Sunday, September 18, 2011

It Begins In Fiji

"Leaving on a Jet Plane"
We boarded the plane at LAX and Patrick and I are saying our goodbyes by text to friends and loved ones. We have no idea what we are getting into. All we know is that in about ten hours we will be in Fiji and a few days later Sydney. I look at Pat in disbelief and say, “This is actually happening.” We give each other a fist pound and get back to our texting. The day has finally come. We are actually moving. Our intentions are to stay in Oz until our working holiday visa expires which is good for one year. After that we may get  “serious” about life and go home. Of course there is always the chance that we will go broke and return home before the year is up. Either way, we agreed that we will approach everything that happens with a positive attitude and just enjoy the ride.

So many people have been curious about our journey. Wondering why we would quit our jobs in this time of economic hardship. Or why we would want to live anywhere else but the US. I guess the best answer for me is, “why not?” I feel blessed to have this opportunity. The way I look at it is that I am semi-retired. Taking a year to live in another country and enjoy it to the fullest. This is something that I imagine I will not be able to do when I am 60 and am actually retired. Or at least I would not be able to enjoy it in the same youthful way.

"Don't Know When I'll Be Back Again"
The plane departs and we are on our way. The flight was not full so we decided to try to commandeer an empty row of seats so we could get some decent sleep. However we appear to be noobs at this kind of travel. The second the seat belt light goes off the empty rows are snatched up by other travelers. Guess we need to step our game up. The flight was smooth with very little turbulence and two uneventful meals between hours of terrible sleep. At one point I woke and decided to watch an in-flight movie. Several movies were showing however I only had one channel that worked. That one channel was showing Soul Surfer. I find it somewhat amusing that my friends and family know I want to get decent at surfing while in Australia and most of them told me to watch out for sharks. And here I am on my way to chase that dream, watching a movie about a surfer who had her arm taken by a shark but still achieves her dream. (Good movie, inspirational) I smile and think, I guess it could happen, but it’s not very likely…I hope. Besides, my travel insurance will cover my remains being sent back to the states. Let us just hope my family does not have to file any claims…no one likes to fill out all those forms.

Courtesy of Nickelodeon without out permission...
 Don't tell them

(side note: does crossing the international dateline officially make us time travelers? It reminded me of that Adventures of Pete and Pete episode where younger Pete rides his bike across three time zones on daylight savings day so he could relive the same hour over and over again.)

"find your beach"
Our flight lands in Fiji before the sunrise and we find our ride to our hostel named Smugglers Cove. We are exhausted and looking forward to sleeping in a bed but unfortunately we cannot check into our room until at least 10am. We walk out onto the deck of Smugglers as the sun starts to rise showing us the calming first light of the Pacific Ocean. I have never seen the Pacific so calm and lake like. It was like we walked into the Corona beach commercial. We have breakfast and go for a walk amused in knowing that not too long ago we felt trapped in jobs we had no passion for. I think of all those days tethered to my desk by a phone headset and tell myself that this experience is at least two years overdue.

Getting lost in Fiji
The next five days in Fiji were impromptu. We did little research before we went and only spent some time there because it was cheaper to fly Air Pacific which connects through Fiji. We had no plans and figured we would just go with the flow. That flow introduced us to a German girl named Lena and a British guy named Andy. Lena just graduated from high school and wanted to spend a year traveling before she went to University to study journalism. Andy moved to Australia two years ago like we were doing and now lives in New Zealand with no real plans of returning home anytime soon. The four of us decided to try to “get lost” by hoping on a three and a half hour greyhound bus from Nadi to Suva. After about two hours we asked to get off and followed the only road to what became another backpacker’s hostel. This one was more secluded and a little nicer. We decided to spend the day there and enjoy the area.

Ending Up Here
Another Day we took a boat cruise to one of the outer islands. Apparently Fiji is some 300+ islands and many of them are uninhabited. The Cruise was a great idea. It took us snorkeling and we got to see the clear blue waters and white sand beaches that you see in pictures and postcards. Take note, if you are planning to go to Fiji someday, make sure you go to some of the outer islands as they are true paradise.

Andy and Lena
The nights at the hostel were mostly just having drinks and talking with other travelers. It seems that spending a least a year traveling is common in other parts of the world, especially for those from Germany and Britain. Most of the travelers were intrigued to hear that Patrick and I were from the US. They say they do not meet many people from the states on their travels. I guess it is because most of us are paranoid back home and do not travel. Honestly I cannot think of one parent who would let their 18-21 year old girl travel around their world by herself for a year. Yet we have met several young men and women doing just that in our travels so far. Still, everyone was friendly and accepting. From those leaving Australia after a year, to the British guys who were taking a year to make seven stops around the world. It was great to hear about them and their travels. It made me feel like I was now part of a tribe of people who enjoyed experiencing new things and cultures. It was positive reassurance that this trip was a good idea.

One of the nights Patrick and I joined the Kavaholics. Kava is some kind of root that they boil and strain water through like tea and then you drink it. It looks like muddy water and does not taste much better. Apparently if you drink large quantities you experience some kind of high, but all it did was make my tongue numb. Still, the locals said you do not truly experience Fiji unless you try it. So we did.

And just when we were getting comfortable with Fiji it was time to leave. We enjoyed our time there but it was time to move on to the real journey which begins in Sydney.


  1. Sounds very exciting. Can't wait to read chapter 2...well I say chapter 2 since I skipped over the f### work chapter because I saw you live it!