Around the World: Fiji

straw-roofSun, sandy beaches, ocean, palm trees – Nadi

When we arrived in Fiji we felt a little tired. During our flight we crossed a couple of time zones and we lost one day. We felt a bit light in our heads. In the arrival hall of the airport some men were playing music and were singing. We were being welcomed with traditional music from Fiji. Youri danced to the music and received a flower behind his ear. We already felt less tired. We were in Fiji!

VIEW PHOTO GALLERY BELOW

We decided to go to the Yasawa Islands. This is a remote group of islands with nothing but small native villages and simple resorts. Before heading to the islands we spent two nights in a hotel in Nadi to acclimatize a bit.

Oars Mans Bay Lodge

Early next morning an old, bright yellow bus without any windows took us to the harbor. This part of the world is clearly not as rich as the other parts we had seen so far. Our boat, a yellow catamaran called the Yasawa Flyer, was sailing to the remote islands. Every now and then it stopped to disembark passengers on their way to the different resorts. We looked for a place on top of the boat where we would have a nice view of the islands and the ocean. All morning we sailed along beautiful, small islands with white sandy beaches, palm trees and a deep blue ocean. This was just like being in a movie. Movies like Castaway with Tom Hanks and Blue Lagoon with Brooke Shields were shot here. When we reached Oarsman Bay Lodge, we went off. On the beach were palm trees and small cabins. Hammocks were hanging between palm trees. On the stairs to the patio the staff in traditional dress welcomed us with a song and a drink.
Life was simple here. We had three meals a day. Furthermore, there were excursions daily for which we could sign up on forehand. Then of course, the ocean and the beach. Our cabin was located in front of a reef with the most beautiful fish. We snorkeled for hours. What a life…

In the evening traditional music and dance entertained us. We got flowers and wreaths and the staff sung and danced for us underneath the overhang. Outside a tropical storm blew with lots of rain. People in the audience were participating in the dance. Youri wanted to join, but he was a bit too small to dance.

On Sunday we attended church in the village with a couple of people. We had to dress appropriately and I borrowed a Fijian gown. Marc wore his own dress shirt and long pants. We looked great, but it was very hot. We took the boat to the village. People are still living in traditional houses with roofs made of some kind of grass. On the outskirts of the village was a school. It was an elementary school for all children of the islands. The children who live too far away are boarded here. After elementary school the children have to go to the mainland to attend high school. During the service we sang a lot which sounded beautiful. We were happy to have had the opportunity to be part of it.

The resort adjacent to ours had a dive center which organized diving with sharks. Marc signed up with another hotel guest. Because Marc didn’t dive for a while, he needed to take a refreshment course. In the meantime I joined with Youri and Michelle an organized trip to the village. We visited a medical center and it was good to see that despite limited resources, the staff was very professional. After that we met the chief of the special Bure (house) and our guide explained how the tribal system works here. We also admired a traditional Fijian house and a church. In the central village building there was a market going on organized by women from the village. I splurged on homemade jewelry and beautiful shawls. It really was a fun morning.

The next day Marc went diving. It was absolutely wonderful. He saw lemon sharks and reef sharks. The real dangerous sharks were not there, but these guys were already pretty impressive. They were about 6 meters long! In order to attract them, the divers brought dead fish bait with them. It was a great experience.

It was Thursday and time to leave for our next resort. At about three o’clock the boat took us to the island on the other side, to Otto and Fanny’s.

Otto and Fanny’s

Otto and Fanny’s was a very different resort compared to Oars Mans. It was much smaller and much quieter. The cabins were not located directly on the beach, but between the palm trees of an old coconut plantation. Our cabin was very spacious but less luxurious. The people here were very nice and the food was great. The resort was supposed to have Internet, but it didn’t work unfortunately.

Other guests told us a tropical storm which could turn into a hurricane was heading our way. Hurricane season starts in December and we were getting close. We were hoping for the good. The weather was certainly less beautiful. It rained frequently, but it was not cold. We still were able to swim.

On Monday we were supposed to head back to the mainland to Nadi with the Flyer. During breakfast we found out that the boat would not be sailing due to too much wind. The next day the sun was out again and the wind had dropped. The Flyer was overcrowded with twice the number of people and luggage as usual. The resort had packed a lunch in a basket for us woven from palm leaves. We were enjoying sitting in the sun again on the boat. In Nadi the bus dropped us off at our hotel, which was great.

Nadi

We had to postpone our flight to Sydney with one week. We were to fly tomorrow, but when we checked our email it appeared that our visa wasn’t arranged yet. It took us two days to provide all the requested information and we were hoping to receive our visa soon. While we were waiting, our days were filled with swimming and relaxing and we spent the afternoons behind the computer on the internet. Friday late afternoon we received our visa for Australia.

On our last day in Nadi we went shopping. It was really hot and dusty too. We bought a nice wooden box and we were looking to buy a hammock, which was not so easy to find. After a while we just gave up.

The next day we got up early and headed for the airport at 7.00AM. We checked in and went through customs. Youri was very interested in the stamps of the customs officer and he got one on his hand. Up in the sky we were watching the white beaches and blue ocean below us. It was beautiful, but frankly we were also looking forward to spending time in a western destination. Sydney here we come!