Bula si'a Viti! The sun has finally come out here in Cairns. We had never seen the sun since our arrival last Friday but it is still very windy, particularly in the evenings.
I am continuously running to and from plenary sessions and media briefings here at the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium and it is beginning to prove a little hectic.
But nothing I can't handle.
But thank God for the evenings because I am always looking forward to walkabouts on the streets of Cairns and just looking around for subjects for my daily postcards.
After the conference last night, Alumeci Nakeke of SeaWeb, Patrick Fong of the Institute of Applied Science at USP, Akuila Cakacaka of the Wildlife Conservation Society and I took to the streets to do just that.
We visited The Reef Casino along at the Esplanade. Tried a game and won $A14.
Another of our stopovers was the night market with kiosks selling handicrafts, clothes, and boutique stores majority of which sold amazing wood carvings of various sorts - from fruit bowls, bottle holders, chokers and many other things.
But something else got my interest. A massage parlour - probably because I just needed one badly.
We all agreed to try it out as an "investment" for our wellbeing, given the high stress level - attributed to a lot of things. Beginning with a foot massage was relaxing to say the least followed by a full body massage done by young Chinese, Korean and Japanese men and women who are here on work permits.
I was told my shoulders were "very tight" so I had had to pay extras for Chinese medicated plasters to stick on my shoulder blades. All that did wonders for all of us.
Last night, Alumeci and I were invited to dinner by Vilimone Baleilevuka and his good wife Debra at their home at 85-87 Martin St, still in the city.
Mouth-watering roast beef in gravy, a glass of wine (or two) and cheesecake and ice-cream for dessert topped it all up.
Just chatting and laughing away, even reminiscing some of the food back home. Debra misses rourou and mutton and canned fish cooked in lolo.
We parted with valuable gifts from the couple. Tau Vilimone and Debra, thank you so much for the great Cairns hospitality.
We had another surprise this morning in my hotel room, while Meci and I were quickly tucking into some leftovers from last night.
Mere Farrel, who works in housekeeping at the Rydges Plaza and had been looking around for us in the hotel, made a surprise visit.
Excitement filled the room as we talked, followed by invitations for a grog session at her home where some members of the Fijian community will gather tomorrow night.
Mere has been here for the past 30 years. She sends her love to her families and friends back home, especially to her sister and her family in Lautoka.
On my way to the Convention Centre after my interview with Nadi boy Ritesh (Rydges Plaza head chef), I met Laisiasa Rokocegu, originally from Yakete in Ba and he now works as the city liaison officer at the Cairns Regional Council.
He has been here in Cairns for the past seven years, moving from Bundaberg and Brisbane some years before that.
Laisiasa sends his family's love to his motherland, especially to Master Isikeli Vuniwaqa and his family in Suva, Elia Lawalawa also in Suva, Pastor Maciu Matairavula in Sigatoka, to his family and relatives in Yakete, Wame Tawake in Sigatoka, Peni Donu in Lautoka and Maikali Drauna in Nine Miles.
Tonight after the conference, tau Vilimone has offered to take Alumeci and I for a spin to other parts of the city after he finishes work from the Great Barrier Reef where he takes tourists diving in that crown jewel of Cairns.
I had taken pictures of Mere and Laisiasa and I am unable to access it because of some technical glitch that is beginning to test my endlessly patient soul. I will try my best to get their pictures once I get help with this camera.
I have a strong feeling that I will be meeting more and more Fijians here in Cairns as barbecue invitations continue to pour in.
Meanwhile, I haven't had to cut down on my cigarette intake before. I am doing that here now after I finished my ration from Fiji.
It is very expensive here. I had to pay $A16 ($F29) for a packet 20s and $A20 ($F37) for packet 25. Sa sau levu sara ga!
Talks on coral reef and its conservation continues, which I now have to rush back to.
A lot of interesting people from across 80 countries are here exchanging their experiences, some of which are very relevant back home.
Again, if you know of someone who is around here in the city that we can reach out to, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until then, take care and loloma from Cairns! Moce mada.