A Fijian Disaster (no not really, dont panic)
01/23/2012 - 01/24/2012 80 °F
We arrived at the Nadi airport at 5am local time after our trans-pacific flight tired, but extremely excited to begin our journey. We were greeted by an absolute torrential downpour of warm summer rain that we were both excited (we both love it, maybe a by-product of growing up in hot midwestern summers) and apprehensive about. It was so bad that much of the inside of the airport was roped off to prevent people from slipping or getting dripped on by the flow coming through the roof. Our reservations for the next two days were at Ratu Kini Backpackers, on Mana Island in the Mamanucas, an hour long boat ride from a nearby port.
We walked around the airport and found a nice woman who worked at a travel agency on the second floor. At this point all we wanted was to figure out how to get on the boat to Ratu Kini's but she quickly convinced us that was a horrible idea not just because of the weather but that making our 1pm flight on wednesday would be challenging as the first boat off the island would only get us to Nadi a little after 11 - not really enough time. So with that in mind we settled on another island resort called Sonaisali that was, by taxi, only about 30 minutes south of the airport and 500 meters off the coast. Its supposed to be the closest place with the beautiful white sand beaches that Fiji is famous for and since we're only here for two days it seemed like the best option.
With visions of crystal clear blue water and vain notions of sunshine still in mind, we jump into in a taxi and head out. The rain, combined with our body heat and the humidity in the taxi fogs it up pretty badly and so the driver is forced to keep his window open. This causes him and me (who is sitting in the back seat behind him) to be continuously pelted with rain. He has a handkerchief which he uses alternately to wipe his face and the front window but I have nothing. After about 15 minutes the taxi is stopped dead by a gigantic pool of water. The other lane is clearer than ours so we wait our turn. While we wait, the cars coming by create huge waves of water that come directly through the open window and into my face/lap. While Annie and I crack up in the backseat the driver seems oblivious to the soaking that we and his cab are getting though he does give his face a token wipe after each wave. Another 10 minutes down the road the driver begins to get nervous as he sees all the traffic coming in the other direction. Stopping and talking with another driver further convinces him that the road up ahead is impassable and that we need to turn back.
We think the best course of action is to head back to the airport where we have transportation and information but when we get back to the first pool, the water is even higher than it was before and the driver turns towards the city of Nadi instead. When we get there the shops are closing up and most people are leaving as all the streets but the main one we're on are already completely flooded. We're getting slightly nervous and, apparently, so is the driver as he tells us to stop talking to him because "he needs to think clearly". He mumbles something about dropping us off in the city but is also talking about how all the streets in town will soon be underwater. It is still only about 8am. At this point, completely confused by the options he is presenting us with I actually start feeling a little scared that he's going to drop us off with all our bags in a town that's about to be completely under water. We re-iterate we would like to be taken to a place that will not flood, and he seems to think that if he can get through the town that we will be on higher ground and he'll be able to get us to a hotel.
With a bit of luck that's exactly what happens and soon we breathe a sigh of relief as we get to a new road which appears to be free of flooding. The first hostel he tries to leave us at has a courtyard where we see a teenager with a bag held high above his head wading through knee deep water. Annie has the good sense to tell him we are not getting out of the cab at this one. The next one is Smugglers Cove - ironically one of the places the travel agent recommended an hour ago as a cheaper alternative to our white sand beach resort. We gratefully pay the man and head in.
Its now tuesday afternoon and we're still there, safe and sound, reading on our kindles and waiting for our flight out tomorrow morning. Not exactly what we had in mind when we envisioned 2 days in Fiji! For the record, this is the first thing we overhear at the hostel's cafe.
Aggressively Tan Girl: It's been nothing but beautiful and sunny for the past 16 days. I was getting kind of sick of it, so the rain is actually nice.