Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bula! It's Fiji time . . .

What better way to end our adventure Down Under than by relaxing for a week at an island paradise? The Octopus Resort on Waya Island, part of the Yasawa Islands in Fiji, was exactly what we needed to wrap up our 4-month long adventure in the South Pacific. The resort offered just the right mix of pampering and relaxation without the pretentiousness of some of the other resorts. We reached Octopus via a 2-hour boat ride from Nadi on the mainland and were welcomed onto the beach by the Fijian staff, who sang a welcome song and greeted us with friendly bulas (the Fijian equivalent of aloha). After a fruity welcome drink in the dining room we were escorted to our bure, a traditional Fijian hut consisting of a wooden frame woven with branches and a thatched roof. Ours had an en suite bathroom with a fantastic open-roof shower and our very own hammock right outside our door. It was perfect . . . almost. Our first night we were awoken at 3 a.m. by drops of water falling on my face. A massive rainstorm during the night had soaked our roof and water was pouring down the walls and through various spots in the ceiling. After arranging our heads to avoid the dripping water we went back to bed, and the next morning arranged for a tarp to cover our roof in case of future storms. Problem solved!

Octopus Resort consists of a public dining area/bar/poolside deck (all open to the outdoors); an assortment of bungalows, bures, and dorms; beachside hammocks and lounge chairs; and a dive shop for renting snorkeling and diving gear. Octopus is staffed by Fijians from nearby Nalauwaki, a small village on the other side of the island. The resort has a very close relationship with the village and offers guided walks to it once or twice a week. We were able to visit the village on two different occasions: once for an Easter Sunday church service, and the other for a tour of the village with the mayor that ended with a kava ceremony (kava is a drink made from the root of the pepper tree; Andy loves it!) and a craft market. It was an amazing experience to visit this place that had not been "cleaned up" for tourists. The service was filled with beautiful singing, a rather intense sermon, and rows of children who, by the way, are impossibly cute and friendly.

Most of our days in Fiji were filled with exactly what we needed: wonderful food served either poolside or in the sand-floored dining room, reading on the beach, swimming in the pool, snorkeling the beautiful coral reef just a few meters from shore two or three times a day, and floating for hours in the warm waters of the ocean. Basically we slept, ate, and swam . . . it was a rough week!

One of the highlights of our stay in Fiji was meeting our wonderful new Italian friends: Lucia, Terence, and Marina. Terence and Marina have been traveling for 6 months through South America and New Zealand and are headed to Australia after their stay in Fiji. Lucia lives in Sydney and is working temporarily in Suva, a city on Fiji's main island. We all bonded instantly, eating every meal together, playing scrabble at night, and chatting for hours while floating in the ocean.

Fiji was the perfect ending to our trip, full of sunshine and great people we'll always remember. Now it's back home to Portland, where I hear it's almost summer . . .


The dining room

Poolside bar and deck

Our beach

Inside our bure

Our bure

Open-roof shower

Kava ceremony

Lucia, Andy, Matt, and myself after
church services


Kava ceremony at the village

Watching the volleyball game


Lucia, Marina, and Terence trying to
gesture like real Italians

Our beach

Hanging out by the pool

Terence, Marina, Andy, Lucia, Roberto,
and myself

Marina and I floating in the ocean
at sunset
The goodbye photo

1 comment:

  1. jolies photos!
    bonne fin de voyage