Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Fiji! (3 of lots)

So, we pile on to the boat and take stock.  There are thirty-one passengers and a crew of about 7 (with maybe 6 more at the village).  The crew are all local.  The passengers all aren't.  We're all from English-speaking countries, with the exception of a couple from Germany (and the husband speaks English -- the wife nods a lot).  The rest of us are from the U.S., Canada, Britain, Australia and South Africa.  The passengers run the gamut age-wise, with several passengers who look to be grandparents -- although the crowd definitely skews younger, in the direction of college-aged, backpacking-through-the-world, seeing-Fiji-on-a-budget travellers.  (To my surprise, I am not the only one travelling alone.  There's also an early-20's guy from the States, a recent college graduate gal from Australia, and a single grandmother from England.)  On a safari-style cruise like this, it is inevitable the people start making "Survivor" jokes (and they did), but looking around, I could definitely see pretty much all of your Survivor "types" in our group of 31.

The ship itself is a sailing ship (Arrrr) conveniently armed with an engine.  As a rule, the passengers hang out on deck.  Below, there's a little area where we can get tea (in the literal sense, not the English sense -- they got a pot of hot water, some coffee mugs, some tea bags, some milk, and a "community spoon"), and below THAT are the toilets (with little plaques reading "Gentlemen, please be seated"), the kitchen, and a little room where our (substantial) luggage is stored on bunks.  The little room also houses an air conditioning unit, so when things get toasty, some of the passengers can go down there, push some bags around, and sit in a relatively cool climate.

When we board, the crew (with the exception of the captain and engineer) is standing there welcoming us with a song.  They've got a couple guitars and a smaller stringed instrument (ukelele?), and are strumming away, singing in Fijian.  Sounds pleasant and cheery.  I can't help but think, though, that these guys do two cruises a week, and they must get sick of putting on this "welcome show" every three or four days. 

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