Monday, July 24, 2017

Big Boom and Departure
By Michael

It wasn't this dramatic, the camera is playing tricks.
We didn't know anybody at the party, but there were lots of interesting people to talk to. There were Pinto and Lara, our gracious and charismatic hosts and long-term Fiji residents famous for their 4th of July parties on their sprawling property fronting a windward Fijian beach. There were the visiting South Africans who willingly gave me their own take on the state of race relations at the tip of the African continent. There was the American couple—ex-pats like Pinto and Lara—who both descended from scientists who worked at Los Alamos during development of the atomic bomb. She was a precision welder before retiring and a total science nerd. "Richard Feynman is my hero too!"

Fortunately, it was towards the end of the evening, while the live band played, that Windy and I sat across the yard, farther than anyone from where guests launched the excitingly close fireworks show. As they exploded overhead we compared notes about the new people we'd met that night, about our time back on the boat in Fiji, and about our unhappy plans for the coming days.

Then Windy leapt up and began purposefully, desperately pouring what was left of the 40-ounce beer we were sharing into her ear.

"Are you okay?!" Another shower of sparks had just exploded our way following a boom across the yard.

"I need to get inside, I'm burned."

Here we are waiting to check in our bags in
the hold of the overnight ferry we took last month from
Suva to Savusavu. Interestingly, the M/V Lomaiviti Princess
was formerly M/V Queen of Prince Rupert, one of the
many heavily used BC ferry boats. She was built in 1966
and left BC for Fiji in July 2011. She's not doing well.
 Too much deferred maintenance means that rails are
rusting away and the public toilets back up and
flood the carpeted interior walkways. It ain't pretty.
For 45 minutes she kept her head under the flow of cool water from the kitchen sink. The inside of her ear was badly blistered and the skin had already sloughed off. She was in a lot of pain. I fended off a parade of inebriated well-intentioned advice givers. She did willingly pause from the water flow to allow a couple of the four veterinarians in attendance (one Scottish, one English) to take a look and offer reasoned assurances and care instructions.

We left when she was ready, a potted aloe plant under one arm, courtesy of Pinto and Lara.

The next day I was able to swab all of the powder residue out of her ear with a Q-tip saturated with burn gel. Apparently, a burning piece of firework had found its target in one of the little crooks in the inside of her outer ear. "I could hear it hissing as I extinguished it with the beer." She told me.

That was a couple weeks ago. She is healing. The pain is gone.

The following day I was gone, the unhappy plan in action.

We've long heard countless stories from cruisers older than we about the need to return home to care for parents, since our first cruising spell in the mid-1990s. Now I guess we are older. I left Windy and the girls in Fiji the afternoon of July 5 to return to the States to help care for my mom, to take some of the load off my dad and sisters. Fortunately, this will not be a long-term, cruise-ending event as it is for so many. I plan to return to Fiji to rejoin my family in early August. Unfortunately, we're all booked on a flight back to the States again in late September. So this sojourn interrupts an already brief Fiji cruise.

But that's life.

And overall, life is good. My job, the job of all of us, is to enjoy every bit of it to the extent we're able. For ourselves, for our kids.

Fortunately, Windy and the girls are able to do just that in my absence. Hopefully she'll soon report here from the islands. Stay tuned.


Scene from a bus we took from the hills above Suva down to
the city center. We love Suva, something about it, nice vibe.


  1. Wait a minute...Windy poured out beer?? I had to stop reading right there.

    1. Yes! I edited out my actual initial reaction to this, to put me in a better light.


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