It was still dark when I woke up. The house was quiet. Finally. But it was 5 a.m. My landlady and her husband had returned from Australia the day before after two and a half weeks of watching her son’s children whilst he was away in Germany with his wife. Needless to say they were starved for adult attention and invited some friends over to partake in the bounty of their duty-free purchases. When people in their 50s and 60s get on it, they tend not to be reserved or concerned with their volume level. Liquor bottles, beer bottles, mixers and finger food still adorn the kitchen island. But I don’t stay long in the kitchen as someone is passed out on the couch and I don’t want to wake him. I popped next door to Lisa’s house and loaded the car. It’s a bittersweet departure – my second time leaving Motueka, but at least this time I know I will probably come back one day. It was harder, however, to say good-bye to Lisa at the airport.
My flight to Auckland was uneventful. I watched the sun rise into the clouds and it was a gorgeous farewell.
In Auckland, finding the Koru Lounge was easy. Handing my boarding pass to the lady at the desk and being permitted entry was even easier. Choosing what to drink and eat for breakfast was the difficult decision. There were pancakes and yogurt and fruit, museli and quiche and casseroles, a barrista, fresh juice and a fridge stocked with alcohol, and to top it all off, free Internet and showers available. Everything was free. So this is why I paid the extra $110NZD and upgraded my ticket to Works Deluxe. Or so I thought. Primarily I upgraded so I wouldn’t have to pay an extortionate price for my extra luggage. It wasn’t until I got into my seat, however, that I figured out why I may always upgrade. I never knew there could be this much legroom. I have my legs crossed and my shoe still isn’t touching the seat in front of me. It’s close, but no. I even have my backpack under the seat and I clearly still have enough room to stretch out. Even the little TV in the seatback in front of me is a mild perk. Why can’t I always fly like this? OH, and the extra perk would be that there’s no one in the seats beside me. Or it would be if the armrests were the moveable type. They are not. I will just have to endure it. OH crap. I just found out I have a leg rest. I love my life.
The moment I get off the plane in Nadi I know I am over-dressed. Why didn’t I change into the shorts I had stuffed in my carry-on? The humidity had to be 80 per cent. The temperature 30C at the least. But I am distracted by the beautiful De Havilland Twin Otters parked in front of Air Pacific’s hangar. It’s a skydiver thing. There’s two guys strumming away on ukuleles (I think) as we walk inside the air-conditioned terminal, but customs are painless and it’s a short time before I’m on the shuttle bus with five other girls, two of them solo travelers as well. We talk about where we’re from and where we’re going and where we’ve just been. It’s normal traveller chit-chat.
My first impression of Fiji is it’s poor. There’s litter everywhere. Everything is over-grown. And while the shops are all outside-type broken-down stallish-looking shops, it doesn’t bother me. It reminds me of Florida and it’s tiny ghettos in the middle of nowhere, only not so ghettoish. It doesn’t really feel like a city, so I’m thinking we’re kind of taking the back road to the hostel. There are very few cars on the road and many people are walking. Everyone moves slowly in this heat. Moving quickly will just make you sweat more. I am beginning to understand the true reason for ‘island-time.’
But so I get to my hostel. It’s not a gorgeous and beautiful hostel crammed along a busy waterfront with sprawling mega-million resorts and a full harbour of racing boats and pleasure crafts. Nooope. It’s a building, nicer than most I saw on the drive from the airport, surrounded by five or so other hostels on a quiet stretch of beach far from any resorts or any marina or any build-up of any kind. We are secluded. It is private. There are palm trees and a pool and little thatched-roofed shade stands and lounge chairs filled with bikini-clad guests soaking up the evening rays. There’s a cruise ship anchored far out in the sea and there’s a regatta going on two hostels down. The tide is out and I must walk far across the sand to dip my feet in the warm warm Fijian waters. Huge cumulous clouds are building in the sky and I hope I may see a thunder storm. It’s been far too long. But nothing happens.
The sun sets and I find myself relaxed. There’s a beer in my hand, and I’m wading through an ocean of warm water. I wish I’d planned something sooner for tomorrow, but I’m content with delaying my money-spending decision and baking in the sun all day tomorrow. This is my vacation and I’m gonna act like it.
I got a little burnt, as always. But I did drink the juice of a green coconut picked fresh off the tree, and I ate its fleshy inside. Okay, I downed it, and it was wonderful. And I watched some tandems land on the beach and I felt compelled to ask how much a sport jump would be. It’ll be an early night tonight to wake early (6:30 a.m.) to meet the Yasawa Flyer. Next stop – Manta Ray Island in the Yasawas.