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Oceania

Fiji

As our tour ended, the curious Fijian man asked me. You will come back to Fiji, won’t you?” Put on the spot, I quickly answered, “Yes!”
“Good, I’ll be waiting for you” And with a wink, and shifty smile, he carried on with the other tourists. A series of minutes later I learned he had already asked my travel companion Chelsea to be his girlfriend, apparently she accepted.
Two-timer!
The destination is Fiji, and yes, this was a relaxing and unfathomable end to a radical 7 week vacation. The Fijian islands cannot be described merely on paper, but must be experienced. The 7 days of island hopping, was focused on…nothing.
Hammocks, reading, snorkeling, waves, photos, sunsets, coconuts, hiking, eating, talking dancing, beaching, speedos, singing, laughing, limbo, snorkeling, sunning, tanning, burning.

Rocking up on the Fijian main land, we bunked up with the “Italian Stallion”. Sharing a hostel with the overconfident European, he braved his love for the Fijian islands, with his lovely operatic singing voice and his completely nude body while exiting the shower. Yes, we were in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, miles from shopping malls, chain restaurants, grocery stores or stress. Located near Castaway’s film location, I can safety say, it was miles from any type of western mentality, and I didn’t mind a bit. With Wilson in hand, our very first island included bungalow accommodation, snorkeling, fresh fruit and conversations with a couple who lives out of their sailboat for over 2 years. The Fijian lifestyle and aurora consists of simplicity, dedication, time and enjoyment of living. The happy, smiling faces and the “Fijian walk” slowed down our structured traveling pace. It was apparent we had just come off a 6-week adventure; you can’t really hide the obvious 2 pieces of checked luggage.
Desktop photo- postcard surroundings sprung to life as we dove into everything the Yasawa Islands had to offer. Soaking up the Fijian sun we baked all afternoon. Looking up I saw a man in the distance with an oversized blade chopping down palm leaves. Knowing the history of cannibalism on the island, the creepy grin of the Fijian waitress, prompted me to ask what was for dinner that night… was I wrong to think they were fattening us up for the late night meal? Although, the untouched beach and calm breeze of the blowing palm trees made the first day on the Yasawa Islands paradise. Sights of painful tan lines, and lobster looking tourists marked day 2 of the vacation.

 


Watching the days pass in a hammock and eating fresh snapper caught off the boat was an experience. The inclusion of an authentic Fijian village tour put me in a state of shock. To live on nothing, to live for survival, to live on your surroundings, was impressive, heartening, and beautiful. To know, that each day may not look much different, but knowing that each day has everything you could ever need. Admiring the peace of the village, the tour guide beckoned at me, “Brittany Spears! time to go!” (now the 4th time this week)
A night of limbo contests, catching crabs (not physically) and fruity smoothies was a riot.
Our finale at Walallai Island Resort included a cooked authentic smoked Fijian meal, including banana cake, eating with our hands and ceremonial Fijian performance with Kava. Kava, which can be described as muddy water in a cup, mildly narcotic, making your tongue go completely numb….very safe.

With the Brittany Spears name count up to 5, we concluded the ceremony with the weather dance. “Shake it, don’t break” yelled the chief. So we danced the night away anticipating blue skies for the early sunrise hike.
The weather dance failed, turning over at 5:30am, Chelsea and I met, the Fijian chief and his buddy for a hike up the cliff. It was pitch dark, we were alone with 2 Fijians, listening to tales of their great-grandfathers enjoying the taste of white flesh, I mean fish. Still wondering if I’d become the next meal. Reaching the peak, we over-looked a cloudy sky and views of the never ending pacific. From above the cliff, I saw a small figure enter the water. As we descended we happened upon the “Italian Stallion” in his glory, sporting a different kind of hammock. A banana hammock.

Dancing on Beachcomber Island and peacefully ending at Little Island, we sailed away from the Yasawa chain refreshed and culturally shocked. In a good way.
The islands left us with a sunset as we boarded the bus and hit the hostel, with little anticipation of good-byes and over 24 hours of flight time ahead of us.

hermes Rivera