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Christmas – FIJI style!

 

Still had amazing sunsets!

Hello FIJI!

Everyone warns us against “Island time”. “Island time” is the don’t worry about time, cause no one else does philosophy. Don’t get caught up in what time you were supposed to do something because inevitably its gonna change. Supposed to leave at 9? you can guarantee that’s gonna be more like 11 by the time your bus leaves. 5 hour ferry? Don’t count on it. We’ve been traveling in South East Asia for 8 months by this time, puh-lease. I am a master at island time. So when we heard Fiji was infamous for the “island time” excuse, we weren’t too surprised. In fact I think at this point we’d probably keel over back wards if anything was ON time at this point.

However, in Fiji’s case this time it wasn’t their fault. Rewind to about four days before we arrived in Nadi, we were happily driving around the west coast of New Zealand when we heard of Cyclone Evan on the radio. A big nasty guy who had already torn up Samoa and was headed straight for Fiji. Due to our lack of internet or really any connection with the outside world we didn’t know what exactly what we were looking at, or what to be prepared for when we reached Fiji. Heck we didnt even know if it still existed, when we showed up at the airport on the 23rd of December. Well Fiji did survive, but not without a lot of damage and a lot of heart break by the Fijians. The cyclone hit the main Island and flooded, and also hit the island chain we were planning on staying at. Many of the resorts were closed for business just trying to get things back to normal. Many places didn’t have electricity or running water.

 

We were planning on going a little lux for Christmas and getting a nice “all inclusive package”, I’ve learned that most times this actually ends up in more hassle and this was definitely the case at the Nadi airport, when Awesome Adventure Fiji (killer name right?) kept me going back and forth with their agents trying to find a place to put us for Christmas eve. Most places were all ready booked, and those that weren’t, weren’t open for business unless you wanted a palm tree through your front door. Finally after an hour we got settled for Coral View Resort. It was gonna be a little more “rustic” as they put it compared to our original plans, but it had nice people, a lot to do, and it was on a deserted island in the outskirts of Fiji. Merry Christmas, lets hope this place has a bar.

 

The first night we stayed at smugglers cove, a resort you only stay at if you just got in, or are leaving the next day. It had an alright beach and decent rooms, but it wasn’t the Fiji you see in postcards. It didn’t matter though, we had a ferry to catch the next morning to our Christmas paradise, Coral View Island Resort.

 

Our christmas home away from home

Our christmas home away from home

After sleeping through our alarm, we got up and packed in about 5 rushed minutes, just praying we didn’t miss the one ferry of the day to the Yasawas. After a 5 hour uneventful ferry ride, we arrived. We were greeted with the all-fijian staff singing us mixed fijian and christmas songs and a nice buffet lunch. I think I might like this place. It was obvious the cyclone had done some serious damage. There were overturned trees everywhere, the siding on our bure was torn off, the water was not really working and the electricity was off and on, but everyone greeted us like old friends and there was not a sad face to be seen. The resort was well run with a schedule for the days activities on the chalkboard. It reminded me a lot of summer camp but i was alright with it since I was on a break from the traveling norm, looking for an easy going Christmas vacation. The resort was all-inclusive with food, so we had a buffet meal three times a day There were various activities you could do if you wanted or you could just relax all day long, which is what a lot of people did.

We did a few of the “outings” with one to the blue lagoon (where the movie “Blue Lagoon” was filmed… ohhhhh… ahhhhh.) Yeah in reality the snorkeling was really nice but the lagoon was pretty tore up because of the cyclone. Lots of the palm trees that line the lagoon and made it so picturesque in the movie, were destroyed leaving only stumps in their place. It was still beautiful, but i can only imagine how incredible it was/will be once the area has recovered.

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Now I can honestly say that i don’t get homesick too much. I love traveling and new experiences. However, Christmas Eve was the one time thus far I truly was homesick. Every christmas eve my family gets together and does a christmas eve dinner/opens our presents and has a good time playing games and watching my mom drink too much wine. I LOVE christmas back home and i was really sad to miss out. As beautiful as Fiji was, its just not christmas without your family. Saying that, they did a lot to make christmas special for everyone traveling.

During the day we went to an amazing beach, probably the second most beautiful beach i’ve seen (only faling to Beach No.7 in the Andaman islands). We went snorkling, knee boarding, banana boating, etc. It was a fun day playing in the sand with all our new christmas family.

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Supposed to say “Merry Xmas Fiji 2012”

 

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Night time there was a huge party the staff threw, we even got christmas presents from the resort! A pink sarong for me and a green sarong for sean. They had a huge BBQ buffet and a traditional fijian show with fire twirlers and local dances. And to make it even more Fijian, there was a group of the staff enjoying some Kava which both me and Sean tasted a little.

Kava is the traditional drink of Fijians and is considered a drink of not only social but medicinal and religious importance. Its made by one of the older members grinding up the kava root in a mortar and pestle type machine made of corals followed by straining cold water through the liquid. You then choose if you want “high tide” or “low tide” which signifies how full your glass is. The stuff taste terrible to be absolutely honest…. kind of like drining dirt. Dirt that made your mouth go numb. But its a HUGE part of any Fijian festivals so we knew we should give it a go before we started in on the more traditional American christmas beverages of champange and beer.

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The night ended with lots of dancing under the stars on the beach. Even though it was not a typical Christmas it was still one I’ll always remember. Through all the hard times the Fijians went through in those few days before christmas you could still not find a single Fijian on that island without a big smile on their face!

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Next up South America!

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