Fiji - Getting There

I am a big fan of the weather. I enjoy experiencing a wide assortment of elements throughout the year. I like the variety and the changing of the seasons. Granted when I was in Arizona and we had 330 days of sunshine... that wasn't bad either.

This winter in New York though is easily the snowiest I can ever remember. It seems like it has snowed every single week when usually it seems we don't get our first big snow storm until February.

And since I live and work a block away from a subway stop, and don't have a car, the fact that we have been virtually abused by snowfall hasn't made me that upset. Honestly the city is prettier under new fallen snow. Granted the nasty black tire slurpee the streets turn into after it snows is another story but hey, I try to see the good.

Usually New York winters get so brutally cold that your face freezes and the wind makes you angry. You find yourself walking up the street at a forty-five degree angle on a particularly blustery day screaming at the wind:

Stop it! Just stop damn it!

But when it snows it at least gives the cold purpose. Like that was its job, to produce cold. And it succeeded. Good job weather!

And I do love the snow. I think it’s beautiful and amazing. I revel in it. I stare at it. I soak it in. I take pictures of it. I think it is the coolest thing in the world… until I have to go somewhere.

As the vacation I had spent the last two months planning approached, I became more and more aware of just how panicked the weather can make you (and by you I mean me) when the country’s biggest snow storm and your two week trip to Fiji fall on the same day.

Let me back up.

I won a trip to Fiji last year for a video I made for the Fiji Water Air Pacific contest. Two round trip tickets from Los Angeles to Fiji.

And that's F-I-J-I ladies and gentlemen. Not FIGI as every single person I know seemed to be calling it.

So I had to first get the time off, find a travel buddy, and then actually book the trip, which was like trying to teach an otter to play the saxophone.

At least that’s how it felt.

Here's the abbreviated version:

I call the Fiji hotline 4 different times to check available dates (I didn’t trust the operators I spoke to).

I call Fiji to book my trip. They say call the main office.

I call the main office, they say I must call Fiji back and tell them to book it for me.

I call Fiji back, and the same dude says I must call the main office and go through them.

I say NO! You book it!

He books it.

I have to mail in my certificate proving I won. I do so. They don’t receive it.

Now I have to fax it.

And of course this is the one day of the year I am home sick from work with the winter plague.

At home, I don't have a fax machine. I don't have a scanner. I don't even have really good handwriting. So instead... I now have to schlep myself to the copy store like an idiot. I feel like salty death. Its raining and I am now wearing snow boots, ASU tear away pants, a sweatshirt, and an orange down vest. I look like I am on the starting five of the home depot polar basketball team.

Did I mention I feel like death?

I get to the copy store and essentially… buy a fax? Because that's what I am doing. So I buy one fax to send to the Fiji people to prove I am not some random idiot calling to pretend I won a contest to fly 97 thousand miles around the planet just so I can plant my pasty white ass in the sand. There are a lot of places much closer where I could do that!

Eventually the fax is received and the peasants rejoice. And even though this is a trip that I won, I still have to pay taxes on the tickets. So after the back and forth my credit card is charged for roughly the same amount as the Louisiana Purchase.

And then days before my trip, I read reports of cataclysmic rains attacking Australia and the warning of a CYCLONE heading for that region of the earth the same time I am due to arrive.

It is as this point that I realize I have no idea what the hell a cyclone is.

So I Google cyclone.

And then I Google “How to survive a cyclone” where I find my 2 favorite tips.

Protect yourself with rugs and blankets.

Never assume the cyclone is over.

Right, because I’m sure my jungle beach hut made out of grass in the middle of equatorial nowhere in the middle of the Pacific will have an abundance of “rugs and blankets.” I’m not packing those either.

And never assume the cyclone is over? So what am I supposed to do, just walk around the rest of my life hoping the cyclone is over but carrying a bag full of rugs and blankets just in case?

Hey Rich what’s with all the rugs and blankets?
Oh there was a cyclone 5 years ago, but I’m not sure it’s over yet.

Once I managed to finally wrap my head around that awesome bit of fear the snowstorm of the millennium hits, well, America.

With it comes snow and freezing rain so severe that news anchors are going outside and punching ice... to prove how icy it is.

I even saw a newscaster pointing out all the different kinds of ice. Ice in the snow. Ice in the trees. Ice on the sidewalk. It was like Dr. Seuss was doing the news. Hell it probably would have been better if Dr. Seuss did the news, I love it when things rhyme.

So I check my airline to see there are six flights to Los Angeles the day I leave. The first four have been cancelled before I even wake up. Mine is the sixth. And by the sheer will of the universe, I make it to the airport, onto my plane, and off to L.A with no issues.

And so began 10 of the most amazing days of my life.

To Be Continued…