Bula from Fiji! I keep pinching myself that I’m actually here. It has been such a long adventure to get here in the first place. Starting in Philadelphia and having an 18 hour layover in LAX to an 11 hour flight to Nadi, then an 1.5 hour boat ride to the island. I’m completely exhausted, and slightly disoriented, but to say it was worth it, is completely an understatement.
I have been met with a smile and hello, or bula, at every turn. The people are so nice and amazingly accommodating.
I came to Fiji to just relax, with no real plan or ideas about what I wanted to photograph, which is extremely rare for me. I have been working like a crazy person at a break neck pace for 10 months, and I’m ready to sit by the pool or on the beach, relax and enjoy the surroundings. But as those who know me closely, know I can’t sit still for too long.
After two days of sitting beach side, I figured it was time to start exploring the island that I’m on. I took a bike that the resort offered for free, and set off down one of the dirt roads, not really sure where I was going. It was so beautiful riding down this costal road and seeing where it leads me. I ended up in this amazing little village center and met this sweet older gentleman who told me about his time on the island during the war, and he showed me how to carve love birds out of wood. I would have loved to have taken that sculpture with me, but seeing that I was going to New Zealand next, and they are very strict about what can be brought into the country, I left it with the memory of a great afternoon.
That same day, I learned that my grandfather was stationed in Fiji from my mom. He never talked about Fiji, so I had no idea that this was one of the places he set foot while being part of the Pacific Campaign. Based on the photo I saw, it looks like he was on one of the islands close to me. To be in this place knowing that I’m walking in his footsteps and looking through my lens the same way he did, is just so emotionally overwhelming. Having this ability to connect with him in this manner, and feel his ever guiding presences next to me, has me on the edge of my seat, getting to see what he saw (for the most part) and to have this special connection with me. These types of memories will be something I hold dear for the rest of my life.
After my day of exploration and taking my first few photos, I went back to the resort to relax and enjoy the company of some new friends I have made. 4 Hours later, a birthday cake and drinks all around, I have made some connections and memories that will last a lifetime.
I can’t say enough wonderful things about this beautiful place. From paddleboarding, snorkling, surfing, hiking and biking, there definitely isn’t a lack of things to do here. The resort I stayed at, Lomani, was beautiful, the staff was amazing and knew my name by the end of the first day, always anticipating my next need. Minnie and Tara by far left a long lasting impression on me, the two of them went above and beyond everything one would expect, down to making sure I had breakfast at 4:00am my last day before I caught the ferry (aka, speed boat) to Nadi to catch my flight to New Zealand.
Vinaka Fiji, for the wonderful memories, and helping me completely relax for the first time in years. I can’t wait to come back one day and enjoy more Fiji time.