the rain out.  But in the meantime, the guys got pretty wet.  We got to the airport, and only as we were about to pay the guy, did we find out that we weren't actually in a taxi, just some guy's car :)  There was some discussion about how the bus company was going to pay the taxi drivers, but since this wasn't a real taxi, they might not pay him.  We happily paid the guy anyway, since we were just glad that someone got us to the airport!  I hope the guy managed to get some more money from the bus company!

Our ride to the airport
It turns out that our flight was running a bit late anyway, and they didn't seem to mind waiting a bit longer until everyone made it to the airport since we had like 36 of the 40 seats on the plane (I'm not convinced the plane would have taken off any sooner anyway).  On this leg of the trip, they actually did weigh my carry-on, which was way below the weight limit.  They didn't weigh Rob's bag, I think because he carried it like it was really light (while I carried my much lighter bag like it was really heavy!).  Once we got to Nadi, we had an epic long layover (like 7 hours I think), which was super boring.  I had originally been thinking we could go into town to do a little shopping, but it was raining really hard when we arrived.  So I decided to do my shopping at the airport instead :)  There is a cafe there that has comfy couches to sit in, and lots of outlets to charge laptops, iPads, etc., so a bunch of us passed several hours there.  We managed to score exit row seats again, but not on the upper deck :(  I slept for most of the flight back, woohoo.  When we got back to LAX, we had like another 5 hours until our flight to SFO.  We confirmed that that really was the soonest flight to SFO, and though there was an earlier flight to San Jose, it was already overbooked.  So we didn't bother standing by on it, and instead headed to the Admirals Club, where I had the best shower ever (or so it seemed).  Ahhh, to be clean after that trip!

We finally made it back to SF around 6:30 and in a show of super-human endurance, we raced home, changed, and then drove to Santa Cruz to go to Jim's annual Christmas party; and still made it in plenty of time for the gift exchange!  Here's what I contributed to this year's gift exchange.

Yes, that's a teaser.  More on that topic later.

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