Sunday, July 18, 2010

THE FIJI ADVENTURE BEGINS - MONDAY JUNE 21, 2010

The day began, (or should I say middle of the night) at quarter to 4 in the morning, when, after Alex’s alarm beeped, mine went off in song. We both groaned in agony for a minute or so before plopping out of bed like the miserable little bed ridden girls we were at that moment. At least we were up and ready though, I mean, on a positive note, we were going to Fiji!!
As we stood in the hall getting the rest of our things in order, Dave got out of bed making groans and yelling “Oh my god!” in a pissed tone when the hall light refused to turn on. None of us were in the mood to be up, but especially poor Dave who works long mad hours and then offers to drive us to the station at 4 in the morning just so we don’t waste money on a taxi; Too sweet.
We were in the car now, set to leave as Dave backed out of his garage, asking me to stay behind and close it. My mind at 4 in the morning couldn’t quite comprehend how to do so however and in the end Dave had to get out to show me how it was done. We drove to the station, where along the way, we watched Dave’s eyes flutter with sleepiness. Trying to keep him awake, we attempted to sing along with the radio playing again “Whatya Want From Me?” but I don’t think any of us were in the mood. 
Alex, the organized one of us, planned for us to be at the station, giving us a half hour to get there, the usual time of a bus, however since Dave was driving, we got there in ten minutes. He dropped us off at the station to buy our tickets while he parked the car across the street and waited for us. While we attempted to buy our tickets an older heavy man wearing a large forest green coat walked past us. As we glanced at him, he stared our way and let out a loud, “SCHWIZZ!”. Maybe I’m behind in lingo, but what the fuck is a “schwizz”? Alex had checked the price of our tickets the night before, however this morning we figured out that the shocking low price of $2.40 to get all the way to the airport was actually $16. We paid and went back to sit with Dave, telling him of our "Schwizz" encounter. Only we, weirdos and workers (mainly weirdos) catch the train this early.
After a few minutes sitting together in the warm car, we got out, took our things and said a final goodbye to David, only to see him, the only car on the road, waiting at the stop light for us to leave. We waved him off with smiles hoping his tiredness wouldn’t affect his drive home. 5 minutes later our train came and we headed upstairs in the carriage to grab our seats. There were 2 men lying down in the rows behind us, snoring at too loud a volume for anyone. A large island looking woman sat at the last seat looking at us suspiciously while lex ate a muesli bar and I snacked on cashews. Finally she too passed out, and she too began snoring, so loudly that she showed the men behind us a thing or two. Nearly an hour of snoring later, one man woke the other man up and they left. We got off a stop later at Central and made our switch to the airport line with help from two janitors. 
15 minutes later we had arrived at the international terminal, checked in with a woman who like us, wasn’t fully awake yet, and then headed through security and on to our gate, number 59. An hour later boarding began in which we were close to the last people to get on. We made our way to row 3, falling asleep almost immediately. After being in the air for a while, the announcement about now being able to turn on electric appliances came on waking us up and in turn, I decided to watch a movie while Alex read up on Fiji. Soon after, she caved in to the screen in front of her face and we both sat and watched films. Breakfast arrived within moments, I gave mine to Alex and after another quarter of a movie, we were finally landing in Nadi!
We had to wait a while for our bags, as they took forever to come out and even if they had been out earlier, it was hard to see from the crowds of families surrounding the carousel. Customs was a breeze, taking less than 10 minutes, the customs man smiling at us, saying “Bula” to me, where I smiled back. He repeated it again, where I responded “Ula” thinking that’s what he had said. He laughed, stamped our passports with force and we walked out towards the exit. 
We had been warned that while walking through and out of the airport people would bombard us, trying to sell us things. When one person said “Bula” and one more came up to us and smiled, I laughed inside. If this was what they were talking about when they mentioned being bombarded, they had obviously never experienced the true meaning of the word. Try fighting off 15 Russian grandmothers from pinching, when you’re five years old with exceptionally chubby cheeks, now that’s being bombarded in an extreme form. If a couple of Fijians want to pleasantly say hello to me, I’ll take that.
The next guy who came up to us however had a bit of good luck. He stood next to us, walking alongside us asking if we had everything booked, needed accommodation, etc. He jerked Alex’s nerves a bit as she firmly told him a few times that we were fine. Finally he mentioned something about the Yasawa islands and her attitude did a complete 180 degree turn. We ended up following him to his office about 3 feet away, where we could book our “Fiji Adventure”. Here we sat for the next 2 hours trying to decide on what we wanted our next two weeks to be. In the end we decided to skip the Coral coast located on the mainland and head up to the Yasawas, go all the way north and slowly head south before having to return to Nadi again. We bought a Bula combo pass which covered our food, accommodation and boat rides, had shell necklaces placed over our heads, were secretly given sulus with the travel company on them, and left in a taxi they had put us in, with nervous smiles and a booking for a hostel in Nadi for that night.
Escape Paradise was our second choice destination for that night’s stay. I say second because our first, that being the beachiest option offered was fully booked and this, being the 2nd cheapest was, I guess, the next best thing. The 15 minute drive from the airport to our hostel on the beach drove along a paved road next to school buses, charming Fijian villas, tin shacks, plenty of tropical flowers and trees, arriving finally at a small drive way where we got out. We grabbed our bags and went to check in and pay, where the woman had no change, letting us to our room, trusting us to pay later. Gotta love the laid back attitude that is Fiji.
We were led to our 6 bed dorm room where we both lay down for a while before I decided to go outside and play in the sun. Alex, completely exhausted, joined me later. After a little more of a sit, we ventured out for a walk to the beach, which happened to be about a 40 second walk around the corner. We strolled on the sand for a few taking in our first (of what would soon be many) sunset and watched the locals, in sillouette form, as they enjoyed the water, laughing and splashing around. 
A group of tourists and 1 Fijian played volleyball outside of a beach front hotel. I watched on, wanting to play but held back seeing as, well I suck! Although after watching a chubby young fellow in a blue speedo miss the ball and a serve that didn’t reach over the net, I knew I’d be fine. It was just for fun! However, I still resisted, I was dead tired. I figured we’d have plenty of opportunity on the islands to play. 
We went inside the resort of Smuggler’s Cove to use the internet for the last time before reaching the islands and then headed back to our hostel for dinner. We were both famished but too tired to really care and also, not wanting to spend a lot of money, we both got fruit smoothies. However I was still hungry so I got some curried shrimp, only to be very disappointed when 5 small pieces came out on top of a large bed of overcooked rice and veggies. I ate the shrimp and fed the rest to what I knew was a still hungry Alex holding back in attempt to save money.
After dinner we met a German girl who sat with us for a while, turning out to be in our room. Tired, we decided it might be a good idea to sleep and went off to bed in our dingy little room. I took a shower first, entering a bathroom splattered with blood stains of what I hoped was from squished mosquitos. The shower was cold and instead of putting me to sleep, it woke me up. I then hopped into what I thought was a damp bed, before realizing it was just the odd material of the sheets. An hour later, I finally started to slowly fall asleep. 
That was until... “Did you set your alarm?” I heard a soft voice say to me just as I had begun to drift off to sleep sometime after midnight.

“What?”

“The alarm, did you set it?” Alex asked, turning over as she spoke.

“No, I asked. You had yours. Now you want a backup?” I was a bit ticked off at this point, finally on my way to sleep and now woken up for something we had previously discussed.

“Yes.” This was the last thing she said to me before making herself comfortable. Damn it all! I set my alarm, rolled over in a cranky manner slightly hoping to wake her up from her slumber she had already fallen into within the last 30 seconds. It didn’t work, I just lay awake for a while wondering what the next day would be like.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

MOCE for now FIJI


I wrote this letter to Fiji as I sat on the giant boat from Kourovou back to Denaru, knowing we were now leaving the islands, feeling heaps more sadness than I intended and expected. 
-Last Day on the Islands-
I’m really not sure what to say. We have 1 more night in Nadi, yet if feels like at this moment, Fiji as I’ve come to love, is over, done, so quickly that within a single moment, I don’t even have time to orientate myself with what has just happened. Fiji has been this miraculous wonderland I dream of coming back to and I haven’t even left yet. 


I’ve learned a lot in the past weeks. If you smile, there will be sun, hence the reason Fiji’s weather is phenomenal. Everyone is always smiling! When someone moves their finger across their throat as they’re looking at you, what most know to be “I will cut your fucking head off” the fijians mean it as a token of their love, “I would die for you”. Bonfire on the beach doesn’t actually mean a bonfire on the beach. I mean, there is a bonfire, but it’s key for “I want to get you alone.” However, kava in the caves, actually means kava in the caves, alongside 30 other fijians all droned out of their minds from the natural anesthetic made from the pepper tree, tasting like herbal muddy water. Nothing is as you expect it, everyone is genuine, and everything is on it’s own time, Fiji time.

The last 2 weeks have gone by like a whirl wind. It’s not like there have been so many new experiences though. I mean yes, I can now say I’ve kissed a Fijian, or 2. I’ve been to beautiful beaches, and snorkeled, but it’s nothing new, other than the place. However that’s the key reason to why this has been such an amazing trip. Within the last 2 weeks I’ve met an abundance of new people from all over the world, most of whom I hope dearly to stay in touch with. I’ve spent time with some of the amazing locals who run the joints in which we stay and make the trip so memorable. Without their kindness and open hearts, this experience could have been just that of a nice beach, but with the memories I have from it, the clear waters, green palms, and white sands are just the start. 
Snorkeling with the manta rays and the look of excitement Alex had upon her face as she saw her first one. The laughs of the guys, a high pitched monkey like giggle, that even when I had no idea what was actually so funny, would spread like wild fire so even I began to laugh hysterically. I’ll remember the hymns they sang to us in welcome and goodbye, and the songs they used at every place to dance to! The hospitable attitude of the men and women trying to make sure that we have/had the greatest time possibly possible. Nene who snuck Alex an extra piece of cake, when every one else was told there was no more, and gave us giant hugs and goodbye lays as we left. I am not an emotional person, and I am most certainly not a crier, but this left me so touched, I had no words.
This is still only the beginning and I can’t wait to get back to this marvelous place of gorgeous lands, and even more beautiful people, to experience it again. And so as this trip ends, I can’t say moce to fiji, because I know I’ll be back. Instead, I’ll say, Vinaka and I can’t wait till I’m Bula’d into Fiji again. 
Love to Fiji Always, Jami