Saturday, February 4, 2017

Bula Vinaka Fiji, Part 1

October 6-9, 2016 
Denarau Island, Fiji

Our flight took off from LAX on Tuesday, October 4 around 11:30 p.m. and landed on Thursday, October 6th in Nadi, Fiji. October 5th may have been the best day of my life, I'll never know ;)

It was a respectable 7:30 a.m. by the time we'd made it through customs and back to Grammy and Grampy's airport hotel, the Toka Toka. My parents live in Suva, on the opposite side of Fiji that we landed in. There is an airport on their side of the island, and we left from it coming home, but we wanted to see as much of Fiji as possible, so we intentionally planned for the three hour drive across Fiji one way.

My parents came to Nadi the day before we arrived and stayed the night in a hotel to make it easier for our early morning flight pick up. The Toka Toka hotel was our first glimpse of Fiji, and it was a good one. I took one look at the amazing hotel pool slide and my heart sank for little Maggie and her cast. We quickly decided that we were in Fiji, and we were just going to have to let it go. We suited her up with the cast protector we'd bought off Amazon and prayed for the best.

I must have put that blue sleeve on and off her arm about 100 times over the next two weeks. We got really good at it, and by golly, it held.

Somehow (uh, so much jetlag) we managed to leave the Toka Toka without taking a picture of the pool. This playground was part of the hotel though, and it was pretty neat. It was our first indication that nothing in Fiji gets wasted. They use and re-use everything. They could teach Washingtonians a thing or two about recycling and that is saying something.

After checking out of the Toka Toka, we headed directly to Burger King. I know, it seems funny, but there isn't a Burger King near Grammy and Grampy's house in Suva and it was a special treat for them. They had driven across Fiji to pick us up, they'd earned some Burger King.

After lunch, we went to check in at the Wyndham Worldmark Resort where we'd spend the next few days. We were greeted with fresh pineapple and cool towels at check in. The girls were pretty sure they had found their place.

I remember little from the rest of that day and the next, but the following night we went to a fire dancing show and it was so cool. Also, Ward began his practice of falling asleep all over the place. He slept through a lot those first few days. 

Slowly we gained our bearings and enjoyed all the resort had to offer. There was always live music, coconuts, and scorching heat to be had.

Amos was uber obsessed with getting a coconut to drink out of. This guy with a machete was happy to oblige. Amos didn't care for the coconut milk one bit. But, I'm glad he tried it. Trying new things isn't always one of our strengths.

Ward continued to fall asleep all over.

Every night the kids got to help light the Tiki torches around the resort.

One afternoon there was the strangest of activities...a frog race!

All of the frogs started out in the middle of a circle, and the first to hop out won! They taped tiny country flags onto their backs and took bets. I can't remember who won, but New Zealand and Australia were the favorites. 

Of course, there was tons of swimming. It was a necessity to keep cool. It was SO hot. I swear the sun was sitting right on top of our heads. We also practiced with Grampy's underwater camera and the snorkeling equipment for the next part of our trip on "Barefoot Island."

From the resort, we took two great half day trips. The first was ziplining at Sleeping Giant Ziplines near the village of Sabeto. Not being in the U.S., with U.S. regulations, everyone was able to go. Admittedly, I considered that I might have made a mistake as I watched them hurl Ward off the platform and down the line, but he absolutely LOVED it. He screamed like the happiest little banshee there ever was. It was a small course we could do as many times as we wanted, and all of the kids kept going around and around until the van was ready to take us home for the day.

Part of our zip experience was a hike to Orchid falls. It was low season, and not quite looking like the brochure, but the kids enjoyed it all the same.

Back at the resort, Ward was back to falling asleep all willy nilly.

The next day we took a trip to the place I was most excited for-the Sabeto village mud baths. Once upon a time the villagers discovered a hot boiling pool in their yard. They considered it a gift, and set about harnessing it's powers. Now, anyone can visit and partake in the mud's healing properties. It was so funny, fun, and relaxing.

First, you start by covering yourselves in the special mud.

Then, you let the mud dry. We overdid it, and weren't really drying. We took an extra long walk around the yard to aid the process.

Once you're dry, it's into the first pool for a rinse.

After you're rinsed, it's into the second pool, and what I'd consider the greatest hot tub on earth. I could have stayed there forever.

Soon enough, it was time to leave the countryside and head back to the resort. Via an "off the books" bus. It made me a little nervous, not going to lie. It had been arranged by our previous day's driver whose wife was LDS though, so no need to fear. If you can cut out the resort middle man, it is a much better deal.

I accidentally bought Ward this shirt without realizing it was a tank top. He'd never really worn it before, and when we put it on him he was really frustrated with us because it was missing sleeves. He was sure we'd done something wrong, it was so funny.

The rest of our resort time was filled with touristy things like beaded braids, and grass weaving demonstrations. We managed to make some time for the kids to get some school work done too. We also enjoyed a very delicious chocolate Grammy made and brought for Amos and Audrey's birthdays. Grammy kept saying something about hoping for cake by ocean (Ah ya ya ya ya)...

This picture represents so many things: 1. the large box contains crackers that were Amos' main diet staple for our entire trip. He could not get enough of them. He even brought them back for his classmates. 2. Fiji water. We drank a lot of it. 3. the Fijian practice of leaving flowers lying around everywhere. I actually miss the flowers all over the counters. 4. Grammy's cooking was the best food of the trip. Unless you're Amos, and then it was the crackers.

Yes, more of Ward sleeping. But, also, an unintentional capture of the few other Americans we saw the entire time we were in Fiji.

And with that the first part of our grand adventure was over and it was on to next phase of our trip...or was it?

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