This year I skipped Easter. I boarded my plane on Not-So-Good Saturday, the day before Easter, flew across the International Dateline and landed in Fiji on the Monday after Easter. Go figure.
I got off the plane, cleared customs, rented a car, and started down the Coral Coast. Stopped at Natadola, but they’ve changed the roads and I got totally lost. Finally made my way back to the Queens Highway. Rolled down to Waidroka to see my friends. I went first to Shiloh’s house … nobody home. No surprise, I never call beforehand so he didn’t know I was coming. I depend on the spirit wind to blow me in the right direction. So I walked up the hill to Megan and Ryan’s place … nobody home there either.
So I went and sat down in my car to get ready to leave, and Shiloh drives up. Gotta trust the spirit wind, once again it blew my direction. So we went into his house. Here’s the view from his porch.
He says, “Hey, I was just going out for a surf. Want to go?” Well, duh.
Just about then, the spirit wind keeps blowing. It blows my old friend and employer Mitch, who I haven’t seen in close to ten years, up to the door of Shiloh’s house. He’s living in the US now but just happened to be in Fiji. So, of course, he borrows a board from Shiloh and joins the surfing expedition. I’m expecting to go out in some small skiff, but instead, we go in Jeff’s boat, a lovely little Bluewater with a canvas top to keep out the sun.
On the way out of the harbor we see the floating raft, and the spirit wind has blown Ryan and Megan and the kids out there, they are enjoying the holiday on the ocean. So we have to pull up, and eat some of Megan’s chicken wings, and talk story and tell lies. Mitch says, “Hey, there’s an eel in the water at the end of the boat”, but instead it is a very large sea snake. The black-and-white poisonous kind. They’re a member of the cobra family, but lack fangs. Still very venomous. It’s no problem as long as it’s in the water, but then it crawls up on the underside of the raft and tries to come up through the deck boards. The kids jump up on the lounge. We look around the raft and discover there are two others crawling up underneath … we watch them as we catch up on what we’ve been doing.
We were scheming on going out to Frigates, but Ryan had already been out that morning. He says it was big, chaotic, and with a strong current running … I almost got swept out to sea by the current at Frigates one time, so we passed on that goat-rope and went to Serua instead. It’s a pretty little right-hand break on the fringing reef. We gear up and go in.
Now, I haven’t surfed in about five years. So I take off on about a head-high wave, make the drop, feeling on top of the world, go to turn right … and I bury the nose, and I’m immediately over the falls and in the washing machine. The bodyboard is ripped out of my hands, and I’m working as hard as I can to stay shallow and off of the coral. I roll over and begin the slow paddle back to the takeoff point, ducking under each incoming wave and letting the white water roll over me. I finally beat my way back to the outside.
My next rides were better, although they could hardly have been worse than the first one. But I didn’t care. I was out with my good friends in the tropical Pacific warmth. There was nobody out but us. The sky was blue, the water was blue, and I was in heaven. The good rides that I did eventually get were just the icing on the cake. I mean, how can anyone complain when the world looks like this?
In the evening we went down to the Beach House for dinner. It’s Andrew’s backpacker resort and it is always full of young people, great fun. We fit right in.
Then yesterday, Tuesday, was day two. For the past couple of months, I’ve been working out to get ready for surfing—running, walking, riding the stationary bike.
And while I’m sure it did a lot of good, you couldn’t have proved it by my condition yesterday. I was, to put it directly … whupped. My shoulders in particular were saying bad words. Plus hung over … not a pretty picture. I was definitely unfit for human consumption.
It’s now Wednesday morning here, and I’m in Pacific Harbour at the Skinny Bean Cafe, run by our lovely friend Janice. Re-animated by her steak pie and mocha coffee, I’m back in the world of the living. “Isa Lei” is playing on the radio … sweet. My gorgeous ex-fiancee and my daughter and her new husband are all showing up on Saturday. My dear lady got the house-sitter all arranged, and I’m sure they are all fanging for a vacation.
What on for tomorrow? Well, I suppose I could make a plan, but that damn spirit wind would likely just blow it to pieces, so I reckon I’ll just continue to drift along with it and see where it takes me. My local phone number is an almost-palindrome, 837-1378, give me a call in you’re in the area.
And for all of you … I can only wish that the spirit wind is kind to you, and that you can follow your own dreams wherever they may lead. Our time here is far too short. Surf while you can, for the night is coming wherein no man can surf …