Bill Cash­more tries to be in two places on the same day

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - One Perfect Day -

LAST year, I made a mess of my first wed­ding an­niver­sary by fool­ishly tak­ing my wife’s plea to not make a big thing of it at face value. She was dis­ap­pointed by the lack of any­thing bar a sim­ple (but heart­felt) ver­bal ac­knowl­edge­ment.

This year I spot­ted an op­por­tu­nity to make amends by hav­ing two wed­ding an­niver­saries. The first in Fiji and then, by jump­ing on a plane, cross­ing the in­ter­na­tional date­line and shoot­ing back a day, hav­ing a sec­ond in Los An­ge­les. A sim­ple no­tion and a chance to rec­tify the pre­vi­ous year’s golden, or, should I say, pa­per er­ror.

Stay­ing at the Koro Sun Re­sort on Vanua Levu, Fiji’s sec­ond largest is­land, the first an­niver­sary went well.

We rose early to kayak with Tim Tam, our lo­cal guide, and Rod and Glenda, a semifriendly cou­ple from Bris­bane. Our des­ti­na­tion was the large, glo­ri­ously iso­lated Salt Lake with its float­ing magma from an­cient vol­canic erup­tions. It makes kayak­ing a bit like ne­go­ti­at­ing the crou­tons on top of a gi­ant bowl of soup.

The lake is full of the most won­der­ful fish, al­though Tim Tam was vague about spec­i­fi­ca­tion. ‘‘ Those are red ones and those are brown ones,’’ he said at one point.

Back at the re­sort, break­fast was cli­maxed by the tri­umphal en­trance of a large choco­late cake pa­raded by six mem­bers of the con­sis­tently jolly staff. One of them had am­a­teur­ishly but lov­ingly iced it in the man­ner of home-made birth­day cakes of the early 1970s, be­fore ev­ery­one bought them. They sang a spe­cial Fi­jian an­niver­sary song and there were hand­shakes and mini-hugs from Rod and Glenda. So far, so good.

Af­ter a cou­ple of hours snorkelling, we were whisked off to the air­port at Savusavu to fly to Nadi for our in­ter­na­tional flight. It was only 40 min­utes late, ex­cel­lent by ca­sual Fi­jian stan­dards, and as we boarded the tiny plane, all looked set for the two smil­ing pi­lots, who had waved en­er­get­i­cally to us on ar­rival, to get us back to the main is­land. Ex­cite­ment was be­gin­ning to build.

Then the smil­ing pi­lots tax­ied too close to the ter­mi­nal build­ing, lit­tle more than a large shed, and wedged the tip of the wing against its side. They did not no­tice at first, but pan­icky wav­ing from the sin­gle ground crew mem­ber meant we all had to dis­em­bark and help push the plane back­wards. There was a hole in the wing and the smil­ing pi­lots were sud­denly be­ing ac­cused of muck­ing about and not show­ing suit­able re­spon­si­bil­ity. They car­ried on smil­ing nev­er­the­less.

Gaffer tape was men­tioned but it soon be­came clear that we would not be leav­ing that day. Pas­sen­gers sud­denly be­gan talk­ing to each other in an­i­mated de­tail; a com­mon oc­cur­rence when mis­for­tune throws peo­ple to­gether. I tend to keep away from oth­ers in th­ese sorts of sit­u­a­tions as I dis­like the one­up­man­ship of who has the most com­pli­cated ru­ined lo­gis­tics.

Al­though, fun­nily enough, this was won con­vinc­ingly by a pretty lit­tle Aus­tralian girl who said to me sadly, ‘‘ I just want to go back to school.’’ I like to think other school­child­ren would have sim­i­larly im­pres­sive at­ti­tudes when stuck in the glo­ri­ous sun­shine of a Fi­jian is­land with the prospect of an ex­tended hol­i­day.

It was in­ter­est­ing to note how the cul­tural stereo­types be­gan to ap­pear un­der duress. ‘‘ How do we go about claim­ing com­pen­sa­tion?’’ was the open­ing gam­bit from the Amer­i­can cou­ple. ‘‘ You need to start talk­ing to us, mate, we are miss­ing beer time,’’ in­sisted an Aus­tralian. ‘‘ And I won­der, is there any chance of us­ing the tele­phone at all, please?’’ from the Bri­tish.

Of course, all this meant wed­ding an­niver­sary take two was not go­ing to hap­pen. And con­se­quently we did not ar­rive in Los An­ge­les for lunch, we did not book into the Mon­drian Ho­tel on Sun­set Boule­vard and re­lax on mag­nif­i­cent day beds by the pool and did not eat a sump­tu­ous, can­dlelit din­ner in the Mon­drian’s in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed restau­rant. In­stead, we trudged back to the Koro Sun. ‘‘ Oh you’re back, are you?’’ said Rod and Glenda. ‘‘ Since you left the fun’s re­ally be­gun.’’ Clearly, it was us who had been the semi-friendly cou­ple, as they were hav­ing a whale of a time with their new pals, Mi­lan and Pat­tie, both fresh from the US.

We did even­tu­ally re­peat a day, but it was the day af­ter our cot­ton cel­e­bra­tion. Next year, I may have an­other go: Tonga and Hawaii, for ex­am­ple. Al­ter­na­tively, we could cross the date­line go­ing the other way (Hawaii then Tonga) and com­pletely lose a day: our wed­ding an­niver­sary per­haps. The Spec­ta­tor

Il­lus­tra­tion: Dave Fol­lett

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