Monday, January 12, 2009

Flooding in Fiji and the Amazing Interconnectedness of the World

In 2003 we went to Fiji for a friend’s wedding. Through a series of unexpected circumstances, Lane and I ended up at a sort of make-shift resort on the north end of Viti Levu near the city of Rakiraki. Safari Lodge was (and still is) run by a friendly Australian named Warren Frances. We ended up spending a few days with him, his girlfriend, and friends of theirs from New Zealand – days that were nothing like we were expecting (due to torrential rains and a village trade war), but that turned out to be some of the most memorable of the trip. We left feeling as if we had been staying with friends.

Since that time, Warren has upgraded and expanded the resort on the neighboring island of Nananu-I-Ra. We’ve sort of stayed in touch over the years and I still look forward to visiting them again some day and staying with them on the island.

I’ve always been interested in world news, but I’ve come to realize that world news really becomes meaningful only when you can connect it directly to something that you know, so news from places I’ve visited, like Fiji, tends to catch my eye. And – with ethnic tensions, a government that is periodically subject to a coup d'état, and the occasional cyclone – tiny Fiji seems to end up in the news more often than one would expect.

So imagine my surprise to notice a brief reference to “the flooding in Fiji” as if this is something everyone has been hearing about for days on end. What flooding on Fiji? When? WHERE?

Pretty much everywhere, as it turns out.

But, of course, none of the (rather limited number of) stories I found gave any indication of how Warren and his family may have fared. Were they even in Fiji at this time of year?

I’m young enough to be reasonably well-connected to the larger world via the web, but old enough to still be amazed by the fact that I can send an electronic note to someone halfway around the world and, within moments, receive a response from back. (He and his family are fine.)

It really is pretty incredible not only to think that I actually know people half a world away in Fiji, but that I can so easy to keep up with them and what is happening in their world.

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