Friday, May 9, 2008

The home stretch

It's 9:15 pm, and it's light out!

We have arrived in Anchorage after a 30 hour travel day. And it truly was A day. May 8th lasted more than 24 hours with the date line being crossed. Starting from the island of Nanuya in Fiji, we had a 5 hour boat ride to the mainland in a minimonsoon - it put the swells from the Barrier Reef to shame - thank goodness for motion sickness pills. From the boat to the LAX arrival, it took 15 hours, followed by another 10 hours of flights and waiting on standby to get to Anchorage.

Fiji is as beautiful and exotic as all of our preconceived notions made it out to be. Water with every shade of blue, deserted beaches, small islands; we can truly call it paradise. It's only a 3-6 hour flight to get there from New Zealand or Australia, so it's almost like going to Mexico for them...LUCKY! We decided to bump up to the "Captains Lounge" on the boat to the Yasawa Island chain, and Kate decided to make sure we got our money's worth of complimentary beverages. Arriving 5 hours later at Nanuya Island Resort, she was cheersing the group of couples we got to shore with...and just think, they all thought she was being friendly. The weather wasn't completely cooperative with us the entire stay, but we were fortunate to have a clear first night. The stars were so bright and plentiful, it almost looked fake.

The following day, we started to a hang out with some of the people staying with us and rehashing Kate's exit from the boat. It always made for a good laugh. The "resort" was only 12 bures, so it was kind of like summer camp for adults. A few of us went on a snorkel outing for a couple of hours and when we returned I realized "this is the first activity I have done apart from Kate in over 3 months." The resort was super relaxing with daily highlights being: watching the new people arrive on the boat and waiting for the dinner menu which was updated daily. The food was beyond incredible!

Shortly into our stay, a couple arrived to the resort who were going to be getting married a few days later. After hanging out with them for a day, we got invited to the wedding and reception! The wedding was a nifty little ceremony with about 10 other people, a local minister, local church choir, and local music. It was great to get some of the local vibe that night and we sat and drank kava with the band and spoke about their way of life. It was a lot of fun!

Another activity was a cave exploration trip that requires you to swim underwater to get into the cave. We loaded the boat up with the 6 people we had become friends with and headed out. Thinking it would just be our boat would have made too much sense, and when we got there, it turned out to be about 30 people! At first the inner cave was a dark quiet place, but then all the backpackers came in and it became a dark, loud cave with everyone kicking each other while treading water. Not a comfortable feeling...claustrophobia definitely comes to mind. However, swimming underwater from the dark cave out into the light was a neat sensation.

Fiji was the perfect ending to our time abroad and left us ready to get back to the States. We are thrilled to be in Alaska and to meet our new nephew, Owen. Our plan for the next couple of days is to reintroduce ourselves into American culture, get in some great hikes, and to eat as much mexican food as we can handle. First steps today were a trip to Costco, activation of our cell phones and a huge burrito!

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