More than Alive & In Paradise

More than Alive & In Paradise

Well, my sincerest apologies for yet again the complete lack of updates on my blog. I journal every single day and plan to type it all up once I finally settle. This is just a brief overview about my biggest update…I’m in Fiji!!!
Last minute adventures are the best, and I’m so happy this opportunity presented itself to me at the perfect time. I was in Auckland, New Zealand and not sure what to do next. A job, a certification that could help me, an internship? I had over a month left and really wanted to accomplish something. It was getting cold, considering in New Zealand winter is just beginning. As you may know, I’m not a big fan of the cold. My travels kind of dance around in a way so I can have an endless summer or warm weather. I had many traveling friends whose next stop were the Fiji Islands. Just for giggles I looked into the flight, one thing added to the next, I called my credit company, Air New Zealand, all that jazz. Found a really incredible place and deal to get Rescue Diver certified on the island of Taveuni, the step before Dive Master, which is my goal in the end, and to be instructor certified as well. Barely an extra cost to change my flight to stop in Fiji from Auckland. So…wow I’m here!! I’ve been here since April 11th, and it really is paradise. Let me tell you about it because most people don’t know much about Fiji besides they have some pretty posh bottled water.

Fiji consists of 333 islands. Some you can walk around in 5 minutes. A lot of crystal brilliant blue water, white sand beaches, palm tree paradise. The Fijian people are worldwide renown for their hospitality and genuine friendly and loving nature. English is officially the first language but they speak Fijian when not speaking with tourists. They look Caribbean, and have many interesting traditions, such as drinking kava from a kava bowl on the ground in a welcome ceremony every night, kava is a traditional Fijian root juice which can make you very sleepy and even loopy if you drink a lot. It doesn’t taste very great, and I came to find out my throat swelled up from it very badly each time I drank it so my kava days are over!

Fiji is right in the heart of the South Pacific, nearby the Cook Islands and only a couple of hours flight from New Zealand. It’s a popular vacation spot for Kiwis and Aussies. The main island is Viti Levu, which has the two big cities (more like larger towns), Suva and Nadi (Naann-di). Fiji really is paradise for the upper class vacation family or honeymooning couple, but in reality it is a poor country. You can easily hide away on remote islands on gorgeous resorts, many islands only have one resort and the most expensive can cost up to $35,000FJD a night, which is roughly 20+k USD. Yes, really. That island is obviously ridiculously exaggerating price wise, and has had Tom Cruise, Paris Hilton, and Oprah as previous guests. But when you come as a backpacker on a budget and stay at budget accommodation you can understand the real Fiji a bit more. It isn’t like Hawaii here, it isn’t Americanized. It is so remote and there are many things that have yet to be imported here. You are the minority when you have pale skin and blue eyes, and in the bustling town with a hundred people trying to sell you papayas because you are immediately recognized as a tourist, it can be overwhelming.
Fiji might be one of the easiest places to 100% live off of the land. Spear fishing is immensely popular (I’ve seen 30 too many fish heads being cooked on frying pans in restaurants), there are coconuts, papayas (called “pawpaws”), mandarins, mango, eggplant, avocado, and so many more fruits and vegetables just hanging around everywhere, especially if you know where to look. You are constantly hearing and saying “Bula!” meaning “welcome, hello, and life”, and “vinaka” meaning “thank you”. Bounty rum is notorious Fijian rum produced here, Fiji water is cheap and also popular, and Fiji Gold beer is another drink you see everywhere. There is a large popular of Fijian and Indian Fijian, so you hear mostly Fijian and Hindi in the streets.

I’ve been in Taveuni island a large portion of my trip getting Advanced open water, Emergency First Response training, and Rescue Diver certified…next stop is Dive Master! I had one weekend of island hopping just to Beachcomber island, the “Party Island” (also my cheapest option) which that was very laid back, although some nights, not so much. I’m currently in Suva for just a few days and just came into town from Beqa (pronounced Ben-ga) island, where I’m doing a marine conservation project for 2 weeks. It’s very basic camping with fun and like-minded people and I’m diving almost everyday, I’m also learning fish identification and trying to care for the stray puppies and kittens who aren’t doing too well. No internet, electricity, a mat on the floor with a mosquito net, too many carbs and running water straight from a creek upstream to drink and bathe in. Feels nice to get away from everything for a little while, but I’ve never been more grateful for a bed too. Many updates to come once I have internet in a week again:) And back to Philadelphia late May!!!

**Picture taken in Nadi, Fiji, original**

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