Today, smooth sailing went out the window. In prep for the next leg of the journey from Honolulu to Fiji, we snooze for a couple of hours at 3 in the afternoon. The alarm rings at 5, we dress and head out for dinner. On our walk earlier in the day we sussed out a restaurant close to the hotel and head straight there. It opens at 5.30. We walk through the door at 5.28 and immediately get schussed back out because we are 2 minutes early. The young waitress even points out the fact by noting the time on the computer cash register. When we return 4 minutes later we are not even the first to be seated. I don’t know how the other two folks timed their entrance so precisely. We are seated and an ‘older’ lady waits on us apologising for being rebuffed a few minutes earlier. I think this time one of the owners was dealing with us. The sushi is why we are there and it is of very high quality. The place is very Japanese, our waiter was struggling with her English and the two sushi chefs were older fellows most definitely of Japanese heritage.
We return to the hotel room and try to stay awake until our departure for the airport at 11.30pm to catch a 3am flight. Who the hell schedules these things? We get to the ticket counter a ½ hour before it even opens and sit with a small crowd that has gathered to wait for the attendants to arrive. There are stirrings behind the counter and we are encouraged to enter the shuttle and proceed to the counter to get processed. When we arrive at the counter we are informed the plane is 3 hours late and we will not be boarding until post 5am. Damn we could have slept in a bed for 5 hours and still arrive in time for the flight, instead we look forward to sitting in an airport lounge for a very long time, waiting.
As we walk down the long hall to the gate we note a few benches without the annoying anti sleep arm rests. The ones we walk by are all occupied by travellers stretched out sleeping. Continuing on past our gate we find a couple of those prized benches without inhabitants. They are molded fibreglass and although smooth might as well be rock, but they are long enough to stretch out on and we need sleep. We intended to do that on the plane but we are not going to make it to 5 o’clock so these benches are a welcome sight. It takes quite a while to find a method to match body curves to bench curves but with a bit of scrunching up and down and rolling this way and that to find padded body parts we both get a little shut eye. The body cools down when sleeping and though we just left -10C at home even Hawaii can get cold.
Debbie and I both awake at about the same time and have to get up and move. It could be the first time I have had to wear a jacket in a hot climate. Starbucks is the only place open. We don’t know if we will get any kind of food on the airplane so we think we should find something to tide us over and maybe some tea and hot chocolate to warm us up. We still have 2 hours till we are to load and we manage to milk our drinks so we can sit at the Starbuck’s seating.
The plane finally arrives, the gate opens and we are on board ready to fly. Missed the take off time by a few minutes but we are 3+ hours late anyway so a couple of minutes will make little difference. As long as our ride is there when we arrive I don’t care too much. Dammed if we don’t get breakfast on the plane and it looks like we get to Nadi in a much better frame of mind than if we had had to survive on a croissant and a hot chocolate. The plane is sparsely populated and we both find rows of unoccupied seat to stretch out on and continue to bag a few more precious minutes of sleep. I don’t know how this will affect our sleeping pattern when we arrive in Fiji but we are diving after the next sleep come hell or high water. We can chill a bit today and will for sure only do 2 dives tomorrow so we can lounge in the afternoon. By then our bodies should be in sync.
Arrival in Nadi is a little quicker than the 6.5 hours we were told it was going to take so somehow the pilot made back a few minutes on the flight. Upon landing we realize there is a rainstorm raging. The rain is coming down hard, the runway is shiny.
At the exit gate there is a fellow with the dive resorts name on a sign. An affirmation he is our guy and we are in Land Cruiser, snorkel and all, and down the road. It rains hard and harder as we make our way towards the Volivoli. Last week when Cyclone Jodie passed by, the low-lying areas of Viti Levu were flooded. It made world news. We read about it in Edmonton. The rain storm we are driving through has just been classified Cyclone Keni. Now we have been in two official cyclones. Once a few years back in Myanmar and now in Fiji.
As we drive from the Nadi airport towards the Voli Voli Resort, our driver shows us where the flooding occurred with the last cyclone. Low areas of the road we travel were a metre under water. He shows us where even he, with his snorkled Land Cruiser, got turned around. The good thing, he says, was that by the next morning, the road was driveable again. He says it is not the rain that is the worse part of a cyclone but the wind. The rain water will run off to the ocean, but the wind will destroy houses and buildings.
It is raining hard in some areas as we circumnavigate the island and the wind blows hard. I look down roads that lead inland and they are fully immersed in muddy water. The small creeks running under bridges that we cross are running very high and swift, some nearing the bottom edge of the bridges. There are men standing on the bridges watching for dangerous tree branches so they can move them before a log jam occurs.
We make the 100 km journey in under 3 hours, the traffic being high due to everyone heading home in preparation of this next storm. We are welcomed by the (slightly relieved, I think) manager of the resort. He warns us the storm is picking up strength and that we will have to make a call tomorrow morning as to whether we go diving.
Stepping out of the car at the Volivoli it is again coming down in buckets. We step inside the lobby and are supplied with an umbrella so we can stay dry while getting to the dining room. In the short time it takes to eat lunch the rain has subsided and the wind is calm. I spoke of how smooth travel had gone up to today and today a lug nut fell off one of the wheels. We still progress towards our goal but we need to stop at a service station so the wheel does not leave us completely. Debbie calculated we have 13 flying legs this trip and if this is the worst glitch we encounter it should be an outstanding trip.
We unpack, organize our very nice ocean view bungalow, enjoy a tasty supper while watching the alternating rain and wind gusts, and then struggle to keep our eyes open. We crash at 8:30. Lights out.