My bag is packed, my mom sewed a patch on the back for me, and my plane leaves tomorrow. I’ve been wanting to go for so long that finally going doesn’t feel completely real, though I confess I have a twinge of not nervous-scared but rather nervous-excited. Whatever happens in the next six months will be interesting and undoubtedly different than anything I’ve done before, so I am quite willing to see what will happen.
I think I’m supposed to finish this off with something profound, but instead I’ll just finish with the same anecdote I had before I went off on my study abroad in New Zealand (don’t worry, once I’m actually somewhere I will have lots of pictures and new material!)-
Around the beginning of January when my dad started looking into purchasing my ticket, he realized that it was prohibitively expensive to buy a ticket to the bottom of the world on such short notice. The solution? Eighty-thousand frequent flier miles.
Of course, I was not the only one who wanted to fly to New Zealand using such an ingenious method, so the US Airways representative was having a hard time finding a possible route for me. After twenty minutes of muzak and us becoming steadily convinced we’d been forgotten, she finally came back on the line.
“There’s a way to do it? Great!” my dad exclamed, as I listened on to his side of things. “Uh-huh… how do you spell that exactly?”
After a stream of letters from the representative, my dad cupped his hand over the phone. “Yvette, can you look up where Nandi is? You’re flying through there.” I gave my dad a slightly perplexed look, because this was certainly something out of the ordinary. I’m pretty good at geography and my dad is somewhat of a globetrotter (in case the 80,000 frequent flier miles didn’t tip you off), so anyplace we haven’t heard of between the two of us is probably off the beaten path.
Typing “Nandi” into Wikipedia revealed a redirect page telling me that Nadi could refer to several places. A district of Western Kenya? Probably not. A range of hills in India? Nope. A daughter of the Langeni tribe? A daughter of the what now?
As the last entry, Wikipedia kindly mentioned that Nandi can actually mean “Nadi,” a city in Fijian citi whose name is pronounced “Nandi” in Fijian language. Aha! “It’s in Fiji,” I finally told my dad, and he nodded.
“Right,” he said to the representative, “that sounds perfect.”
I looked at my dad the way you stare at a person who’s not quite with it. “Dad, they just had a military coup!” I exclaimed. A Fijian general had ousted the legitimately elected president in early December, and from what I heard he’d done a great job supressing freedom of speech rights and the right to free assembly.
“Oh. Well, you’ll be fine at the airport,” my dad said. I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or roll my eyes, so I settled on both in rapid sucession.
My dad hung up the phone and had one more word of advice on the subject: “Don’t tell your mother.” I figured she’d hear about the coup d’etat eventually, unlike overflowing the dishwasher it’s not something you can hide from your mother very long, but I agreed. She didn’t find out until about a week ago when I let it slip by accident, and by then it was too late to do much about it.
And for those wondering Fiji ended up being perfectly fine, though I could have done without the army guys with the too-large guns and the too-new uniforms. But then these are the things we put up with so we can tell our parents two years later “look mom and dad, my first stop is Japan! There isn’t a State Department Travel Advisory for this one!”
I’m being flippant, I know, but that’s the only way you can half-expect to keep everyone’s attention despite a large block of text and no pictures and I will quit while I’m ahead. So be good while I’m gone everyone! Catch you on the flipside.