The Fiji Times » From the Crowd: Organizing the Chaos


Was it only a few weeks ago that I was wondering what was worse than having to pack up after almost two years abroad?

I’m stupid.

The obvious answer is to unpack and put away once you get from there to here.

Our crowd is so often on the move – or was before the pandemic – that we were able to say a loving goodbye and welcome home without a display of tears or emotion.

Not that we weren’t thrilled and thrilled to see the return of a familiar and oft-missed face, or to happily greet someone heading out on an adventure you wish you’d also had a ticket for.

My mother, the Dreaded Violet, was an intrepid traveler in her day.

His antique Globite suitcase sits in the attic housing a variety of spiders and some remnants of a busy life.

There are even a few leftover stickers here and there proclaiming trips to places such as Australia’s Barrier Reef, known as the Great Barrier Reef.

Of course, she hadn’t been to Fiji at the time.

I dare say the suitcase could earn a spot at the Antiques Road Show, but it’s too valuable to let go.

More valuable were Violet’s travel tips.

She was cunning, rarely misplaced a piece of luggage, and could fit an incredible amount of stuff into a suitcase.

Among the items she was carrying was an entire bicycle, in parts, but quite possible to reassemble for this purpose.

Once upon a time there was a sewing machine that was kind of accepted as hand luggage even if it traveled with the cabin crew so it wouldn’t fall on anyone’s head in turbulence.

Well thought.

Every year he carried a batch of school sandals, once with an excess of shoes for the left foot, along with tips on how to get the most out of them.

For example, use only the left foot to push a scooter.

When walking or dancing, always start and finish on the left foot and do lots of jumping with the left foot only.

My advice was to buy pairs of sandals next time, but travelers said it was difficult to check sizes when shopping at the exchange or flea market.

What and how to pack was advice often given and rarely followed.

At the time, there were no down jackets or sturdy overcoats for would-be travelers heading to the northern hemisphere in October or December.

Later, these items became more available and popular.

People wore them to show that they had been abroad.

The most popular were the camouflage type to hint at the idea that they went with the military.

Travelers were encouraged to pack carefully.

Underwear in the flap pocket, shoes (if you had any) in the bottom, neatly folded dresses and saris, bula shirts ironed and folded flat.

But not since the Japanese style became fashionable.

Now we fold in the specific way recommended to roll up each item and then store them in layers.

They look like swaddled babies ready to pop in brilliant butterfly colors.

Sounds weird, I know, but it works.

When I look at the luggage of yesteryear, I really wonder how we used to carry various large and cumbersome bags and backpacks, giant suitcases and unmanageable shopping bags, small handbags, a book and something bought in duty free.

For a while, I favored the suave plastic bag of the international traveler.

Now everyone with even a little brain rightly dismisses plastic as destructive to the planet.

So there’s this idea out the window.

Thank goodness for what has become known as the Samoan Suitcase.

It’s not what well-bred Fijians call it, but I’m afraid the name has spread overseas.

You know the bags I mean, woven plastic sugar bags, usually red and blue checkered on white.

They’re affordable, have a zipper on the top, and can carry just huge amounts of stuff.

One update from recent travelers who have noticed a change in quality is to double them, one inside the other, and avoid stuffing them too full.

Before they reach fullness, stop if you can.

Then, tie them up as professionally as possible, with cord all the way around and enough to double as a handle.

Don’t expect to get more out of one trip.

I don’t wrap them, I’m just saying.

They’re just the job to get you home, that’s all.

There are many more tips I could give you, but you are unlikely to want to follow them.

Just a few tips: avoid carrying food for anyone, it often ends in a very messy way; chocolates and peanuts do not count as food; airline meals do despite what you may say, so just be thankful for what you get.

All tips and so on only work so far. I remember the first time when the first daughter left home for a long time, maybe forever, to study.

After she left, I was shyly trying to clean up when I came across a pair of earrings on the back of a chair.

Her earrings.

Bat teeth earrings.

I cried.

It’s finally back to school for the Mongoose Muppets of Flagstaff.

I have to say, there’s not a lot of crying here.

But there is a strange silence in the street.

I expect it to be broken when the big hand points to the twelve and the little hand to the three.

  • The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily of this journal.

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