The Life and Times of Bruce Bramson

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The red arrow point to the island of Fiji

Fiji from the air

Fiji is more mountainous than I expected

Nadi, Fiji 06 December 1968

For reasons never determined, the light-house boat didn’t go, so it was just another lazy day in and around Noumea. Can’t say I found the place all that charming. And last night was a real deuzy: the previous 2 nites cooled off enuf to enable sleeping under a sheet, but not last night. It was all too reminiscent of Gulf State Park [Alabama], with some of the most aggressive mosquitos I’ve encountered on the whole trip. Got to sleep around 4 AM, only to have to awaken at 6:30 for departure. Add to this a water shortage (no water after 8 PM), and you will see why I was not too sorry to leave. The plane was jammed with two large tour groups—only 3 passengers not on one of them—all bitching about poor accommodations, high prices, “mostiques”, etc., etc.

From these people and others I’ve pieced together a gloomy enough picture of Tahiti to make me willing to skip it altogether—astronomic prices, indifferent people, and spoilt scenery. Assuming I can make the arrangements, I will go instead to Tonga and to Western Samoa; then very briefly to Am. Samoa and directly to LA (stopover only in Honolulu). Flights to Tonga go direct from Suva, Polynesian Airways DC-3s, ditto to W. Samoa & A. Samoa.

It looks like Fiji is more interesting than New Caledonia. En Parle englais, which helps! Tomorrow I will take a boat from Loutoka to Tai for an afternoon of snorkeling, etc. Sunday hope to ride the free (!!) narrow-narrow gauge railway (about 2-ft gauge) its length hereabouts, and monday take a bus the 130 miles to Suva, Capitol of Fiji. Nadi (pronounced, approximately, “Nahndi”) is really quite a small place, but has some good surroundings. Fiji has left-hand drive again, and is still using £stg, though Jan 19 the switch to dollar-decimal system. (Noumea of course uses the French Pacific Franc, 100 of which make up a very large paper bill printed by the Banque de l’Indochine).

FPF Front

This note is large: 8-in X 4-/4-in

FPF Obverse

And so thin you can see right through it!

FPF 20

20 FP Francs was a more manageable size

Prices in this part of the world are certainly different from Asia—hotel rooms (the cheapest) about double Asian rates, but not double the quality. The french don’t seem to know about electric fans (Bali was the only place I stayed in Asia without one). My room here in Nadi, though $1.50 cheaper than Noumea, is modern, has a fan, and breakfast is included!

Not enuf news to start another page, so will close and mail this tomorrow—you should get it quickly, as US mail goes daily from Nadi Int’l Aerogare—I mean aerodrome; sorry!

Love to all~


Passport p14-15

Fiji arrival noted

Fiji Pound

Soon after I was there Fiji converted to the dismal system

Fiji 5 Shillings

The sterling system was unfathomable

Sunday 8th December 1968

Oops! Forgot the intervening weekend, so will add this now & mail it all on Monday. Yesterday I took a local bus up to Lautoka arriving just in the right time to board a boat (package cruise) bound for Tai—a tiny island in the lagoon. It was a swell trip in every detail: reasonable price (about $6 which included food, drinks, and everything else); a stupendously beautiful day; a small cosmopolitan group (one Swiss, 2 Japanese girls, one Aussie, a Kiwi couple; one dour frenchman and myself). The Captain was British, his engineer a young dutch fellow, and the 1st and 2nd mates Fijian. Two Fijian hostesses completed the group. We arrived at the island about 11:30, and of course swimming was first on the list. I tried some snorkeling, but with little success: my lack of adipose tissue makes me sink like a stone even in salt-water, and the snorkel was not quite long enough to overcome this problem. The island, perhaps 400 feet in diameter, had an interesting rocky shore to windward, but a colorful coral-sand beach on the leeward side. After swimming, eventually an excellent feast was got up and eagerly devoured by all. A while later we clambered into a small out-board glass-bottom boat for a look at the coral just off the island’s shore, and this was one of the best parts of the trip for me. It is really amazing what goes on under the water’s surface, The most commonly seen fish was tiny (~2″) one of brilliant blue hue, though the brightly colored parrot-fish and others were also around. Sea-slugs about 2-ft long; sea-urchins with 12′ spines; colorful star-fishes, and so forth ad infinitum: truly amazing & beautiful beyond description. The rest of the afternoon was more swimming, shell hunting, dancing or whatever, and departure was 4:30, arrival at Lautoka at 6. Very, very nice trip, and except for being a light pink color all over today, one I shall not soon forget!

On boat to Tai

The Fijian deck-hands were very handsome!

 Approaching Tai island

Lovely weather, calm sea, tiny island

Our boat to Tai is ready

About to board the glass-bottom boat

Group photo on boat to Tai

Deck hand shmoozing the girls: damn!

Returning to Fiji mainland

The Fiji mainland seen from our boat


Returning to Lautoka from Tai island

Fiji Mainland

Nearly back to Lautoka

Sugar train pufferbelly

Regrettably, not in use the day I was there

Fiji is one of only two countries (Australia is the other) where I was propositioned by a female. Even that is not accurate: I was propositioned by the girl’s father, who wanted me to marry her so I could take her away to america. Dad was a taxi-driver; I hired him one day to give me a tour of the island. He drove well, and of course knew the roads. The rugged scenery reminded me of some of my favorite haunts in California. Needless to say, there was a lot of talk between us, in the course of which he made it clear I could have my choice of any of his daughters! He even took me to his modest house to meet the family. I would have gladly married any of his sons (there were eight children, as I recall), but the girls were uniformly homely. Besides, I’m not queer for girls—never was, never will be! On the tour to Tai island, there was one other person not mentioned in my letter: a Japanese fellow, very handsome, but very shy. I learned eventually that he was on assignment: he worked for a tour agency, and his job was to go all over the world, take in local events and “report back”. I thought this  might be a career I could be interested in, given my penchant for travel. However, I never followed that lead. I’d have followed him to the ends of the earth if he’d wanted it: but he didn’t!

Having decided to avoid Tahiti, I went next to Tonga.



Written by Editor

March 1st, 2010 at 7:55 am

Posted in Fiji