With the threat of another winter similar in nature to the one we had last year, I was elated last spring when my good friends Mark and Peggy LaPorte suggested that we spend part of the winter months in New Zealand. After looking at various plans, Mark found a fantastic ticket that included traveling first to Fiji for a week and then on to Christchurch, NZ. Since, neither they nor I enjoy being part of a tour group, unless we absolutely can’t avoid it because of security or a language barrier, we opted to find our own accommodations and transport on Fiji as well as NZ. Traveling on your own, as opposed to traveling in a group , allows the traveler to choose places and things to do that are less touristy. It allows one to get off the beaten track and discover hidden gems one might not see if traveling with a tour.
As many of you know, Mark and Peggy, my traveling companions, have been in my life since the late 60’s. Mark and I were graduate students in history at the University of Alaska. Later, Peggy and I taught in the Yu’pik community of Bethel before heading south to Southern California to grow hydroponic tomatoes on a farm. Although the experiment of being farmers only lasted two years, the friendship that was forged in Alaska and Southern Cal has lasted more than forty-five years.
So today I am saying good-bye to winter and taking off from Boston and flying to LA where I will be meeting Mark and Peggy. I’m not looking forward to the ten hour flight from LA to Fiji but then again, it’s shorter then the trip to Perth, Western Australia. Unlike Tom Hanks in the movie Castaways, I’m looking forward to the week in Fiji.