Weekly Blogging Challenge #3: Far From Home

Since I’ve started this weekly blogging challenge I’ve been seeking out inspiration for topics to write about. Today’s challenge was inspired by the Daily Prompt: Far from home, that I found on the blog “The Daily Post“. I know I’m a bit late as this prompt was posted back on July 15th but it’s still an interesting challenge.

Anyway for this challenge I have decided to write about my October 2009 trip to Fiji. For me it was an unforgettable, life altering experience that left me wanting to travel more. It was a first for me for many various reasons.

When I turned 25, I went through a mid-midlife crisis. Upset that in the first 25 years of my life I had achieved so little for myself, I created a bucket list of things to accomplish before I turned 30. First thing on the list was to finally travel somewhere amazing. It was important to me to prove to myself that I could achieve any goal I set before me. Until taking this trip, I had never traveled anywhere outside of Canada, had never been on an airplane and the majority of my vacation’s meant camping with the family. My family being of low income couldn’t afford exotic vacation’s, so most of my traveling experience has been between Alberta and British Columbia. Many summers were spent camping in the Rockies (which are breathtakingly beautiful), but as I got older I desired to see more of the world.

I don’t remember exactly when I decided that Fiji was where I wanted to travel first. I do remember that I chose the destination with the idea in mind that it was one of the farthest places in the world I could travel. I spent days, learning all about the country, the people and the sites to see. Each day getting more and more excited at the prospect that I could actually visit there someday. It was during my research into finding the perfect island to visit that I came across this photo.  (Seen below) 

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It was after seeing this beautiful image that I swore to myself that one day I would be standing on that exact tree and get my photo taken.  So I set in motion a plan to spend my 27th birthday at Nanuya Island Resort.

Now I wasn’t too interested in going on this vacation by myself. I initially invited my GF at the time to come with me (we ended up splitting up before any reservations were made because she was cheating on me), so I eventually ended up going with my best friend John, which was pretty awesome. Both of us had never traveled anywhere this exciting, and who better to celebrate your birthday with abroad then your best friend right? We left on Thanksgiving in October ( Canadian Thanksgiving being on the 14th and my birthday on the 21st) for our 10 day trip. Our trip would take us 3 hours from Edmonton to Los Angeles, (where we were initially supposed to have a 12hr layover that ended up being over night due to flight cancellation), then a 10 hour 45 min flight from LA to Nadi ,Fiji. We stayed over night in Nadi as it was still another 5 hour boat ride to Nanuya Island. I must say that’s quite an accomplishment for a first time flyer and I am proud of how well I handled such a long flight/travel time.

The boat we took from the mainland to the island was pretty nice. Called the Yasawa flyer it took us on a trip through the Yasawa islands stopping along the way to drop off and pick up travelers. Totally with the extra $$ to stay in the Air Conditioned cabin where we enjoyed the views and the company of the staff on board who were always smiling and full of interesting facts about each island. When we arrived to the island and were immediately greeted by the resorts staff, who presented us with some hand made seashell necklaces and a tasty cool, fruity drink. Jioji, who was the resident bartender gave us a briefing session about the island and what to expect. We then settled in for 8 days of true relaxation.

After 2 years planning and many hours of travel, finally I had made it. Nanuya Island Resort, FijiImage

(Can you believe how blue that water is?)

We spent the first day just relaxing, eating some good food, smoking some Cuban’s and just soaking in the experience. I couldn’t believe I was actually there, yet there I was watching the sunset behind the island across the way. I snapped the photographs (below) to capture the moment and the beauty of what I was seeing.

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(The pictures truly don’t do that view justice. So beautiful I’ll never forget it.)

Now I booked this vacation with the plan in mind to do absolutely nothing for most of the time. I wanted to get away from all the noise, crowds, stress and responsibilities of my environment back home. So I pretty much spent the majority of my time there sleeping, reading, listening to music, sleeping, and exploring the island and enjoying the delicious eats provided by the resort. We even took an hour long walk around the island during low tide in which John was burnt to a crisp (Such a pasty white fucker lol). We did end up taking a trip to the Sawa-I-Lau underwater caves on my birthday, where we took a underwater dive through a very small 5 meter long opening to access the caves which was a bit scary, If you are brave enough like me you can take a cliff dive off a 30 foot high cliff into the clear waters below. (I didn’t get any pictures of the caves as I didn’t bring a water proof camera so see the link provided to check the caves out).

My time on the island was going pretty well, we met lots of people from different places around the world despite how remote a location we were at, including this Swedish guy and his girlfriend who talked hockey with us the whole time we were there. I spent a lot of time taking photographs of various things on the island from the animals, flowers, the beautiful ocean view and just silly things. During one such photo op I came across a can sitting on a tree. All rusted and gross I decided to pick it up to go and toss it in the garbage as it seemed wrong to have it sitting there. When I picked it up a lizard popped out of the can and scared the shit outta me. I managed to snap a few photos of him as he certainly wasn’t overly afraid of me. Image

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He obviously had made the can his home so I returned it to where I found it and let him be. But he was by far the largest lizard I saw my entire time there. The place was crawling with little lizards of varying colors.

I took lots of photos of the flowers on the island because it was littered with them. The flowers I loved the most I snapped this photo of. It’s one of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken. Perfect composition in my books.

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( I love the deep yellow colour with the white edges. I keep meaning to sketch this photo.)

So eventually it was time to say goodbye and go home. My final night there I started getting sick so I didn’t get to take part in the traditional Kava drinking ceremony they were holding. I was disappointed but I didn’t want to get anyone else sick. We said our thanks and good byes to the staff and the people we met. John gave Jioji his LED flashlight as a going away gift as Jioji had never seen one before.

Before we left I made sure that one more photo was taken. I swore to myself I would make it to that tree and get my photo taken of me standing on it. Image

( I made it. I totally made it)

This is my favorite photo of the entire trip.  What was initially a daydream inspired by a random photo I found online, became a reality for me. It’s proof that if I want something bad enough and am willing to put in the work to accomplish it that I can do it. This trip was certainly a life altering experience for me, it left me with memories to last a life time, a taste of the culture the world has to offer and it left me with a burning desire to explore the rest of the world. But most of all it was a truly humbling experience. Before I left all my life’s problems seemed so big because my world was so small. Now my life seems so small because the world is so big.

Thanks for reading tonight’s challenge, I truly enjoyed writing it. I know its a bit late in posting but it took me a few hours to write this out as I struggled deciding which photos to share. Please feel free to share comments, questions etc if you have any.

(NOTE: All photos except the first one were taken by me. I own them. The photographer of the first photo is unknown to me)

(NOTE#2. I didn’t include pics of the resort itself on purpose. It was more important to share my story then upsell the hotel, but I want it to be known they were amazing, affordable, courteous and well maintained. If you’re considering a trip to Fiji please consider Nanuya Island. You can find more info on them at http://www.nanuyafiji.com )

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