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PAGE THREE. . . the duration. Scenically, it is a flop.
Hawaii to New Caledonia Flight via Canton Atoll and Fiji
A little more than an hour later we sighted our Ararat (Canton Island). It reared its majestic heights some three or four feet above water level. Its tropical forest consists of a single tree. It has no women. But that lack is more than made up for by an excellent bar in the officers' club.
After landing, we were directed to the Officers' Quarters, where I dumped my gear onto a cot in a room with four others. For half a century or more I have been accustomed to privacy, but from this moment on I seldom slept in a room with less than two to twenty other men for three months.
There is a shortage of water on Ararat. The only fresh water is that distilled from sea water. This allows a gallon and a half per man for drinking and cooking. All washing and shaving is done with sea water, which is not as bad as it sounds. Anyway, my experience in the 7th Cavalry in Arizona and as a cowpuncher in Idaho had long since impressed me with the fact that washing may be reduced to a minimum or done away with entirely.
After supper, some of us hitch hiked to the Officers' Club, where we watched the poker and craps games for a while and read the signs on the bar: "Drinking from 4 P.M to 9 P.M. only" Not more that four drinks per man." And so to bed.
Had a good night's sleep, as there was a cool breeze and no mosquitoes. Up at 5 A.M., and took off about 7:30. Yesterday, after we crossed the International Date Line, I was initiated in the Short Snorters, an organization which must have been conceived during the silly season - right at the height of it.
Our next stop (Nandi, Viti Levu, Fiji) was a really beautiful tropical island. Here we thumbed rides in army trucks and a native police car to two small towns. In the second town we found excellent Australian beer, and a girl on the street pinched my leg in passing - the old S.A. She was definitely brunette - all over. She had a bushy head of hair that stuck out in all directions. She might have been a hundred years old, although it is possible that she didn't look her age. She may have pinched me to ascertain if I were still edible, but I prefer to think otherwise.
We came darn near getting stranded there, sixteen miles from camp, with the possibility of having to walk back. An M.P. captain told us that there were no more trucks going back until 9:30 and that the chances were that there wouldn't be room in that for us. I kept thinking that if Stillwell had walked from Burma to India, I might be able to walk sixteen miles. But I knew doggone well it was wishful thinking.
So I went out to look for transportation. Englander, the airways man, went with me. We found a truck just starting back and got the driver to go around by the hotel, where we gathered up the rest of our crowd. I have seen many beautiful sights in my life, but nothing more beautiful than that truck.
We got back to camp in time to wash up and have couple of highballs before supper. After supper, Captain Johnson, the skipper of our ship invited me to have a highball. Of course he had to twist my arm, but he finally talked me into it. Rather than have my elbow dislocated, I had several more.
Up at 4:20 A.M. on December 8, December 7 having been lost in the shuffle . . .
HAWAII TO NEW CALEDONIA STOPOVERS
Nandi (Nadi), Viti Levu, Fiji
A Native Family on Fiji and Ed's Lady Friend
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