Saturday, June 15, 2013

Travelog: Fiji

I would be happy if I never had to say that word again.  This Fijian greeting word means everything from hello, goodbye, welcome, bless you, etc.  Bula literally means life.  And boy do the friendly Fijians mean it.  When all else fails, just shout "Bula!" with confidence and you will be sure to get a few smiles and greetings returned. 

The Fijian people are some of the nicest I have ever encountered and their culture fascinates me.  They are very spiritual and religious people (99% of native Fijians are Christian) who put an emphasis on family, music, dance, and food.  There was not a day that went by that we didn't hear a local singing and playing the guitar, either around the pool at the resort, in the villages, or on a tour boat.  I was taken back by their genuine tone when asking simple questions like "How was your day?" that are all too often empty conversation fillers.
Our resort, just a short drive from Nadi off the main island of Viti Levu. We love the predictability of our Starwood properties.  
Hotel details of the pool and view from our room.  
Lots of sand and sun time! 
O, and of course, how could my husband not go without watching the NBA Finals?!  Luckily it made for a nice lunch break in the shade where they were playing it in the golf clubhouse.  
And don't forget about pool time.  
I don't know about you, but we are generally "pool people" when it comes to this type of vacation. 
Gotta stay hydrated.  If you were wondering, all they serve is the Fiji brand of water.  So authentic! Ha.
To keep my active man entertained, we battled it out on the putt putt course one afternoon.  
He won by one stroke (barely).  Maybe next time we'll act like adults and play a real round of golf..maybe.  
Our nightly routine of watching the sunset.  Afterwards, as part of our ritual, we would head to the hotel bar where an amazing acoustic duo played cover songs of all genres. I was seriously obsessed and R kept joking that he wanted to sign them.  It was the perfect ending to our days.
When in Fiji*…fire dancers and a traditional ceremonial dinner with fire walkers! Super cheesy but we had to.
This day was a dream come true of mine to check off the bucket list…relax on an uninhabited island.  After a two hour boat ride and snorkeling onto the shore, it was all ours to explore the 1.5 acres of paradise!
So surreal with the pristine sand and crystal clear water surrounding the private island.  We were literally off the map.
Instagram favorites of the day.
There is no person I would rather experience the world with.  
The day ended with us feeding some baby black tip reef sharks at our feet. Talk about conquering your fears!
Pampering day at the Heavenly Spa complete with open-air therapy rooms and outdoor showers.  Look who I spotted in the distance waiting for their massage. Sneaky me!
Dinner at the hotel, Steakhouse by Peter Kuruvita.  We didn't venture out much this time to try the local fare as there were plenty of options on the property to keep us happy. In typical "resorty" fashion I guess.
Our last full day was one of our most memorable.  We took a jet boat safari up the Sigatoka River to a nearby village where we experienced the authentic Fijian culture firsthand.  The river is the main source of life for the surrounding villages and it was interesting to see everything from horses and cattle wading and farming to local people washing, bathing, and toileting along the banks.  
People of the river.  
And I love that no matter what they are doing, they still stop to give us a wave (see little girl at bottom right popping a squat).  
The village was named Koroua, which means "Grandfather", after the chief (usually the oldest member) relocated his family to this land in the 1960's after a terrible flood washed away their previous land.  This village is special because it is composed of eight families who are all related.  Once the women are old enough, they marry and leave their home villages.  The spokesman for their village told us that they only work (farm) early in the morning and late in the afternoon.  Their days are for socializing and helping their neighbors out.  The women were provided a sarong (to cover above the knees) and the men were asked to take off their hats as a sign of respect to the chief.  
The visit started with a traditional kava ceremony, with men entering the room first.  We sat on our knees quietly as they conducted a 20 minute ceremony to welcome and offer us their national drink.  Looks and tastes like mud, no joke.  After that, we were considered part of the family and that's where the eating, dancing, singing, and clapping ensued.  Lots of dancing to R's dismay.
Faces of the village.
The children were so interested in my camera and loved looking at their picture on my digital screen.  
Lunch consisted of fresh fruit, fried dough, curry wrapped in roti, chicken, lemon drink, and more.  
I was worried we would be making a spectacle out of them, but it was great to see that the people were more than happy to have us into their homes.  To make sure the villages are not overcrowded with tourists, each day the tour visits a different village.  I was also glad to see that the tour company was putting some of our ticket money back into improving the villages, and not degrading them.  At the end of the day, we will all go back learning from this village of warm people who live by the simplest, yet purest principles.  
Our last dinner in paradise at the neighboring resort restaurant, Flying Fish.  
Before we knew it, Sydney was calling our name once again.  And Teddy was pretty happy to see us too.  He was spoiled with my sis and J while we were gone and it worked out quite well that they had a few days alone to explore the city.  Too bad their flight left the same day we got back.  We had the nicest greeting once we landed, though...a kitchen stocked with groceries, a clean house, and a sweet letter from the house guests!!  They know the way to my heart.  

I can't wait for my sister to share their trip with you!  She will be guest posting soon.  In other wonderful news, we were awoken in the middle of the night to a giddy girl who not only signed her own apartment lease, but got a job offer!!  She will be working at the Rise School of Austin as a child development teacher.  Lots to be thankful for!

1 comment:

  1. WOw! That's so awesome! I think the village part would have been out favorite part, too. Girl.. I LOVE that hot pink fringe bathing suit! So cute. So how was FIji in comparison to Thailand and other beaches you've gone to? Is it all it's hyped up to be??