Sunday, January 4, 2009

Vinaka, Vinaka Vakalevu

After only a moment to exhale at home, without even completely unpacking, I was off again. This time, I was with my family, headed for Fiji. A little sick (mysterious tropical germies) my little time home and the whole sixteen hours of travel were a blur. All for the best, I suppose, it may have been just as bewildering to be conscious of crossing the international dateline and “magically” skipping forward a day. For all I know I had just passed out for that whole day.

In Fiji, I once again found myself in an amiable, tropical paradise. A place where the people smiled and waved and greeted you with hugs (and at hotels with songs and a foot massage). This was a totally different kind of trip. We stayed at a beautiful, nearly empty, resort for the first couple days to get adjusted to the new time zone, and to give me a chance to get over my mystery illness. And then we got on the Tui Tai.

Now, I had no idea what the heck we were going to do. I thought it was a dive boat...but that’s not quite right because Mom and Nikko (non-divers) were promised to enjoy themselves....What it turned out to be was an “adventure cruise”, with a small list of passengers and an even smaller rank of crew. For a week we lived on this boat getting to know fellow passengers and crew very closely. Relaxing it was not—this was not your ordinary “cruise” cruise. We woke for a 7am dive every morning and had activities (snorkeling, kayaking, hikes and bike rides on various islands, and visiting small villages as we sailed by them) all day long, virtually non-stop. And every landing was a wet landing.

It would be impossible to summarize every day and every activity. Sufficed to say, we did some amazing things. Went diving with manta rays, jumped off of waterfalls, and drank kava with locals. And we met amazing people. Regular people. Fijians of many origins and “microcultures,” and Indo-fijians—hardworking people without a nation. Each of them added something new to our experiences. As one of our fellow passengers said—we are all different colors, and as we come together and share our lives with each other, we are making every life that we touch a little more colorful.

Vinaka vekelevu, Fiji, for making me a little more colorful, far after my tan fades, this trip’s colors will still have left their mark.

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