This week I have been mostly marooned on a desert island...its a hard life!
Having said a tearful fairwell to Joe I boarded my plane to LA which flew over the Grand Canyon at 37000 feet, great view from up there. I had a 9 hour wait in LA for my plane to Fiji and it was during this time I discovered that my rucksack also doubles as a chair! The flight arrived in Fiji at 4.50am and there were people there to greet us singing, not only that but they seemed really happy about it! Of course we couldnt understand a word they were saying so they could have been cursing us but I like to think not.
At the airport I met my travelling companion for the week, Julie from 'up north', turns out she will be in the same countries as me at roughly the same time which is great as she is very entertaining (not always intentionally). On our first day we decided to take the bus with no windows into Nadi. Its not far but the journey took alot longer on account of the school children being dropped off at the end of each driveway which were sometimes as much as 20 yards apart! Before we knew it we were being guided to a workshop to be given a welcome ceremony by Isaac, this involves drinking Kava which looks like muddy water but is apparently some sort of dope. All the Fijians seem to be fairly addicted to it but they also all seem deliriously happy so I was willing to give it a go. We left the workshop $50 lighter after buying something and proceeded to the photoshop. I think the lady in there wanted to make sure that we made it back to the hostel safely so she sent us with one of the employees to catch a 'minibus' on a street corner. There was strictly no queing and we just had to join in the free for all and try and beat all the locals into the contraption when it arrived. We were a bit shy the first time but made it in on the second. Something tells me they weren't MOT'd but we made it back safe and sound.
Julie and I decided to go on an island hopping tour for 7days which picked up from the hotel at 7am. I set my alarm for 6am and crawled out of bed and got dressed when it went off. Unfortunately I had forgotten to change it from American time and I was actually dressed and ready to go at 1:20am! D'oh...back to bed then. We were ferried to the various islands in a sea cat with small water taxis tranfering us on to the island. The first resort was remote and it was typical of the accomodation on all the islands we visited boasting cold running water in all the showers, a sand covered dining room floor, electricity for up to 4 hours a day! What was special about this one was that the dorm appeared to have been furnished with dolls furniture. On day 2 we went on a day trip to the Blue Lagoon and the staff brought our dinners to us on the beach on another island! I have never had a curry on the beach before. I had to rescue Julie twice today when she got 'items' stuck in her newly bradided hair. It was also Julies 22nd birthday and the staff baked her a cake and then had a Fiji style party which involved some uncoordinated trips round the sand dance floor.
Day 3 we moved accomodation onto a boat called Wanna Taki, they took us on a village visit where Julie and I developed an obsession for some fairly fit Fijian dancers. On returning to the boat we played games and I was robbed (of a win) during a game of musical chairs....I dont want to talk about it. The following day I went for my first ever scuba dive where I discovered that I cannot get in OR out of the water gracefully. I also jumped off the side of the Wanna Taki for fun and flashed the entire boat when my bikini top went AWOL!
We transfered to our third resort in the normal way using water taxi's. These are fun and yet there is always the possibility that you and / or your luggage will end up in the water. ON this occasion Julie very nearly did. How I laughed! At this resort we got up at 4.45am to go on a sunrise summit walk. It was very hard work walking up the mountain (well hill really) in the dark and down it in the rain. Julie and I left our trainers outside the dorm to dry and ended up with one each when the village dog ran of with the others! Julie also flicked a bug on the lady next to her during the night. She said it was a reflex action but I am not so sure.
Our last island was South Sea Island which took a full 4.5 minutes to walk all the way round. From here we went out on the Seaspray for a day on the water. We spent the day with 3 questionnable lads from London Mark, Chris and Shaun and did some of the best snorkelling so far. We even turned the tables on a shark and chased it (obviously we are not talking jaws here, it was about a foot long). Back on the island we met the lovely Holly for the third time (I think she might be following us) and did some crab racing. I would like to point out this is an organised event involving hermit crabs for all of you with dirty minds! We also played a game where you had to pick up a cardboard box with your teeth with only your feet on the floor (who said gymnastics was a waste of time?). I would have won if my nose wasnt as big as it is! I did another dive on this island but I think I may have cut off the circulation in the instructors hand....I was a bit nervous so he had to hold my hand nearly the entire time!
On my last night in Fiji the hostel put on a dance show (not just for me obviously). One guy was doing the knife dance and in a dramatic finale he would do it blindfolded, unfortunately he wasn't very good and kept dropping it. I was horrified to see him come out with a fire stick to juggle! He set fire to his hand, the grass and nearly the entire front row in a 'butterfingers' interpretation of the fire dance. Luckily there was a guy who was much better.
I have loved Fiji, I was so relaxed when we got back to the mainland it took me 3 attempts to put my knickers on correctly. Fijians are lovely friendly people, the islands are remote and basic and that was perfect. What more do you need when you have sandy beaches, beautiful blue seas, good food, hospitality and clear starry night skies?
Pictures to follow!