We wake at 5.30am, and the satisfaction of waking up our children will be the first of many delights we will have these holidays!
Airports are funny old places – even the new ones, Airports are a mixture of excitement and exhaustion. Business and pleasure. Love, and broken hearts. Every journey is different. Travel diaries aren’t about airports, however. They aren’t the story. Airports are simply a punctuation mark. They can sometimes feel like a full stop – waiting around for something, or someone to arrive, the end of something. A full stop they are not, a comma they are. A small pause in a sentence, a dividing line between the before and after.
If an airport is but a comma, then the actual airplane trip is the space between two paragraphs. It’s the awkward silence in the elevator. You’re groundless for a few hours, rendered to seat 22F next to the smelly Indian man and the isle, both of which invade your personal space. If the smelly stranger isn’t an assault on your eyes and nose, then the complimentary meal would be compliment week old leftovers. Thankfully, the tea and coffee is prefect, if your definition of coffee perfection is International Roast served in tepid water with UHT milk. As they say, beggars aren’t choosers, so you drink the coffee, sit back and think of England.
So we arrived in Fiji – Nadi to be exact. Nadi Airport is a blend of Island smiles and 1970’s technology. We meet our hotel transfer, who tells us to sign in at the ‘last office on the left’, which is kinda funny cause there’s only one office. We are introduced to Pedro, who introduces us to Suelso, who introduces us to Josepha, who introduces us back to Pedro, who’s just gotten off the phone, who tells us our transport is running ‘late’. Of course, if you’ve been to Fiji, you know there’s no such thing as ‘running late’. By that token, there’s no such thing as running on time, either. Of course, it doesn’t really matter, because the only reason you go to Fiji is to do nothing. So it doesn’t matter if you’re running on time, or running late, or just running, because it’s impossible to be in a rush to get to a place where you’re not going to do anything. It’s kinda like wasting time now so you don’t have to waste time later.
Even if you were in a rush to do nothing, or something, or anything, it would be impossible to do it quickly. The main drag down through Fiji is limited to 80km/hour, and 50km/hour when you’re on a bus with a trailer, like we were on. That’s right. 50km/hour, and to be honest, on the Queens Road, that felt a little excessive at times. You know you’re no longer in Australia when you pass a ute carrying 3 horses and three guys in the tray, and it seems totally normal.
In my notes, I detoured a bit and I might jot those thoughts down as a separate blog, cause it frames some key themes I was keen on exploring both personally and in a literary sense.. So stay tuned!
We stopped off at a spot the driver knew where we’d get ‘locals only’ prices. I paid too much for bottled water and wish I’d spent more on nicer crackers. As we left, raindrops fell on the bus window, echoing our drivers announcement that the Coral Coast was green, due to a large amount of the aformentioned rain.
Crawling through Sigatoka with it’s slum-like buildings, dirty roads and it’s faded signs of depicting smiling Fijians selling Vodaphone and Coke-Cola was a contrast. I didn’t see too many people smiling in Sigatoka.
Finally, we arrived at the Outrigger. “BULA” yelled the guard at the front gate – the first of many BULAS that would be yelled our way!! Warm smiles and bulas were a sharp contrast to the cyclonic winds and rain now pounding the usually serene tropical resort. We quickly settled into our resort and thus, began our holiday.
I need to say at this point that when it comes to eating, I’m not really that adventurous. At all. I thought though, seeing as we were here and seeing as I pre-paid for the meals (best decision!!), I might as well try a few new things. As the kids say – ‘YOLO’. At the resort, there was an Asian-inspired restaurant, a steakhouse, a bistro kinda place and a few other nice places. Well we couldn’t get a seat at the steakhouse and it was seafood night at the bistro, so I reluctantly elected for Asian. How bad could it be, right? In the spirit of trying new things, I went for the teryiaki beef skewers for an entree, then a Chinese sizzling plate of BBQ lamb. I need to mention at this point that none of these meals had any meaningful vegetable content, so it looked okay.
Boy-o-boy. Did I simply love dinner! Who would of thought Asian food would have been so delicious? I guess 3 billion Chinese can’t be wrong, right? Sarah had a Singapore noodle dish. I can’t remember what Zo had and Eli had chips – the first bowl of many.
After dinner, we caught the Polynesian fire dancers – wow, were they amazing! Well, the dancing was amazing, as was the way the fire twirled around. The fact that it was outside, in the rain, was kinda ordinary, but the dancing was great! An evening stroll through the grounds and we were ready to turn in for the night. Well, we were, the kids, not so much.
Like any very organised, caring mother, Sarah had packed a chemist worth of drugs for everything and anything. Everything, except, for the phenergen. The kids eventually dropped off, quickly followed by Sarah, quickly followed by me surrounded by snoring, in stereo. Being introverted, I thought I’d use the time to recharge, and listen to some fantastic David Pawson that I’d downloaded. Now usually I’m enraptured by Pawson’s expository teaching, and his musings on Leviticus would usually keep me enthralled, but tonight, even Pawson himself couldn’t keep me awake. I found myself drifting to sleep, imagining what the week in Fiji would bring.