You’d think after getting trapped on an island due to a tropical storm and incoming cyclone I would update my blog and tell all the spectacular details about it. You’d think.
Truth is, the island was really boring when there’s nothing to do. The staff kept watching rugby on the only tv in the place, so most of us paying guests were left to basket weaving, Monopoly or cards. I finished my book by the third day we were there, so I was bored out of my mind. That, and my computer inexplicably would not boot up, so I couldn’t even work on my writing. I didn’t get it fixed until twelve days ago. I guess I’ve had more than enough time to write this blog … my bad. Of course, there were plenty of drinking games to be had and I do recall one night when many of us didn’t go to bed until 4 a.m. I missed breakfast and lunch that next day (and still had to pay the mandatory $75FJD/day meal plan.) Talk about an expensive dinner.
There was a lot of confusion about the boat. Each day we were told it wasn’t coming. Then the day when it was meant to come, there was so much mis-communication that some guests were getting frustrated. Some Iranian woman screamed into the phone at someone at the ferry HQ. When I heard her tell the person to stop laughing, I was happy for them. She did nothing but complain, but many people said it was due to her fear. I, however, thought she was just rude.
When the boat finally came, three days later, nearly all the guests opted to leave and paid up their rather large bills. I had spent $450FJD at the bar! Wow. Luckily, for my own peace of mind, I did not have the biggest bar tab there. And I had been there for seven days. But still, that’s a lot.
Many of us were worried the boat ride would be dangerous. Thing was the tropical storm had passed, but there was only a window of about ten hours for the boat to get to the islands, get the guests and get back to the mainland. The mainland, so we had heard, had flooded, had landslides and declared a state of emergency. People had died. Many of us had no idea what we would do once we got there, or if the roads were accessible, power was on or water was working. I felt helpless. Plus, I had left all my skydiving gear in a hostel in Nadi. I had to get there before my plane left the next day.
When we got off the boat there were shuttle buses to take us to our hostels. Me and the two Danish girls had booked ahead and got beds at Smugglers Cove, where my gear was. The Norwegian boys stayed down the road but came and met us for dinner that night. But the bus ride was an eye-opener. The destruction was wide-spread, but mainly contained in the low-lying regions. At one point on the road, there was no road, huge pieces of the pavement laid in the field next to the road, having been lifted and carried away. Couches and belonging were outside drying. Car doors open for ventilation. Some houses still with two or three feet of water through them. We were better off on the island where we had clean drinking water, electricity and Internet access.
That night the water went on and off. The power flickered and at times the generator had to take over. It was strange times. The wind would suddenly pick up and they’d have to shutter all the windows. The trees would knock against the walls, and while I was hopeful that luck would be on my side, I had a worry my plane would not leave the next day.
In the morning we awoke to find the cyclone had changed its course and Fiji would be spared much of its wrath. The bands of rain still hammered the island, but not at full force. The flood waters were rapidly receding and people had begun the lengthly undertaking of cleaning up.
The airport was chaos. Everyone wanted to get off the island. People were there without tickets hoping to get on the plane to LAX on standby – hopeful someone wouldn’t show up for their flight. This was my original ticket and I had a seat. It was the first flight to LAX since the tropical depression smacked the island. And let me tell you how long it takes to fill a full 747. Holy crap. But to end the tale – the flight left. I got to LAX. And finally I got home.