The first leg of my six-month journey begins in Fiji, and after being here for a few days all I can say is what an amazing start to my trip! Fiji is completely idyllic. After a long 10 and half hour flight from LAX my brother and I landed in Nadi International Airport.
As you leave immigration you are greeted by a group of locals strumming their guitars and singing in Fijian. It is a delightful way to be welcomed to a country. The warmth of a Fijian welcome is indicative of the people as a whole. Everywhere I have been I have been greeted with smiles and waves and shouts of “Bulla!” The traditional Fijian term for “hello,” but it actually means just about anything you want it to, departing somewhere? “Bulla!” Have something to celebrate? “Bulla!” I’ve come to love the excitement and warmth the term represents.
Fiji is actually not just one island, but an achipelgio. I chose to spend one day on the mainland, and three days on a secondary island, Moala. The main method of transportation between Fijian and the other islands is by boat. Once you make it to the Nadi Harbor know that you are now on island time; Fijian island time at that. Take a deep breath, adjust your expectations and accept the fact that there is no rush and that will enjoy your experience much more.
Boating from Nadi to Moala was magical. Taking about two hours in total it was hard not to be hypnotized by the incredible colors of the water. From a dark blue to the light sea foam green that marks the reefs, it was like being apart of the most vivid painting one could imagine.
The boat skimmed the water and the waves undulated like silk floating in a breeze. Drops of sea spray bounced off the waves like translucent pearls. The boat ride was definitely not the destination but immensely enjoyable.
I am staying at the Funky Fish Island Resort. A lesser-known resort on Moala, it is not to be missed. With options ranging from your own hut on the beach to the surfer dorm (where I am staying for $15USD per night), this resort is fantastic for luxury stays to backpackers on a budget. I can walk straight from my dorm room to the ocean and snorkel with gear the resort provides for free. Funky Fish also offers a number of activities from surfing, village and basket weaving trips. I found the resort to be quiet but a smattering of tourists from all over the world lending the place serenity but not boredom.
After an evening of drinking with some fun loving New Zealanders the staff at the resort invited us to what I imagine is their after work Happy Hour. Sitting on pillows on the floor in a circle, my Kiwi companions and I were the only non-natives but we were welcomed as if we had been living there our whole lives. Laughing, dancing and kava drinking it was one of the coolest experiences I have had. To me, this is the most addicting part of traveling; the ability to connect at a basic human level with people you’d ordinarily never get to interact with. A Fijian tradition is Kava, is a drink that is made from the bark of a tree and looks like muddy water, it has sedative and anesthetic properties. Everyone takes turns drinking from the same wooden cup and passing it along to the next person. Aside from the promotion of shared germs, it is incredibly bonding and I have to say I haven’t laughed that hard and reveled in the sheer joy stranger companionship in as long as I can remember.
I leave for Auckland on Sunday, and as my trip winds to a close I find myself incredibly relaxed. This island paradise is hypnotizing, relaxing you from the inside out. It reminds me life is short and that for all the “advantages” the rest of the world has, Fijians have the upper hand in a relaxed and fun loving attitude that I not only admire, but also hope to take with me.
“It would be good to live in a perpetual state of leave-taking, never to go nor to stay, but to remain suspended in that golden emotion of love and longing; to be missed without being gone, to be loved without satiety. How beautiful one is and how desirable; for in a few minutes one will have ceased to exist”
~ John Steinbeck
– See you on my next adventure, Jo –