Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Long Way Home

To get back to Majuro, I needed to fly to Fiji, and then to Hawaii (with a short stop in Kirimati or Christmas Island, which is part of our mission) and back to Majuro.  It seems crazy, but that is the only dependable way to get from Tarawa to Majuro.  Just recently they started flying OUR airlines which has a route from Tarawa to Majuro and back every few weeks, but it is very undependable and has cancelled several times.  I was able to fly to Tarawa from Majuro that way, but it would have been another few weeks before I could get back to Majuro that way and then it is still a question if the plane would actually fly. 
Coming into Nadi, Fiji, we passed over many little islands and coral atolls
Coming into Fiji
Fiji is a very modern country with beautiful mountains and many rivers.  I was able to see the sights around Nadi, but a trip to Suva would have been too far for my day and a half stay.  My son Luke was able to get me a Hertz rental car for a day and so I was able to get around.  The only problem is that you drive on the left hand side of the street and the steering wheel is on the right.  I had a standard shift car and the gears were all operated by your left hand.  Very weird.  I watched closely to see how the cars were doing right and left hand turns and then just tried to follow.  The round abouts were a little confusing at times but I made it and didn't even revert back to the wrong side of the road.

Some of the islands of Fiji

My car in Fiji
I stayed at the Raffles Hotel which is right by the Nadi Airport
My hotel was very nice and I ate several of my meals at the hotel because I could pay with a credit card.  In Fiji, they have their own money and I had to get some to get around while I was there.  I first got some at the airport and then got a little more at the hotel.  The American Dollar is worth slightly more than the Fijian Dollar.  I forgot to mention that in Kiribati, they use  Australian currency.  I wasn't getting my car until 5:pm that afternoon because I figured I could go driving around from 5pm to 5pm the next day  (well minus the 8 hours sleep) and then be ready to check into the airport.  I got in at 10:30 am and was able to check into my hotel room.  Since I wouldn't have my car for a few hours, I decided to take the bus into Nadi and look around for a while.  Nadi is a very interesting place.  There are tons of people everywhere.  Most of them are either Fijian (tall, big, curly hair etc) or Indian from India with the smaller build and many of the women still wear the traditional Indian Sari.

Inside this building were rows and rows of people selling vegetables and fruits

  I got off in town and went to the open market place which was huge.  There were people selling every kind of vegetable or fruit you could imagine.  Fiji is an island and the soil is rich, unlike the atolls of Majuro and Tarawa.  When you would go into the stores, the shopkeepers were usually Indian and they would have someone follow you around like you were going to steal something.  In one shop a man was demonstrating how to make Kava.
Man making Kava
I didn't want to taste any..I think we aren't supposed to
I think the man was trying to get me to buy stuff at his store so he wanted to do this little demonstration. Nadi has many different types of stores and shops.  It even has some American Fast Food stores like McDonalds.  It was time for school to get out as I was riding back to my hotel on the bus and the streets were crowded with school children and teenagers in their different school uniforms. The place was really busy.  At five o clock I was ready to pick up my car.  I went slow at first but I was able to ride around and see some of the sights along the way.  There are lots of beautiful flowers and trees and many banana trees and sugar cane and lots of different kinds of houses.  There were small little shacks like you see in Majuro and Tarawa, but most of the houses were a little bigger.  Some were very nice.  The next morning I woke up and headed out again.  This time I went down to Port Denaru, a real touristy place.  I went shopping at a place called Jacks of Fiji.  Some other senior missionaries had been there before and they wanted me to get them some scented coconut oil.  (a big thing here but here they sale it in little bottles or dish soap bottles and you can't take it on a plane or mail it)  I also ate at the Hard Rock Cafe.  (a first for me)  It was good...chicken Pizza.  I haven't had anything like that for months, well since I got here.  The afternoon in Nadi I went on a tour  to this beautiful lookout place where you can look all over the valley near Nadi, an authentic Fijian villiage and Raymond Burr's (Perry Mason) orchid farm called Valley of the sleeping Giants.  It was just me and an Australian couple who were on the shuttle bus.  They forgot their camera so I took some pictures of them and E-mailed them .  Here are some of the sights I saw:

A beautiful lookout overlooking Nadi and surrounding area.  I am with a couple from Australia
The tour guide at the Orchid Farm.  
More sites to see the beautiful valley

The countryside

The Orchid Garden

Raymond Burr (Perry Mason) had the hobby of raising orchids.  He would spend a lot of time in Fiji with his beautiful garden.  After he passed away, his family wanted to share it with others and have turned it into this beautiful garden for people to come and visit 

More beautiful Orchids

An exotic orchid

Thee were all kinds of orchids that were grown in the garden.  There were orchids of every color.

In the Orchid Garden

The Sleeping Giant Mountain.  The Orchid Garden is in the valley under this mountain

At Port Denaru
Home near Nadi Banana and Papaya everywhere
Lots of tourists going on boats to different Fijian islands
Port Denaru
Beautiful Valley
Cute Fijian children
A Fijian Lady who took us on a tour of her village

A Modern Day Grass Hut in the Fijian Village
After my fun filled day and a half in Fiji, I boarded an Air Pacific Airplane for my flight to Hawaii with a brief in Kirimati Island.  I turned my car in at 5 pm and my flight didn't leave until almost midnight so I had a nice long wait at the airport.  I love to watch people though and so I enjoyed it a lot.

Kirimati (Christmas Island) is part of our mission.  We have a senior couple that live there and we have 4 Elders and 2 Sisters that work there

Kirimati Atoll is one of the largest Atolls in the world.  It is part of the country of Kiribati, even though it is over a thousand miles away. Some of the people in Tarawa are relocating to Kirimati.  In the Kiribati language Ti is a sss sound.  So if you figure that into the spelling it is Christmas. 
Air Pacific from Fiji to Hawaii
The Runway at Kirimati Island (Christmas Island)
Kirimati people speak Kiribati  It isn't highly populated like Tarawa
We had a layover in Kirimati International Airport for about an hour.  The transition Lounge was just some benches in an empty building.  No frills for sure.  There was one bathroom that was not working  There were actually a lot of people who got on at Christmas Island.  Many of them had been on Deep Sea Fishing Trips.   Kirimati has wonderful surfing so some of them were there doing that.  Our mission President and his wife stayed in a hotel that was little grass huts.  The Senior Couple that live there stay for their whole mission.  There are a lot of members of the church here.  A couple of Branches for sure.  President and Sister Shaw try to spend at least a week when they travel to this part of the mission every few months.  Since it is a district President Shaw signs all temple recommends, and interviews all those going on missions etc.

On To Hawaii...the last leg of my trip

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