Saturday, March 18, 2006

doing fiji the wrong way... still good

fiji is an absolutely beautiful country, with islands of sand and islands from volcanic activity. the scenery is stunning. the water is incredible. the reefs are everywhere. the sand is white. the vegetation is lush and in a perfect shade of green. and the resorts are quiet, the beaches are deserted and it is just so easy to relax.

but i did fiji the wrong way. the wrong way for me, that is. i've always imagined fiji as this romantic, special destination where you get luxury for the cash you put down. but we did fiji the backpacker's way, in dorm rooms in nadi and in basic bure on the islands. and i felt like i was in asia, with a slightly better landscape. i felt like i was paying more than 10 times more for the accommodation than i should, than i would have in asia for the same deal. and so fiji was nice, but i was disappointed to be doing it the wrong way.

we spent our first night in nadi, in a very, very basic dorm room. we then booked ourselves in a package that included the boat rides, 3 night stays in 2 islands and the food. it was cheaper and easier to do it that way.

our first island was naviti, a big volcanic island with 3 resorts on the same beach. when i say that, it is important to understand that the beach was still deserted and that in our daily walks we'd hardly even cross someone on the beach. our resort was really quiet, we were only 7 guests in the entire resort... and so we had about 20 staff members to ourselves! our beach was beautiful and long, but the big fallout of the resort is that we couldn't really swim in the water as the reef came right to the beach. we did find a few spots deep enough to squat ourselves in and a couple places were we could go in but we were always afraid of getting into the reef, of hurting ourselves or the reef. so, we mostly walked on the beach and at low tide, we'd explore the reef by walking it in spots where there was nothing to damage. we saw plenty of sea cucumbers, sea stars, sea snakes (to which a staff member asked with a really concerned face where we'd seen them - all over - only to say after that they are harmless - which i doubt) fish and crabs. we also saw a couple feet long shark and i spotted a small ray. not too bad for no water!

our last island was kuata, a smaller but still quite big volcanic island. we were at the only resort on it, a "nature resort" which we found out meant you got the entire bug population in your room at night due to the lack of screens in the windows - thank god for mossie nets. the resort was quite nice though, and so was the beach and the view: we were facing another island. here we got to snorkel and i really enjoyed it there, and for some crazy reason liked the snorkeling here better than on the barrier reef in oz. maybe it was because it was sunny in fiji and i could see more colours in the corrals. maybe it was because i wasn't being assaulted by jellyfish. but i saw tons of fish, quite colourful, and i even got trapped in a school of what looked like sardines. what looked like 20 thousand sardines decided that i was worthy of a visit and they proceeded to encircle me. it was really cool, to be surrounded by a wall of fish but it also meant that i could no longer see where i was going and i was afraid i'd hit the wall of the reef at any moment. it was so cool though. it's such an incredible sight.

we left the resort at 4pm and headed back to nadi for some food and our flight back home. for some reason i was quite fine about all of that, about flying out, about this trip ending. i guess i had gotten used to the idea. and so, there were no panic attacks this time. just surrender to what you cannot change, i guess.


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