Bit by the bug at age 9 when my family moved to Germany for my father’s work, I relish travel Europe on 5 dollarsadventures. For four years we toured Europe off season guided by my mother who swore by Arthur Frommer’s Europe on Five Dollars a Day. We visited every cathedral, castle, museum. In Florence, Italy in a flea market, my parents bartered for two silver fighting cocks who decades later went AWOL. Later we glimpsed Queen Elizabeth II waving from an open car. We toured East Berlin before the wall came down, and walked through the concentration camp ovens in Dachau, Germany just before moving back to our hometown roots in the US.

Whether by land or by sea, I delight in exploring new cultures, landscapes, people, and cuisine. I return home refreshed with a new perspective on the world.

Just a few of my favorite places:

A Saharan journey by jeep to southern Algeria visiting Tuareg nomads and a wedding in the village of Ideles.

Southern Algeria
Ideles, Algeria
Ideles, Algeria
El Golea, Algeria 1980

Later a first trip to Morocco: camels, snake charmers, kilims, kasbahs, oases. The Majorelle, home/ museum of Yves St Laurent in Marrakesh.

Not just the fabulous restaurants, but gorgeous parks, museums, cathedrals of Italy, especially Il Duomo.
Monks chanting in the Abbey of Sant Antimo.

Flea markets and lavendar fields in Provence and les Baux, castles and gardens in the Dordogne, cafes in Bordeaux. Paris, anytime, any season, always.

Each of the four journeys to Nepal were unique and rich in their offerings: special people, the Himalayas including a trek toward the base of Annapurna and one to the northern village of Tipling, Nepal, remote villages, forests of rhododendrons, ancient temples and statues of gods and goddesses with offerings of dried marigolds, prayer flags strung from trees to stupas.     travellerspoint     ETC

Buddhist temples
1989 Nepal Nina C. 2_025
On the Womantrek hike to Annapurna range 1989
Kathmandu: woman's work 1989

Bhutan full moon festival at Paro, an exquisite riot of color and ectasy of the dancers, glee of the Buddhist nuns.

Cuba first by a land tour, then by sailboat. Lovely lithe warm people living so frugally yet generous with what little they have. Cayo Paraiso where Hemingway had a fishing shack now gone. Sailors we met along the way.  A cobalt blue bay of Maria la Gorda, filled with small jellyfish, dolphins diving in our bow wake, a waterspout, a swallow flew onboard to shelter from a storm, a swarm of no-seeums when we unfurled the sail, bartering for lobsters……

Favorite islands in the Bahamas: the Exumas, rugged remote isles most uninhabited, anchorages of great beauty and snorkelling above lobsters near the nurse sharks. Green Turtle Cay with the quaint village of New Plymouth and the sweetest junkanoo for the children on New Year’s. Great Guana Cay had a special snorkel spot under dilapidated docks, Elbow Cay has colorful homes, flower-draped walkways, and a candy-striped lighthouse. Eleuthera off the beaten track with its rugged beauty and secret beaches.

FIJI  December 2023 journal begins after these selected images.



Dark December departure  to Boston Logan for the flight to Los Angeles, then long layover squandering hours packed like sardines in the dinghy lounge like the airport in Delhi mid 1990’s.   Finally flying above the inky dark Pacific over the international dateline we lose December 6, 2023 forever crossing the equator to the Southern Hemisphere.

We arrive post-dawn over VITI LEVU, the biggest of Fiji’s 333 islands, and peer down at volcanic peaks and jungly slopes fringed by turquoise lagoons and gold coral reefs.  The airport at Nadi, pronounced Nandi, is sweltering. We are sped through customs to the small domestic terminal steps away with our rolling duffels. We are greeted by the warm smiles of Fijians who all say “Bula” which is hello in Fijian.  They dress in crisp floral dresses or shirts and dark pants. A few people wear the dark wrap skirts, called sulas, which land just below the knee or midcalf. Before boarding we are weighed with our carryon bags as the plane is so light it can’t be overtaxed. The hour long flight soars low over peaks and seas of many blues.

The second largest island, VANUA LEVU, is long and mountainous. The runway is short and the airport an open shed with one window and two taxis. Next destination is the town of Savusavu on its mid-south coast. It is small with dusty dirty potholed streets and ragged sidewalks, metal grates on storefronts and colorful signage selling housewares, hardware, and groceries contrasting with clothing stores which are modern and clean. We rent a small olive green Jeep.

Hibiscus Highway is a narrow two-lane road riddled with potholes.  Sigasiga Sands Resort, pronounced “singasinga” is a large property with bits of tropical vegetation and five scattered rustic cottages. We arrive at three-roomed Vonu Hut. A scrawny stray orange cat sprawls on the doorstep.  Everything is old and worn, but well stocked. Water from an artesian well is abundant and tasty.  We dine at the Sandbar restaurant as sun sets at Koro Sands Resort.

Sunrise, sea on reef, dew on grass, no cat.  Dinner at Surf and Turf behind the Captain’s Table at the Copra Marina at the end of the shops area.  Next day, Colin of Koro Sands Divers at Savasi Island Resort sends us out with Sam and a driver who bangs and smashes us over the waves for 25 minutes to Turtle Alley where the coral and fish are bountiful and the drop-off wall to the deep blue impressive. I glimpse turtle markings, then he disappears again. Illusive.    (I will be posting a slideshow of reef pictures on my PISCES pages soon.)

We explore the south east coast on a dust and stone-studded dirt road with speed bumps before and after every little village. Tethered cattle, goats and horses munch grass on the roadsides. An occasional walker  totes a bundle, small trash fires smolder, tides rises on rock-strewn beaches, buses pick up and drop off local folks, Fijians dress darkly for funerals, or in flowerful dresses, skirts, sarongs, feet in flipflops or bare, sit on stoops of corrugated huts in variegated royal blues, oranges, shocking pinks, mellow yellows, lime greens, true purples. Mangroves, poinciana, coconut palms, red crotons grace gardens. A Sunday drive to Labasa in the north reveals tropical mountains, lush plains of sugar cane fields, one café at the roadside with a misty vista, mongoose streak across the road, sleek horses run loose, common myna birds playing chicken with our car. Labasa is dusty, uninteresting with a dying strip of local venues, Indian and Fijian, selling food, housewares, clothing, as a newly developing mall threatens their futures.   We gas up and dash back to dine in Savusavu at Snowy House and the Grace Road Kitchen’s delicious noodles and veggies with “nutrela,” soy nuggets which look like cat food. The kumquat juice is refreshing.

Back on the main island, VITI LEVU, our emerald green rental car takes us into downtown Nadi, pronounced “Nandi”. We buy a small pink rolling carryon and a mound of papayas at the outdoor market and peer at the Sri Siva Subrahmaniya Swami temple and long white Natandola Beach.  Heading along the Queen’s Road to the Coral Coast, we stroll at the Kula Eco Park where I linger with the peacock who fans his tail then turns fleetingly to show black eyes of the iridescent neck and feathers, as I whisper sweet nothings to him. The peahen watches jealously.

Uprising Beach Resort at PACIFIC HARBOUR is a beachfront villa with high beamed, peaked ceilings and a large stoned outdoor shower. One day we journey to the capital Suva in bumper-to-bumper traffic, where there is a bustling town, a few high rises, a small Fiji Museum and shopping for shirts.  A warm pool swim capped the evening.

We continue our counterclockwise circumnavigation on the Queen’s Highway, a two lane road.   Several near misses from oncoming traffic, including a police van, passing in our lane keep us alert.   We arrive at Volivoli Beach Resort to snorkel from a boat, then drive to DuaDua Beach Resort in Rakiraki at the northeastern tip of Viti Levu’s arid sunshine coast.

Next, Club Fiji Resort ocean view bure on WAILOALOA BEACH at Nadi Bay.  A rundown place with a scruffy, dark sand beach, and pools with screaming kids.   The next morning we are taxied to a little dirt road and dirty beach where an Indian man sits at a picnic table, hands us forms, and collects Fijian $600 for a roundtrip to and from Mana Island.  There is no dock so we wet our feet boarding the ancient boat. Choppy seas bounce and break a metal part of the dodger which the captain binds with rope. We arrive at Mana Island dock and note he uses another short frayed rope.

MANA ISLAND RESORT AND SPA is hot as hell, breezeless, run down, barely shaded by sparse vegetation.  Unimpressed I momentarily regret not spending more for a higher quality experience, but the AC is fantastic and we snorkel right off the north and south beaches and by small boat off the east coast at a coral reef which is massive with an impressive drop-off with no visible bottom.  A meter long small reef shark spies on us and an 18 inch black and white striped sea snake slings away.  The buffets for breakfast and dinner are decent so we skip lunch.  The pools are clean, but lack adequate shade.

Back at Club Fiji we taxi to Port Denarau Marina to shop and dine at Coda’s.   Tomorrow we depart and may never return, but if we do Yasawa and or Kadavu Islands hold great appeal, especially if the snorkeling is as good as Mana Island.

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE FIJIAN PEOPLE    ref.  to the book Fiji by Minal Hajratwala

The history of these islands extends back to 1600-1300 BC  when the Lapita people inhabited Fiji. The Melanesians arrived in 500 BC, European explorers attempted unsuccessfully between 1600-1700.  Christian missionaries arrived in the 1830’s, a Fijian chief ceded to Great  Britain I 1874, followed by indentured laborers from India 1876-1916.  Independence was gained only in 1970, then Fiji became a republic in 1987 followed by several military coups and the repressive regime, though 2013 the constitution returned to democracy with a one-vote one person rule and banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression.  In spite of this, bullying persists as well as social discrimination.    As of 2016 LGBTQ folk did not have legal rights.

Fijians are comprised of various peoples:  the iTaukei indigenous, who live in villages ruled by chiefs in a traditional clan structure, Rotuma, Indo-Fijians descended from the Indian laborers, whites, and Samoans, Tongans, Solomon islanders, Chinese and climate refugees from Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Banaba.