Saturday, April 8, 2017

Bula Vinaka Fiji, Part 2

October 11-15
Barefoot Manta, Drawaqa Island

Picking up where we left off...MAKING THE BOAT! The weather was still a little dicey Tuesday morning, but we were ready for our island adventure. The marina bus was late picking us up, and then we got stuck in construction traffic, but we made the boat this time =) The sweet air conditioning of the Captain's lounge, free wifi and snacks quickly washed away the anxiousness of the morning and all we had to do was sit back and enjoy the ride. 

And enjoy the ride, we did. We were the only guests in the captain's lounge on Tuesday morning (another missing the boat perk!) and we had the lounge hostess, Louisa, all to ourselves. We quickly realized, traveling with missionaries and their name tags, it didn't take long for Mormons to identify themselves to us. Louisa was a sweet LDS sister who was pretty excited to talk to my parents. The last time we traveled with the kids (to the Dominican Republic), it was baby Ward that drew crowds of adoring onlookers. This time, it was Grammy and Grampy. EVERYWHERE we went people wanted to talk to them. 

The best part of this picture was Louisa asked to take her picture with US. Well, probably just Grammy and Grampy, but she got us all:

The scenery as we traveled up the Yasawa Islands was unreal. The boat ride was definitely one of the highlights of the trip, and definitely the first time we felt "true" Fiji (the time at the Worldmark, while awesome, could have happened in Mexico, the Caribbean, or anywhere).

One island had a warrior, that would come out to greet the boats as they passed by. Poor Louisa had to correct me like ten times that it was a real man and not a statue!

Quite the job to climb out and stand up there a couple hours each day!

For reference, we started at the yellow dot, Nadi, and went to number 8, Barefoot Manta Island, approximately 3 hours.

More live flowers plopped on a table. I LOVED it.

As we passed each island, two long boats would come to meet us, one for luggage and another for people. They would pull up right beside the Flyer, and make the transfers. Then, the Flyer would zoom off, leaving the little long boats in it's wake.

Most islands had one "resort" section, for the tourists:

And a "village" section for the locals and employees:

The weather was still pretty gray and dreary, but I am happy to report it was smooth, clear enough to see and there was no sea sickness.

All too soon we were approaching Barefoot Island and it was our turn to head below deck to make the transfer to our long boat. 

Goodbye, Flyer!

First view of Barefoot Island...

As the boat pulled up to the beach, we were greeted by a group singing and playing Ukuleles. It was like a scene from a movie. Probably a scene from a romantic getaway in a romantic comedy, but there we were ;)

Once off the boat, we headed to the main lodge where we would spend a good deal of time over the next few days. The staff was amazing, and greeted us by name upon arrival. They did an awesome job of checking on the kids and making sure we were happy all the time. By the end of the stay we joked that they had us bugged, because someone would say something, and out of nowhere an employee would pop up to meet the need. I also would have liked to have cameras on them to watch them wander all over the island looking for us all the time. They always seemed to find us...

Once we checked in, they showed us to our super sweet ultra deluxe Bures on Sunset beach. Grampy went all out for the primo lodging on this one. There was one bure for us, and one for Grammy and Grampy. Again, the stuff honeymoons are made of, but there we were ;)

Walking up the path to our bure:

The view of the beach from our front porch:

 More live flowers!

We were super spoiled with private bathrooms, and they were SO nice. I LOVED the style of them. I can't believe I didn't get a picture of the toilet (let's be honest, I probably thought, who takes pictures of toilets?), but now I sure wish I would have. The outdoor shower was so cool. The pictures don't really do it justice, but it's better than nothing (see: toilet photo, er, lack thereof).

Next to our bure, was Grammy and Grampy's bure. They were identical, except we had an extra set of bunk beds where they had a desk.

Those really cool sliding wood doors open to the bathroom:

Note the soft sided tent windows, that are open:

One is supposed to rinse their feet in the yellow bucket before going in the bure, we struggled with that all week and had sand everywhere. Oops.

The white roofs are ours, and Grammy and Grampy's:

Back to the main dining area...

This was our table for our entire stay. We felt pretty special with our little "reserved" sign just for us. The staff decorated it, and set it so nice for every meal for us. They took really, really good care of us. 

The first few hours on Barefoot Island were spent excitedly trying to take it all in, and we'd barely done so when the skies betrayed us. A storm, just like the one the night before came rolling in while we were at dinner. It was freezing! We all put on all the clothes we had and tried to stay dry. Sadly, I didn't take any pictures of that, because I am thinking it looked funny. Also, we'd left the windows of our Bure open, and our beds totally got wet. We're awesome.

It rained all night and to about lunch the next day...we got into the ocean a little, but spent the first 24 hours mostly inside coloring, watching ocean documentaries (the only movies they had on the island, but the kids were weirdly into them), and playing cards.

The gray before the storm: 

Don't worry though, soon enough it cleared up and we were cooking. 

A little sneak preview of the coming days...

And getting to hear Grammy's laugh.