|As I reflect on the Fiji portion of our trip, couple interesting points of note:
1) The country, which was colonized by the British many years ago, still feels very English in its culture - drive on the left, Queen's english spoken, significant number of residents from another English colony, India (almost as many as Fijians).
2) The country, and certainly the island of Vinata Levu, is far more mountainous than I realized yet none of the mountains are the result of volcanoes (at least according to our taxi driver). We couldn't see this driving to the hotel as it was dark, but very different in the daylight
3) The primary export/industry other than tourism is farming of both sugarcane and pine trees. The former made sense, the latter not so much. Turns out they do a ton of tree farming and export the wood to other islands in and around Fiji
4) Despite a decent amount of commerce and a really nice hotel 45 minutes from the city center, the country has the look and feel of a third world country - power cut off once at the hotel for about 60 seconds until their backup generators kicked on, the villages that we passed on our way to the airport were shanty laden, people walking along the road side as that was their primary mode of transportation, livestock in 60% of the yards we passed, etc. Doesn't mean it will stay that way as there were numerous indications of progress - new school buses for children, new power plant and a CRAZY number of auto detail shops.
5) I really like beach trips - at each one I think I'm going to be bored after a few days, but instead, we always seem to find our rhythm and enjoy the relaxed pace of life that being at the beach offers. This trip was no different.
Oh yeah, different taxi driver this time - Shaiku was his name and we had the good fortune of stopping by his house on our way to airport so he could pick up a little lunch from the wife. He doubles as an auto mechanic and can fix anything (according to him - bit of a dubious claim as the Toyota Sienna we rode in felt like it was on its last legs, kept beeping for 15 seconds at a time every 10 minutes and the transmission felt like any serious hill might be its last).
Lastly, airport in Nadi is brand new (another sign of progress) and was a really nice experience. If you are coming through here, expect good food, plenty of stores, clean and modern restrooms and free wifi. Definite bonus. Off to Melbourne....