Has it really been a year since the quarter-century mark? Sheesh!

I rose for breakfast with the firm intention to spend the day doing nothing, and that’s precisely what I did: after the meal, I relaxed into the hammock with the book I’d been saving. (For the rest of the week, it was Kerouac. For my birthday, something much lighter.)

When the morning launch came, I went to see the newcomers and met a bunch of Brits, including Nick, Allison, Steve, and Julia. We sat around a table and chatted. Nick asked why I was in Fiji, and I told him it was my birthday present to myself. He immediately brought me a birthday beer, and we relaxed.

Later in the day, I realized that something was up when Moeses, one of the staff, called me “birthday boy.” Just before that, Pam and George (who left on the launch) sang “Happy Birthday” to me, saying “Isn’t it great to have surrogate parents?”

It soon became clear that everyone on the island knew, and it came to a head at dinner, when following a nice meal the Fijians came together just behind my seat. With musical accompanient, everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to me, then the Fijians sang a version in Fijian followed by some sort of “Happy Long Life to You” ditty, with the Europeans rejoining for three cheers for John at the end. By the time it was over, I was really red, and it wasn’t sunburn.

To top it off, some people hung around after dinner and played cards with me, as the band played in the background.

It was a great way to spend my birthday, lacking only the presence of my friends and family.

And maybe some Tico.

(Now what will I do next year?)

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