Thanks to Mick's good mate, Ken Nobin, he had been invited to teach a Masters course at the University of Fiji. Thus, as the clouds gathered and the wind blew on a wintry Sydney Friday, he headed for the sunshine.
The flight with Air Pacific may have been a look into the future for Qantas - flying a subsidiary with all the benefits of off-shored staffing and maintenance. The three and a half hours passed uneventfully using my new Kindle - whose only disadvantage over a real book seems to be that you can't use it during take-off and landing. On landing I strolled (I kid you not) from the terminal to the Trans International - the establishment used by the University of Fiji to put up staff.
There were a few little hiccups - no sink plug, TV remote had a shonky volume control, no bed-lamp, alarm clock on the fritz - but how can you grizzle with such friendly staff - and all of the issues were sorted while I was out in the morning!
Wahab, my colleague here collected me and took me to the uni this morning at 0830. I had hoped to collect copies of the handout material I had sent, but it was still in process. So, after a quiet mooch around, I lashed out the $1.90 (Fiji) for a bus trip into Nadi. Little had changed in a year, with the same touts flogging the same tat - but I took up an invitation from one of them, Ben, and went to a little back street establishment where we had a kava ceremony as a way of softening up the punter- ie me. They explained how all the stuff was made. They showed me how they get the dark stain by soaking the wood in a particular kind of mud, and one of the young guys was decorating a bowl as i sat there- work for a steady hand. They reckon there is about a week's work altogether in making one bowl - so how could I refuse??
When we were here last year we visited the Sri Siva Subramaniya temple (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Siva_Subramaniya_temple) but as I had eaten meat, I could only see the outside. I took the full tour this time, and took the time to remember Soma's dad as I stood in front of the statue of Ganesh.
Picked up a few local supplies, hopped the bus (1.50) and had some crackers and cheese for lunch. Oh - did I mention last night's meal? I ordered a Lamb Seek Kebab here at the Trans - and as a world first, every piece of meat on the skewer had a bone. It must have taken hours to thread them!
Spent a few hours preparing for the first couple of days' teaching. Off tomorrow on the bike!