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Report No 4 - 27 January 2007
Christmas and New Year came and went with not even a balloon to mark
either occasion.
However, the contractor kindly took us all, together with his own
senior staff, for lunch and a few alcoholic beverages to 'our' resort
(the only one in our atoll) on Christmas Eve.
We were surprised how little effort they had made with the
decorations to give the place any Christmas feeling. The food was good
but nothing Christmassy there either and they certainly know how to
bump up the price for the holiday period. But it was very welcome
relief and we really appreciated the contractor's efforts to try to
brighten the holiday season a little.
Actually the Maldivians did do a little celebrating of their own for the
New Year which surprised me a little. There may have been more behind
closed doors but from what we were able to see, their celebrations
took the form of a throwing flour and coloured water on all and sundry
(we managed to dodge successfully) and a few people dressing up in
fancy costumes and dancing while leading a large crowd of onlookers
(like the Pied Piper) through the streets of Ungoofaru.
It appeared that all of this emanated from the IDP camp so perhaps
they are Khandholhudoo customs and not Ungoofaran ones.
The Red Cross boat came just after the New Year to bring the
participants for the fortnightly Project Coordination meeting.  This
meant that we could take advantage of the transport to Male and take
our 'official' break a little early.
It meant that we could only take two weeks instead of our full
allocation but we were more than ready so we jumped at the chance
particularly as things were a bit quiet on the site because of delays in
material deliveries.
We left Ungoofaru at about 2.30 pm on Friday, 5 January and reached
Brisbane, via Singapore, at about 7.00 pm the following day. A very
draining way to travel but better than a day or two wait in Male.
We never really adjusted properly to the time difference until we were
about ready to head back on 20 January. Now we are trying to adjust
the other way!
Kimberly had spent Christmas and New Year in Townsville with
Samantha and they had travelled to Brisbane together just before we
arrived. Samantha was staying with Kim when we turned up so we had to
find a motel for the first few days until Sam returned to Townsville.
We actually had one night in more friendly surroundings when we Kim
drove Viv, Sam and I down to the Gold Coast to see old ex Jamaica
friend and former business partner, Paul Frame and his wife Yanti.
They insisted that all four of us stay the night in their beautiful home
overlooking the Tweed.
A very pleasant time was had and a few tales were recounted and a few
beers consumed (including some imported Red Stripe picked up at
Beenleigh Tavern on the way past) but nothing to rival the champagne
induced haze of our previous visit a year or so ago.
On the way down to see Paul we stopped off for a few hours to see
Tony, Viv's brother in Woongoolba. He was working as usual but
insisted on stopping everything to service Kim's car. We visited him
again on our return to Brisbane and I'm glad to report that he is doing
well and keeping busy.
Most of the rest of our time in Brisbane was spent  chasing dentists,
doctors and opticians to get as much twelve month servicing done as we
could. We were very pleased to see how helpful they all were to fit us
in when we told them we were only in Brisbane for a few days.
After giving Sam a day or two to tidy up the house after she returned
to Townsville, we followed and spent a little less than a week with her
there. Mostly our time was spent relaxing and carrying out repairs to
house and computer but we did get to see another couple of old friends.
On the day after we arrived former PNG colleague Moorthy Karuna and
his wife Lini were having a dinner party for some friends so we were
also invited. We got together a few times while we were there and I
even got in nine holes of golf with him at 6.00 am one morning!
We also had a couple of meals and some beers with another old ex
Jamaican friend Kevin Rowley. We picked up the reminiscing where we'd
left off last time we met but it wasn't quite like old times as far as
the beer was concerned because Kevin's on a strict (almost) no alcohol
diet.  But it seems to be working as he looked very well.
The last few days were spent back in Brisbane mainly with final medical
appointments but we did manage one very pleasant outing for dinner
with two more ex Jamaican friends, John and Ronnie Brown.  Although
they are both retired John is almost fully employed restoring an old
Alvis. A job which he hopes (I think) will never end.
The only disappointment to the holiday, after relaxing, visiting friends
and the very obliging treatment we received from all the doctors,
dentists and opticians was when the assistant manager of the clinic in
Townsville wouldn't help me to get the results of the blood test I took
there. She persistently quoted the 'official secrets act' but wouldn't
offer any helpful advice on how I could get the results or whether or
not I should start reading any long  books.
Although rushed and with several planned tasks not accomplished, the
holiday turned out to be a good break and the weather was kind to us.
(And I didn't watch any cricket!!!) However we are still no closer to
deciding where we will end up in Australia so I'd better keep working
for a little while longer I suppose.
To be continued ..............