What the hell is a cyclone?

[Kneeling at our table at breakfast]
Resort dude: Hi! I'm the owner...
D&A: Hi! Thanks for dropping b...[Interrupted]
Resort dude: Yeah...uh-ha...we are evacuating you back to the main island because of cyclone Winston...
D&A: What the hell is a cyclone?
Resort: It is just like a typhoon!
D&A: What the hell is a typhoon?

Turns out it is the thing that ruins our Fijian vacation. And in this case, the largest recorded cyclone in the history of South Pacific at 200km in diameter. Thanks Winston! Jerk!

Zzzz Bad weather in SFO delays our SFO to LAX flight long enough that we would have missed our LAX to Fiji flight had we not scrambled to get ourselves on an earlier flight. In retrospect we shouldn't have! But we did make it, squeezed into coach seats on the very last row, no less. We catch our 12-hour flight to Nadi, hop on a puddle jumper to Yasawa Island, only to be evacuated back to the main island less than 24 hours after we arrive. Turns out Department of State's STEP program has been txt'ing warnings... while we are fast asleep in our beautiful brand new first class seats aboard Fijian Airways (yes, the was was indeed brand new complete with new-car-smell and prestine white leather seats.)

23/24 From the beachfront bure on a semi private island to be cooped up in a crappy room at the Sofitel — complete with a leaky ceiling — on the main Island. Granted, the crappy Sofitel is the only hotel on the main island with a generator and hence electricity, albeit 23 hours out of 24, and some trickling of internet.

Lou & Dean We meet an Australia couple during our one night at Yasawa. We hit it off and they are our companions for drinks and dinner at Yasawa, as well as the evacuation, and during the four nights we were huddled on the main island. Fortunately for us Lou and Dean have stocked up on alcohol on the way out of duty-free. So for four days we eat, definitely drink, and effectively spend every waking moment together. Unlike us, they are smart enough to have travel insurance, and are amazingly generous and insist that we piggy-back on their claim. So on top of everything else we are mooches!

Windy The eve of the scheduled Winston landfall we walk out a Mexican restaurant Lou and Dean knew of. No cabs because of curfew, so we walk! How back could it be? The walk over is pleasant with a mild breeze. Turns out a lot of other had the same idea. The restaurant is packed! We sit on the patio, order drinks and food as our breeze progressively get stronger and stronger. We do not worry since the storm is still hours away. The walk back to the hotel is, shall we say, interesting, with winds that almost throw Lou off her feet.

Saris Back at the hotel, we realize that Winston is ahead of schedule! Doh! We are instructed to huddle in the one and only room with solid walls, a ballroom which is hosting an Indian wedding! Poor bride! We grab our passports, our pillows and sheets, and huddle with 500 of our fellow travelers and a slew of highly dressed people in saris! We snag a spot on the stage and away from the crowds. As Dan, Dean and most everyone else snore up a storm -- pun not intended -- Lou and I constantly check the news. Winston hits and moves on and we get the hell out of the ballroom the moment we can. Back at our rooms, we find ourselves dealing leaky ceiling, but we are definitely happy not to be in ballroom!

Spinny During the following few days Winston’s tail keeps on battering the island and our hotel — that’s the thing about a spinning storms — but we manage to have a ton of fun with Lou and Dean. The weather clears up on the last day, and we manage to dine with a beautiful view with our new friends.

Vacation might be ruined, but we have gained a pair of great friends. We look forward to seeing them again in the future.

Fiji, I think we are done with you.