[Journal entry from April 14, 2012. I'll be back-posting these travel posts as I write new entries.]
After spending time in both Australia and New Zealand, I think I’m genuinely reaching a point where I actually look forward to meeting locals. This is a pretty radical thing for me since I’ve been a stereotypically shy geek for most of my life. I don’t know if it’s entirely as a result of my travels, or simply because I’m getting older and am giving less of a damn what people think of me than I did when I was, say, 22.
So imagine how elated I was this morning when I boarded my plane in Auckland for Nadi, Fiji, and discovered my assigned seat-mate would be a bona fide Fijian. Given the renowned reputation of Fijians for being incredibly friendly, I figured that a chat with my seat-mate would be fun and informative. I’d get a bit of an “insiders view” the country I was about to spend the next two weeks in, and was excited by the prospect. That’s not to diminish from the time I’ve spent over the past couple of months immersed in Aussie and Kiwi culture, which are distinctive, but they’re still 1st world, English speaking ex-British colonies that watch most of the same TV shows and eat most of the same foods I’m used to back home. Fiji is my first truly foreign destination, and I was lucky enough to not be seated next to one of the many tropical-resort-beach-seeking tourists.
Or so I thought. My feelings of elation and luck would dissipate pretty rapidly, as it turned out. In fact, not long after we passed 10,000 feet and my seat-mate ordered his first Fiji Gold.