Auckland, New Zealand

Crime Comes to Fiji!

We made it to New Zealand. But first, we should finish up with Fiji. After yet another exhausting Fiji bus ride, we arrived back in Nadi to the waiting of Mama from Tropic of Capricorn. The Fiji bus is dirt cheap (about US $5 for a 4 hour cross-country trip), dirty (the seats appear to last have been cleaned in the 1970s and leave pleasant “souvenirs” on your pants), and bumpy (especially when travelling over the dirt road sections). If you happen to be 6’5″ (as I do), there is not much leg room. Oddly, the bus attendant checks your ticket about every five minutes. Also, most of the buses are made in India, and appear to be Indian hand-me-downs! Two more things: 1. when someone wants to get off, they press a button or ring a bell to alert the driver. On the Fiji bus, someone will press the button, and only after the bus has come to a complete stop, begin to pack up their belongings (a dozen plastic bags, a 20 kilo sack of rice, a few kids), then slowly make their way to the front, stopping along the way to say “goodbye” to their friends, the bus driver, and anyone else they can think of. 2. The bus will move forward about 10 feet (no joke!) and then someone else will ring the bell. Arrgghh!

Anyway, we made it back to Nadi and were taking care of our final business before we left for New Zealand, when we heard some shouting in the next room. The Danish couple that were staying in the room started coming in and out of the room and soon Momma and Temo (her assistant) were rushing in and out. Someone had broken into the room and stolen FJ$900 ($450 US) from their room while we were all eating on the patio (just 4 feet away and in the daylight). Apparently they had slashed the screen window and snuck in. We were quite surprised and hurried home to keep an eye on our stuff as well.

The next day we asked Momma what had happened and she told us that the policeman did not believe the Danish couple’s story. Apparently there were some strange incongruities:

1. Why did they have some much Fiji money when they were leaving for Australia at 1 AM that night?
2. Why didn’t anyone see anyone breaking in?
3. Why didn’t the thieves take their $2000 US Sony digital videocamera?
4. The Danish boy would leave money in Momma’s safe while in other parts of Fiji and then call her several times a day to make sure that his stuff was still there. She said she had to start screening her calls.
5. The first thing he asked about was insurance. He was there at Momma’s a few days ago when someone else was robbed and the person robbed was reimbursed from Momma’s insurance (it was cancelled right after that because there was too many robberies at her place and the other hostels in the area).

Strange… You be the judge.

Today in Auckland, we ran into a couple we meet in Fiji who had money, cameras, and clothes stolen from their room in Fiji.

Well, needless to say we made it out alive.

And now we are in Auckland, which is making Cheryl very happy. Three reasons: 1. It is cold. 2. There are lots of shops, restaurants, and nice places to stay. 3. They have several Mexican restaurants (she has already had a burrito!).

Auckland is a lovely city which reminds me of a cross between San Francisco and London. We are staying in a small cozy room in Ponsonby Backpackers. Ponsonby is a funky neighborhood with lots of retaurants and shops. It seems to be a largely gay area.

Today we went to the top of the Sky Tower (which dominates the skyline and is a little larger than the Eiffel Tower). We are staying in Auckland for 4 more days and then we will start travelling to the rest of the country, as there is not that much to do or see in Auckland aside from eating out and drinking cafe coffee. Even the Auckland residents have told us we need to see the country to see the “real” NZ. This is a definitely a country of outdoors enthusiasts.