Do you ever have experiences where circus music seems to be the most appropriate soundtrack for that particular moment?
It happens to me all the time. (That’s not crazy at all). Particularly when I do something doofishy, doh!-ish or just plain stupid. Lots of times, as it turns out, these moments occur on our travels. I have oh so many examples of the kind of three-ring, big-top type happenings that seem to only occur when Adam, myself and a journey are involved. *Ahem*
-Getting head stuck in the turnstiles in the Paris metro
-Dragon Lady Eyes in Rome, Simultaneous toe-stub/head knock on Siena balcony, bird pooping on my head in Siena (Italy was a doozie)
-Figuring out the bus system in Amsterdam
-Coffee creamer spill en route to Australia
I could go on…but then I’d run out of room to talk about our latest circus music worthy trip to Fiji.
It all starts once we’ve landed after a relatively short five hour flight on the most child packed plane I’ve ever seen. It was a dream to walk off the plane and be greeted by heat, sun and a beautiful Fijian band playing a welcome song at the airport.
We were so excited for this trip – we have never taken a beach trip before, by the way – so the prospect of not having to figure out what sites to see, where to go for dinner, what to wear was highly anticipated. On our transfer to the resort however, we realized that the circus music had started.
I might have forgotten to pack Adam’s memory card for his fancy schmancy camera. And we might have found out after we left the airport (aka duty free electronics). Luckily Mani, our driver, stopped in Nadi Town where all the stores were closed. And even more luckily Adam convinced one of the stores to open up just so he could get a memory card. Whew. Circus music paused…
We enjoyed a beautiful sunset on our way to the Matanavusi Surf Resort – extremely remote on the beautiful Coral Coast of Fiji. We arrived just as dinner was finishing up but enjoyed vegetable roti on our own after getting settled in. After meeting the several guests who were celebrating their 50th birthdays, we called it a night falling asleep with the windows open, fan on, mosquito netting in place and the sound of the ocean waves hitting our deck. Total peace.
Bright and early we were up with the sun, eagerly anticipating a sun soaked day. We tried our luck with stand up paddle boards and thoroughly enjoyed exploring the coastline and taking in all the sea life – including the bright blue starfish that littered the entire area. After a well deserved breakfast we explored the coastline on foot with the resort’s resident german shepard Sadie as our guide. As the clouds rolled in, we cheerfully planned a snorkeling excursion and got a completely private tour by boat of the local village and the lagoon. Snorkeling found us fighting rising winds, currents and storm clouds but we kept at it seeing some amazing coral and reef life up close and personal. Kemu and Wes were excellent guides and have been a part of the resort for ages.
Unfortunately the circus music picked up again as my waterproof camera decided that being underwater just wasn’t what it wanted to do.
Not to be deterred we continued our relaxing as the winds picked up and the first of many storms rolled in. We played chess, enjoyed some beach worthy cocktails and got to know the new guests who had replaced the raucous 50 year olds. Dinner was had and just as we had forgotten our camera woes, the circus music picked up again…as we discovered that the second string memory card for Adam’s camera had wiped all of our pictures.
No, not joking – every single picture from our first day was gone. We contemplated how this felt and how vacations shouldn’t be about picture taking anyway. Isn’t it the memories that count most?
It still stung a bit.
The rain added a nice depth to the ocean sound that night and we were lulled to a deep peaceful sleep, certain that the storm would blow itself out the next day. No such luck. Overcast skies and constant drizzle with a few torrential downpours to break up the monotony. We still went out for a paddle board in the morning, hiked around during the day and took a boat ride out to the surf breaks in the afternoon. A rousing game of checkers and lots of reading novels took up the in between time.
Relaxing? You betcha. What we expected? Not quite.
Again, trying to maintain perspective and, in truth, it was refreshing to not have any plans and indulge in the beauty of doing absolutely nothing.
But still…one would have liked a sunny day whilst in the tropics. So we hoped for another day.
And another day dawned with rain.
So we set out anyway intent on enjoying ourselves. Adam took a scuba course, I beachcombed to my hearts content. Sadie kept us a lot of company as she constantly picks up rocks for you to throw and her to fetch.
Yes, rocks. We tried tennis balls, coconuts, driftwood etc. She had no interest. Rocks, however, she loved. She would spend several minutes picking out the perfect one (not just any rock will do, afterall) carefully pick it up to avoid getting too much sand in her mouth and drop it off before pouncing off to await your herculean throw. Awesome dog!
More games and a late afternoon kayak trip to explore more of the coastline led us right up to dinner and drinks with our fellow resort goers. Stories were shared, laughs were had. A great day to be sure. Adding that we had figured out how to keep our memory card from fritzing out on us again and it was almost a perfect day!
Much to our dismay our last full day dawned with more rain and overcast skies. Adam went out on his scuba excursion and saw some incredible sights including Neptune’s Chair – a natural coral formation that looks like, you guessed it, a huge chair. Paddle boarding happened, game time happened. Pretty much status quo in the tropics.
As luck would have it our final day dawned with sunshine. Instead of cursing our luck…well, okay, whilst cursing our luck we hurried out to grab the paddle boards and made our way out to the reef to take advantage of the calm water and low tide. We saw so many amazing fish again and got so far out that, when we turned to head home, had a hard time distinguishing which part of the coastline was ours. We ran into Kemu at the shoreline who eagerly offered to take us out snorkeling again – now that we had some sun to light up the reef. We agreed immediately and set out to packing quickly so that we could spend as much time possible out in the sun.
What a difference a little bit of sun can make.
The reef was alive with color and so many more fish. The sun was warm and baking our backs. My camera even cooperated for a short while allowing us to capture a few great moments. Sheer perfection, even if it was only about 5 hours worth.
After a quick shower and lunch we were saying goodbye to everyone we met at Matanavusi – including, of course, Sadie. Our ride back to the Nadi airport was interjected with a ton of side stops courtesy of Junior, our driver, who said he was trying to help us get the most out of our one sunny day. So nice of him! He regaled us with a lot of Fijian language, translations, and insights to his culture. He thoroughly enjoyed translating what the village children were saying to us as we rolled through village after village with our windows down.
Junior would laugh as he informed us it means “White People!”. We certainly were, and in all of our travels it had never felt more painfully transparent. Feeling different here was very different from feeling “like a tourist” in European countries. We joked back with Junior – “You mean we stand out??”.
We made it to our plane and enjoyed the last views of Fiji – completely drenched in sun.
Now, back in Melbourne, we are adjusting back to reality. Which, unfortunately, encompasses the reality that my departure date is five days away.
Perspective, perspective, perspective. Gonna need it!
Oh, and for anyone keeping count – circus music moments were upped by 4:
-memory card mishap
-constant rainy weather except for the last day
-not-so-waterproof camera discovery
-a wee bit of Fiji belly (a distant cousin to the legendary India and Bali belly). Let’s not get into details.
And the band played on…
Editor’s note: this was written immediately upon our return from Fiji but, due to the chaos of packing and taking in the last of Melbourne it was delayed a bit.