I arrived in Fiji during a dengue fever outbreak. I think this might have thinned out some of the normal volume of travelers.
I took scuba course while staying at Matava, the astrolab hideaway on the island of Kandavu, Fiji. I have always had trouble with my ears, descending at some airports is unbelievably painful. I have tried remedies from many flight attendants around the world and have found nothing that truly works. You see some chick rocking back and forth, looking like she is going to throw up and crying, that might be me. Sometimes the pain has eased to a dull pain by the time I hit the terminal and sometimes not so much. Not like that is going to stop me though. It did put the breaks on my scuba certification though. What the hell, snorkeling is cool anyway.
Excerpt from journal dated January 31, 1998 (Suva, Fiji airport headed to island of Kadavu):
The airport was very small and only 2 airlines seemed to operate- Air Fiji & Sunflower. It was busy there. Waiting to check in, a woman asked me to help a girl, Sula, as she was flying the first time and would be going alone. She was 14 and today was the first time she had seen a car or an airplane. She knew of them, but had not actually experienced either, until today. She grew up on the island of Motuku in the Southern Lau Group. Only about 6 villages on the island. The youngest of about 7, she was headed to the Methodist Secondary School on Kadavu. She knew a bit of English. (very little but still more than my Fijian) Mostly we smiled and used hands.
There were only 3 of us on the flight, it took 30 minutes and we landed on a grass airstrip. A small bure was the airport terminal. Ken, the boat taxi driver, met me at the airport. He carried my bag as we walked the narrow portion of the island to the other side. After wading out in knee deep water we climbed into a 16 ft long boat that had 2 wooden benches. Ken had to use a pole to push us out far enough to start the motor. There were many shades of blue and green water along the way.
Except for a few places near Vunisea (where the airport was) there were almost no structures visible along the shore. The boat ride took over an hour to get to my lodgings, Matava, the Great Astrolabe Hideaway, an eco based resort.
**There was a dengue fever outbreak in the islands and as a result there was more resort staff than guests. I had booked a backpacker bed which was in a building up on the hillside. Due to the absence of guests, they put me in a private beachfront mbure.