South Pacific: A Couple of Untold Stories

Sometime ago, I wrote a travelogue of my trip through the South Pacific. There were a couple of stories I left out at the time, because I figured people would think I was making it up  using artistic license.

These both happened towards the end of my trip, when the money was running out and I was 3 months on the road.

To give you a brief background, I was fired from my job. My boss thought that I “wasn’t doing the job he expected of me” and for my part, I thought he needed work on his people skills what with all the yelling and screaming he did at subordinates.

To tell you the truth, I had planned on leaving after 1 year as anything sooner would certainly look bad on the resume. As it was, he beat me by a month and fired me. And I am thinking of the old fable of Br’er Rabbit and the briar patch, for those of you of a certain age and grew up with Walt Disney.

Anyway, we both got what we wanted and I got an unexpected severance check. A nice severance check.

I had always wanted to see the South Pacific and since it was December, I felt that the chance of finding another job soon was dim. As it was my family knew a nice travel agent who told me that I was in luck. QANTAS was having a special promotion on a special ticket – up to 20 or so stops anywhere I wanted in the South Pacific – I just couldn’t backtrack.

What was not to like? I only booked 2 things – 2 weeks at the Club Med on Moorea (Tahiti) and a tour of the South Island in New Zealand. As I recall, to expedite things I even drove to San Francisco to see a couple of consulates to get the necessary visas. As I recall, the Australians had a rather sensible policy – wanting proof that you had enough money to see their country and then leave. So you won’t become a burden, mate.

I decided that I would send a post card at each stop to my now ex-boss. Living well is the best revenge, and all that.

Within a few weeks, I was off. I wandered around Oz for about 6 weeks – only things I didn’t see were Perth (which, after Lex’s description I regret – but it is way out to the west and nothing in between) , and Adelaide in South Australia. BTW if you think Texas and Alaska are big visit some Australian provinces.

Anyway the money was starting to run out, I thought I should go home but first wanted to stop at Fiji. Fiji is like Tahiti in that they have many islands with resorts. But to tell you the truth even in my 30s the thought of getting sun baked and drunk was starting to lose its allure.

Besides the money was running out. And, as I recall, there was a coup recently in Fiji. There are 2 ethnic groups in Fiji – the native population and the Indians. When the British came the natives understandably weren’t interested in working in sugar cane fields so the British brought in the Indians.

And even today there is friction between the 2 groups as the Indians proved more adept at business than the natives.

Anyway, the beach by my motel had old tires in the sand and I just had the feeling it was time to end the trip.

South Pacific A Couple Untold Stories

Downtown Nandi, Fiji Islands. Taxis and souvenir shops were the main industry.

But before I ended it, I wanted to stop in Hawaii and see some old family friends. They had moved to Hawaii almost 20 years earlier, and they were close to me. I knew that one of the daughters, Terry * worked in Liberty House, then a chain of Hawaiian department stores, although I didn’t know which of a dozen or so stores she was.

So I would find a place and go to the nearest Liberty House – see if I could go to a personnel office and see where she worked. I was a bit more naive in those days.

Unbeknownst to me there was several big conventions in Honolulu and reasonable hotels were almost impossible to find, unless you wanted a $600 suite at the Royal Hawaiian.

I went to a desk at the airport whose people would find you a room, and they recommended this place in the Kahala District – a pretty swank district in Honolulu, where a realtor was apparently renting out rooms there. Whether it was to get income to flip the house or simply help her with the payments I can’t remember.

South Pacific A Couple Untold Stories2

My inexpensive lodging in Honolulu, in the Kahala District

Anyway, I go there and the next morning go to the nearest Liberty House in the Ala Moana shopping center. I get directions for the personnel office – 2nd floor, and on the escalator I hear this voice right behind me, “Billy Brandt, is that you? ” (they called me Billy and I wish to be truthful in this story).

It was Terry, right behind me on the escalator. Out of a dozen stores.

Oh, and when I got home the first place I headed for the next morning was the Costco box store.

Who do you suppose was standing at the entrance waiting for someone? Out of an area of over a million population.

It sounds like you had a nice trip“, he said through a tight smile.

That I did“, I replied with the biggest smile I could muster, as I walked by him.

So, was all this all a fantastic moment where all kinds of things just seemed to align together?

As for me, I attributed it to God with a sense of humor.

What do you think?

** Name slightly changed



updates 06-14-2018 While rereading the post I made 5 years ago I realized I did mention a bit the 2nd strange incidence – so this just goes into a bit more detail. 

Also in trying to find a link for the 2  Club Meds in Tahiti, I learned that both have been closed for years! Moorea, just 11 miles off shore from Papeete,  was by far the bigger one, with a capacity of 100s. The other one on Bora Bora was much further  out from Papeete was smaller and more “deluxe” with rooms on stilts over the turquoise water.

Tahiti is very expensive and these places were great – all inclusive prices and all the water skiing or scuba diving you could want. And for meals they would seat you with different people all over the world – everyone socialized!

Such a shame.



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One response to “South Pacific: A Couple of Untold Stories

  1. Pingback: Making The Best Of A Bad Situation | The Lexicans

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