Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Letters from the Equator, 7 - Fiji

                                                       The Phone Thing             
 (The first Letter was posted on Dec. 21, 2013, in the archive, right, and 2 and 3 in  Feb. The rest are in sequence.)                                                                                                                                              
        FIJI -  "What is this?" the customs agent asked.
        "It's a sort of telephone."
        "What sort?"
       "The kind you use with a computer. It straps onto the receiver, you see... with this. You can, you know, send things."
       "What sort of things?"
      He left me to consider the architecture of the Fiji airport. I was at the bottom of a big loop south of the equator that would take me the following day, if I was lucky, to Brisbane and on toward Sumatra, a journey of almost seven thousand miles from Kiribati. The customs agent, however, did not like the look of the devices in The Pig, among them the plethora of adapters for strange electrical and telephonic plugs , wires, a digital camera, a magnifying glass with a little light that came on when you pushed a button.                                        

       I very much wanted to be allowed into Fiji. I had seen clear lagoons and lush land, with sugarcane fields like armies of upended shaving brushes under sharp, new mountains, a magic land pushed up out of the sea. I could feel air much cooler than that to which I was now accustomed.
      But there remained this problem of the transmission gear. I had checked off the box on the customs form asking if I carried any technical equipment, and was regretting it.
   "Do you plan to use this device in Fiji?" asked the agent, when he returned.
    "Absolutely not."
   The hotel would have a digital phone and, better yet, fresh fruit.
    "Anyway," he said, having lost interest , "why do you want to talk to machines?"                             
                 Tomorrow: Sumatra

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