This is just a post to let you know what it took for me to get back to my village in Fiji after spending a while on home leave in America.
7:30am left Lake Whatcom Area in Bellingham and drove 30 minutes to Alger bus stop
8:06am 80x bus from Alger to Lincoln Creek in Bellingham
8:23am 80x transfer to Samish Street in Bellingham
Waited at the McDonalds on Samish Way where the Bellair Shuttle picks up people headed down to the Sea Tac Airport
9:15am Bellair Shuttle from Bellingham to SeaTac Airport
11:45am arrive at SeaTac
Check in, roam around, enjoy the cold air a bit longer, got some good coffee and a Seattle Times Newspaper
1:55pm Leave SeaTac
4:40pm Arrive in Las Vegas
4:50pm Leave Las Vegas
6:10pm Arrive Los Angeles
6:10-11:50pm Layover in Los Angeles
Bought some Chinese food for dinner, bought 2 books, roamed around the airport, talked on the phone a bit, read
11:50pm Depart LAX to Sydney, Australia (14 hour flight)
October 21st was a bit of a blur. I woke up really early to hitch a ride with my good friend whose house I had been staying at while in Washington. The shuttle was relaxing and easy to catch down to SeaTac. I picked up a coffee at McDonalds and waited for the shuttle to arrive. The driver made a joke about how heavy my backpack was- saying something like, well there’s no way you would be hiking the PCT with that! (PCT= Pacific Crest Trail) which is true. When I finally checked in at SeaTac the bag weighed 50.5lbs. Now whose awesome at packing just the right amount of crap? This girl.
For those of you who don’t know, my burnt orange High Sierra backpacking pack was purchased in 2008 from REI on clearance for about $70. It has been all over the world with me (Europe, South America, North America, SE Asia, and the South Pacific) I named him Alcazar while traveling in Europe with a study abroad group and he has been a loyal pack ever since.
Anyway. I checked in Alcazar at SeaTac and walked around enjoying my last moments in the Pac NW and thinking about the insane amount of time I would be spending in transit. Spent the last of the money on a Starbucks card I had getting a coffee, madeline cookies, a banana and a Seattle Times. Purchased the book “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed. Walked and walked. Boarded the flight. Got peanuts and Ritz Cheese crackers, coffee and orange juice on the flight. Read. Landed in Las Vegas. Stayed on board as they loaded new passengers. Took off. Got orange juice and coffee, 2 packets of peanuts. Landed in LAX.
Got off the plane. Went to baggage claim. Waited for Alcazar. People stared as I hoisted the monstrosity on my back. Called my parents. Took the free Shuttle to the Tom Bradley International Terminal. Met a missionary to the Philippines waiting for the bus. Helped him find the International Terminal. Walked my pack up the stairs to departures. Checked in on Qantas Airlines for my flight to Sydney. Ran into a problem, they couldn’t check my bag all the way through to Fiji meaning I would have to “leave” the airport in Australia, go through customs and immigration and thus needed to purchase a $50 visa. For a 5 hour layover… was frustrated. Explained to the woman working that my flight had been changed 2 weeks prior from a direct LAX-Fiji flight to this new schedule being re-routed through Australia. Told her I wasn’t upset with her, just frustrated I would have to pay $50 to get into a country I wouldn’t be staying in and wasn’t my choice to go through. She called immigration. She approved my visa. She took my passport and I waited in line again to pay for my unnecessary visa. 10 minutes later I was called up by the manager who handed me my passport and boarding passes and he said, “Don’t worry I took care of it”. Felt relieved and lucky that people can be so nice. Went upstairs. Got a chinese food dinner. Walked around. Read my book. Talked to some friends. Wanted to get a drink but couldn’t imagine paying $11 for a margarita. Walked around outside. Went through security. Was commended by the TSA announcer on my preparation skills for going through security (apparently I’m really good at getting my shoes and jacket off, clearing out my pockets, taking out my computer and small bag of liquids before reaching the checkpoints. Got through no problems. Walked around some more. Bought Now & Laters. Kept walking up and down the airport. Got on the plane.
Qantas is amazing. I had a middle seat but plenty of room. I can’t sleep on planes and so I watched a few episodes of Archer, the movies Safe Haven, The Internship, The Great Gatsby, The Heat, and World War Z. Got a glass of red wine for free. Got orange juice. Dinner was some sort of beef/gravy with mashed potatoes and steamed veggies. Came with a roll, side salad, and a white chocolate/raspberry mousse. Kept watching movies and reading while everyone slept. Breakfast was a quiche with a slice of bacon and some tomatoes, yogurt, a muffin, fruit, orange juice, coffee and water. They gave us little snack packs which included a chocolate honeycomb snack, small potato chip bag, and an apple fig bar. Stole the travel toothbrush and toothpaste. Talked with the two Australians sitting next to me. Landed in Australia.
October 23- due to crossing the International Date Line and the length of the flight we miss a day on our travels.
8:20am arrive in Sydney Australia
8:20am-2pm Layover in Sydney
Because of the change in my schedule I had to go through security and customs/immigration in Australia which took forever meaning I had no time to get out and explore. I did buy a ridiculously expensive coffee and subway sandwich.
2pm Depart Sydney (3 hour 45 minute flight plus 1 hour time change)
7pm Arrive in Nadi International Airport
8:55pm Depart Nadi
9:10pm Arrive Nausori Airport
9:25-10 Taxi from Nausori Airport to Suva (Fiji’s Capital) where I stayed the night.
Landed in Sydney and went to baggage claim. Followed the masses and waited until Alcazar appeared. Hoisted him up yet again. Went through immigration and customs. Got a stamp in my passport. Went outside. Beautiful day. Sat outside and used their free Wifi to skype with my family. Walked upstairs to International Departures. Waited for over an hour with some Australian couples for someone to be at the Fiji Airways check in counter. After an hour they made an announcement they would check in guests at the other side of the airport.Threw my 50lb Alcazar over my shoulder and high-tailed it over to the check in. The woman who checked me in was really sweet. Gave me an aisle seat. Realized after going through all that I didn’t have time to explore and make it back in time. Resolved to just enjoy the airport. Wandered back and forth. Realized Australia is ridiculously expensive. Bought a cup of coffee for 4.60 bought a subway sandwich for lunch. Bought 2 more books. Bought bookmarks. People watched. Walked around a lot. Checked in for my flight.
Fiji airways sat next to a woman going back to her family in Australia. Spoke real Fijian for the first time in a long time. Got a crash course in re-introduction to Fijian food. Lunch was mayonaise ridden coleslaw, a small bun with some sort of meat inside it, and cheese melted over shredded carrots. Weird things. Came by later with a Blitz Ice cream bar. My favorite! Frozen solid. No movies so I read. Landed in Fiji.
Got off the airplane. Went through customs and immigration. The one really nice thing about coming back to Fiji is I get to go through the immigration line for residents and citizens, I don’t have to wait in line with all the tourists. SCORE. Picked up Alcazar. He was one of the last bags to come out. Went through biosecurity screening. Was asked if there was anything in my bag. They put It through scanners. I said no, just coffee. No dairy products, meat products, seeds, or fresh produce of any kind. Which was the truth. They didn’t know that 20.5 lbs of the stuff in my pack was food though…. Got through no problems. Thanked them and walked outside. Hot. Started sweating almost immediately. Walked my bag across to the domestic departures. Checked my bag in again to head over to Nausori airport. Waited. Got water. People watched. Realized that even though things (like the cars, busses, roads) are all backwards, that it made so much more sense to me. I was struggling in America. It felt normal to be back in Fiji. I didn’t feel like a visitor. I felt home. I missed it. Went through security. Walked out onto the tarmac and up the stairs to the domestic Fiji Sun Airplane. 11 rows in the plane.2 seats on each side of the aisle. 44 seats in total. Only 14 passengers. Ended up sitting next to the same woman who I sat next to from Australia. We were hooting and hollerin’ with everyone in the plane about being back in Fiji. Before taking off the flight attendant passed out water, the Fiji Sun newspaper and moist towlettes- felt so good to scrub grime off my face. Relaxed. 15 minutes later landed in Nausori. Plane only goes up to 9,000 feet. Got off on the tarmac in Nausori. Walked over to baggage claim. Exhaustion is setting in at this point. The baggage claim is just an oval track set outside. The Airport workers drive over the bags and then place them on the track one by one so they go around and people can pick them up. Once again hoisted Alcazar onto my shoulder and walked out the gate and hailed a cab. Took the cab to the hotel the PC puts us up in and ironically couldn’t fall asleep. Watched Fiji 1 TV until I finally crashed and slept for 6 hours.
This was the major travel associated with my trip back home to Fiji. All in all, the above portion took 39 hours.
October 24- Enjoy Suva. Sleep. Take a hot shower. Take care of some Suva work/business.
1pm Depart Suva Bus Stand
5:35 arrive in the village.
If you want to know the details of this section of the trip, look up my post, “Getting Home, It’s Harder Than You May Think!” posted a little while ago.
So this entire trip, minus the down time I have in the Capital adds up to 43:35 hours. Then I’m home.