BULA! Last I left off, Maria and I were buying new backpacks at the last minute and jumping on a flight to Nadi, Fiji (pronounced Nandi). We actually went to Dick’s again on the way to the airport where Maria bought the pack that she would use. We switched stuff in her bags in the parking lot and froze our asses off because we were dressed for the flight to LA and Fiji. We arrived in Nadi at 4:30 am and had some business to take care off before our boat left from the port at 8:30. Business means getting Fiji dollars out of the ATM, changing into beach clothes, booking a ticket on the boat, figuring out how to get to the port, and trying to get some internet to contact home.
After all those not-so-fun activities, we boarded the boat that took us the 4.5 hours along all the stops in the Yasawa islands to our first stop in Fiji: Nabua Lodge.
From the big boat we got on a small boat with about ten other backpackers that took us to the island. We were all shuffled to the deck where we were fed a great welcoming lunch. The lodge was run by Fijians who live either at the lodge or in the nearby village on the island. All of these islands in the Yasawas are pretty small and are only accessible by boat, or kayak I guess. The resorts serve as the only income to each island.
After lunch the staff assigned rooms or dorms to everyone… we were last as we were the only ones to not book the place through the Awesome Adventures Fiji company. We had booked directly with Nabua and were brought into the office to talk about our booking. I wrote in the last post that it would be about 120 FJD/night including meals, but since we booked directly, she upgraded us and gave us our own double bed bure (hut) with our own bathroom for only 70 FJD/night! RESULT! The bed even had a mosquito net, which turned out to be clutch.
Needless to say, after 28 hours of flights and boats and skipping the entire day of Feb 9th, we were donezo. I think all we did the rest of that day was take a swim and fall asleep on the hammocks right next to the beach. Great way to end a long long day of travelling. At night we talked more with our group that arrived that day, and guess what we talked about…. LeBron James. Two german guys got in an argument about the NBA and whether LBJ is overrated and flops or not. I wish Joe MacDonald was around. And that might not be the most American thing to happen that night – John Denver’s “West Virginia” played as we ate our dinner.
Fiji is ridiculously beautiful and these islands are exactly what you think of when you think of Fiji. On Day 2 we decided to join the morning trip to the cave to go cave swimming. The cave was easy to enter and one of the main attractions in the Yasawas, but still it wasn’t too busy. A group of about 8 of us went from Nabua and had it mostly to ourselves. Once in the main cave, we all took a short swim underwater to other caves. Four of us guys also took turns trying to climb the cave walls; there were a few places to climb and the cave was great for diving (couldn’t even see the bottom). Ekie, a german guy, climbed up the highest to about 6 meters above the water and I only made it to 5 meters. Definitely a highlight of Fiji.
Our next stop in the islands was on Wayalailai Island, which had a better beach than Nabua and more hammocks. We showed up and they had no clue we were coming (the lady was really confused). These places are so small that it doesn’t matter so we negotiated a rate and room once we got on the island. Again we were upgraded to a private bure with a double bed!
We met some cool british girls and a nice Finnish couple to have some drinks with and talk about how crazy the Russians are. Good times were had by all. Did you know all schooling is free in Finland? High school, college, med school, everything. High taxes, but they go towards a more educated public, which in the long run is the best thing to invest in, methinks.
Days here were spent mostly laying on hammocks with maybe some reading, swimming, snorkeling, and putting on sunscreen cuz the sun is so damn HOT. Wayalailai island is more mountainous than the other islands, so naturally I went on the sunrise hike with the british girls to watch the sun come up.
For our last night in the islands we decided to wing it again and jump on the big boat heading north and see what was available. We picked to stay at Barefoot Island… it was over our budget but we splurged for a night because it was Valentines Day. We were taken to our bure and there was our own hammock to use, the beach about 30 feet away, and a freshly opened coconut on the deck. Chugging the coconut happened.
All of the Fijians play volleyball, so at 5 everyday, it’s time to head to the volleyball court to get schooled in volleyball by the Fijians from the village and who work at the resort. We could hold our own because we played back in the states, but the Fijians are pretty damn good. It’s all in good fun too and they are hilarious when they play; multiple times they would make each other crack up so much that some of them fell to the ground laughing. The people are some of the friendliest I have ever met. After one night at Barefoot they were hugging us saying they were sad to see us go, and thanking us for playing some good volleyball with them.
We were sad to leave the Yasawa islands, they had been good to us over the last six days. We tried not to push ourselves too much and only do maybe one thing a day. It’s REALLY hard to get out of a shaded hammock in paradise.
Steve is on leave near...