A Day in the Life in Fiji

There are 333 islands in Fiji. Easy trivia to remember. Now, how I ended up in that beautiful archipelago? That was a matter of pure luck, rather than choice, really. When I was flying to New Zealand from Australia, I was stopped at the gate, and told I can’t fly on one way ticket. I had less than 30 min to decide where and when I should go after NZ. I knew I wanted to visit at least one country in the Oceania, I just didn’t know which one….

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So, I decided to toss a coin, heads was for Fiji, tail was for Vanuatu. Coin landed on heads, and the dilemma or where to fly next was solved. (I ended up going to Vanuatu right after, read previous post). I remember flying into Nadi airport (the capital), and seeing beautiful, teal waters beneath me. I didn’t know much about Fiji to be honest. Other than it’s supposed to be beautiful, and exotic. That’s where most couples like going on honeymoons and such. I have heard of Fiji water, and coconuts? At the airport, I was greeted by driver from the hostel I was staying at, who was wearing colorful Polynesian shirt. Ride to the hostel was short, the sun was already setting, and warm ocean breeze felt so good. I ended up spending 3 days in/around the capital Nadi before I decided which islands to visit. Fiji has great ferry system that takes you to many of the Yasawa islands (they coordinate drop offs with resort owners, it’s organized very well). Since I didn’t know much, about any of the islands, and definitely didn’t want to go to a resort, just to hang out on the beach…I ended up looking online for some kind of a homestay. One place I looked at seemed kind of cute yet simple, and so did the name: Sunrise Lagoon; and that’s where I decided to go.


Children in Local School

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Me learning how to Shred Coconut

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created by dji camera

Poasa

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photo by @staszekeysmont


Ferry ride was beautiful and relaxing. It took 4 h to get to Nanuya Lailai island. (that name too, so pretty), where I was picked up by local boy on small motorboat, and brought to the Homestay. I was not expecting 5* resort, nor that I wanted one. I was expecting authentic place with good vibe, nice people and warmth. The place I chose had just that. I ended up living in a dorm style room with comfy beds and mosquito nets. There were couple of outdoor showers, big yard, gorgeous beach and big dining room, where we all gathered every evening for home cooked dinners and stories, told to us by Poasa. 

Poasa was the head of the family. Wonderful, yet ‘grumpy’ grandpa who kept an eye on everyone and everything. He was that elderly whose wisdom was impressive, and charm was infectious. Although he only left Fiji once, and that was for New Zealand to visit his son, he gathered more travel stories, than I did in 12 plus months of travel at that point. He learned them from other travelers, some books, many stories and legends. Every other evening (really when Poasa felt like it), after dinner, he would bring 2 paper maps to the table, and call for everyone’s attention. No whispers, or noise were allowed. No interruptions. Full attention.

Everyone had to gather up and listen to often, very long stories from… far way. I am not sure at which point I decided to extend my stay with that family. But I am sure it was after one of the dinners, at which we all held hands, made a prayer and started eating deliciously cooked meal, when I realized- this was the stability I craved, and “family” I needed at that point of my travels.

There was also his wife, son, few grandchildren and daughter in law Lice. They welcomed us into their home, and let be part of their family. During my stay I ended up making friends, some were just passing by. Some ended up camping out for a month or, some decided to extend their stay and volunteer- because where is the rush



 I especially bonded with a French girl Fanny, who was my age. We both were having great time by doing nothing; just strolling the beach, hanging out and talking to Poasa. I even started waking up on time for sunrise, after all it was a sunrise lagoon, playing with three kittens, spending time with the family in the kitchen etc. just enjoying the basic moments that make life wonderful, but we’re too busy to notice them in Western world. Here on the island, there was no wifi, very spotty cell phone connection. Power came from a generator 5pm-9pm only. Water came from the rain, and was stored in rain barrels, food came from the sea or nearby islands. This took not time to adjust, it just how it was. Simplicity came with the territory of this remote Fijian island, simplicity that was so beautiful literary and figuratively. One day my French friend Fanny decided to leave for island ‘next door’. Local boy transported her on a motor boat to the island I could see, not so far in a distance. That night we communicated with flashlights sending light signals- island to island, like two kids communicating from their rooms. Then the next day Fanny sent me a text- I want to go back to Sunrise Lagoon. Tell them to send a boat for me, I miss that place already. And that’s how I felt many moments into my trip, when I’d go back reminiscing about the tranquility and simplicity of life, somewhere in the middle of the Pacific in Fiji. Because of one flip side of the coin… is a beautiful place.