Our porter, an enormous man wearing a traditional sulu, pointed to the right and said “your room is that direction”. We headed off at our normal, harried, city pace and rounded two corners before we realized we’d left him, and our bags, in the dust. Not knowing where our room was, we backtracked to find him sauntering down the path with a smile on his face that indicated he was familiar with westerners needing to take a bit to adapt to the (very) slow pace of Fijian life.
Frazzled? Yes, we were. In a period of 3 1/2 months we’d sold our house and moved into an apartment while most of our possessions went into a storage unit. We’d found a farm to board both the horse and goat, become pin cushions at the travel clinic, and booked our first flight. We’d reserved our campervan in New Zealand and gotten our bills and banking figured out. What people DON’T realize is just how much needs to be taken into account when you step out of your life for a year.
For our first stop on our RTW, Jim’s parents graciously allowed us to use their time share in Fiji for 10 days. They understood what we really needed right then, a vacation. Fiji did the trick!
The country actually consists of over 300 islands groups, the most popular for backpackers being the Mamanucas and the Yasawas, well known for their beach hut shacks and easy living lifestyle.
Normally we would have been right there with them but at that time we really didn’t want to plan or think or make a decision! The time share, located on the man-made Denaru Island, was the ticket. Our two-bedroom unit at Worldmark, by Wyndham, had a kitchen, a washer & dryer, and a lovely patio overlooking the tropical grounds. The property had a restaurant, excellent pool, and fantastic beach. Paradise!
The Fijian people are, perhaps, the friendliest on earth. The men, while quite intimidating at first glance, are built like tree trunks but wear colorful sulus. The women dress in bright colored outfits, often with matching headbands and all are easy going, slow moving, and ready with a smile.
We did a few touristy trips while there; a snorkeling trip to the island where Castaway was filmed, a village visit, a caving tour, and several Kava ceremonies…..but, those 10 days were really about re-charging our batteries. We slept hours each night, swam and napped. We took long walks on the beach and talked endlessly about the fact that this was IT!!!! After years of discussion and planning, we were really embarking on a pivotal trip that would forever change the trajectory of our lives.
At that point in time we didn’t know exactly where this trip would lead us. Would we embrace this new life or hate being on the road full time? Would we never want to come home or would returning turn our stomachs over?
If you’ve followed our story, you know what happened. Yes, after 13months of traveling we did come home. But, we also realized we are happiest exploring all this amazing planet has to offer.
We’re back in preparation mode, but this time we know exactly what we’ll be getting ourselves into, and we couldn’t be more excited!