If I had a Fijian dollar for every time I heard and said that word the past week I’d buy my own private island in Fiji.
What an incredible, exhausting, and long week. We flew into Nadi, Fiji and spent two nights in the city visiting the local markets and listening to lectures. Fijians are the most welcoming and humble group of people I have come across, but boy can they be a little aggressive when it comes to selling to tourists. Considering I had only really interacted with cultures that were extremely similar to my own in westernized New Zealand and Australia, entering into the crowded markets of Fiji was the first real culture shock of the trip. Ha, if only I knew what was to come.
We boarded a water taxi and took a 3-hour trip out to the Yasawa islands where we would be staying for the remainder of our time in Fiji. Dropping us off on a platform about 100 yards from the beach we took smaller boats to our “resort” for the next 4 nights. Botaira Resort was not what you would imagine a Fijian resort to be like. Small huts with little to no running water scattered the small grassy area, but what more could you ask for? We were on an island in Fiji!
The two afternoons we saw the sun was spent in the water, snorkeling and jumping off the high-dive, while the rest of the rainy time was spent in class. It’s fair to say that I’ve gotten used to, if not expected, the torrential downpours that we got in Fiji. Ending the trip the same way we started it I guess!
A 45-minute hike over the “mountain” to the other side of the island we arrived in Soso Village. Me and three other girls were placed with a host family for the next two nights. Soso is a small village (although it’s considered large to Fijians) with the nicest people you will ever meet. Enough food to feed an army was provided at every meal with women coming from every direction offering another plate. No wonder I got a stomach ache, or maybe it was the water I wasn’t supposed to drink…oops. It was hard to tell who was part of our host family and who wasn’t but we soon learned that everyone was family in Soso even if they weren’t related. The 5 kids of the family followed us wherever we went and we spent all of our time playing with them. Sam, a 3-year-old feisty toddler, entertained us with his hilarious and sometimes violent antics (see pictures).
Soso was a community stricken with poverty but you would never have guessed it looking at the smiles on the people’s faces. It was hard ending in a place like this because I was inevitably willing the trip to end while also reminding myself to enjoy every last second. Celebrating Good Friday was a huge highlight. Sitting in their modest yet beautiful church hearing the incredible songs of worship really humbled me and reminded me just how privileged I was to be on this trip.
And just like that, the program is over. Looking back on the past 3 months it’s hard to believe that I got to experience everything that I did. Getting to make lifelong friends and seeing the other side of the world is something I will never forget. I just can’t believe it’s already over…
But have no fear people!! Even though the program may be over, I’m not going anywhere! The adventure continues back in Australia for another 12 days on my own because who wouldn’t want to go back?
Let’s hope there’s no more twisted ankles or lost GoPros on this solo trip, fingers crossed.
Updates to come muchachos.