Monday, August 25, 2008

The Fiji islands 1990-91.

South Pacific islands. Those words immediately conjure images of tropical paradise in everyone's mind. Well, it is. It's incredibly beautiful: coconut tree-filled islands with crystal-clear turquoise seas and white, endless sandy beaches.
What hit me as soon as I stepped off the airplane was the sweet smell in the air. I later discovered that the sweet smell is the coconut oil, infused with wild flowers, that every Fijian applies all over their skin. It was the hospitality and friendliness of the Fijians that impressed me the most. My friend and I were treated like royalty in each village we stayed in.

When I hear the word "Fiji", so memories comes to mind: the metal sound of yagona (kava) being pound, the policemen in a sarong in Suva, a nice day in Fiji is windy- those who have been there long enough know why it is so (and it's not because of the unbearable heat and humidity), the incredible smiles of everyone, the sweet mango juice running down my chin has I bite my mango, Garrick bar in Suva ( how the Fijians don't take alcohol very well!), finding Biko, an abandonned puppy, meeting Ruth-Ann, a good friend since, ...I could go on for hours.
Ao sega vulagi, ao kei Viti! (I'm not a foreigner, I'm Fijian!)- yes it made Fijians laugh.
"Come back someday my friend, to Leleuvia...", parting song sang at every tourists departure from Leleuvia island.
This photo was taken during a Nausori Highland trip on Viti Levu. No one wanted to drive the rented car across an overflowing bridge, so we asked so a local man did it for us. It was a main event and some kids came and swam in the river. Taken with my Agfa 1940-something camera.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sara E. Baxter

Before I go on with some of my most memorable travel experiences, I should tell you how it all started....well, not from the very beginning, that would take too long, but how I met my travel buddy during my second trip to Europe.

I had been living in London, England since April 1989 when I met Sara a few months later. We met when sharing a big 8-bed dorm, nicknamed "The Tree House", in the Pembridge Hotel, a Bayswater Backpackers. Those were THE most formative months in my life in more ways than one. Sara became my best friend and perfect travel buddy. Our 5 years of adventures took us hitch-hiking around Europe and the Canary islands, to Morocco, the USA, Oceania and Jamaica. In the 21st century, Sara became a mom, a gifted writer/poet/journalist. Although we have drifted apart for a while, we remain in touch to this day.

Here, you can see Sara trying to get us a lift (a "ride" means something entirely different in this part of the world.), somewhere on our way to the northest tip of Scotland.
Since the cars were few and far between, I started to sing while my thumb was out: “I can’t get no lift to Thurso....and I try and I try...” (Sang to the tune of “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones.)

This photo was taken with my 1940-something Agfa 120 camera.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The smoke that thunders!

Better known as Victoria Falls.

How I got there is another long story. While in Zimbabwe, I hooked up with Kiwi, Peter "Thinking-all-the-time" Johnson. He had transport (a bakkie), camping equipment, and needed someone to share the costs with. We spent a few turbulent days in Hwange National Park and drove to Vic Falls for a day.

What a breathtaking sight! This is the falls that Tarzan-of-my-younger-days jumped from. We came right after the wet season and the level of water was high. The mist drenched us. After visiting on the Zimbabwe side, we decided to be thorough and visit the Falls on the Zambian side. This is where this picture was taken. The mist was so, that kids were using it to slide along the bridge. I decided to try it out. Unfortunately for me, I "hit" a dry patch and fell .( on the bridge, not down the falls...) I wobbled for a few days after that. I like to say that I acquired an "african" toe nail!
This is one of my most popular photos and is for sale. Please ask me for details.