Bula Bula, Bliss or Blah?
It is six am and I am lounged on the forward deck, sipping a cup of coffee, enjoying my first sunrise in Fiji since our return two days ago. A bird sits atop the mast merrily singing his morning song. Yellow sunbeams glisten on the water, dancing to the songbirds cheery melody. Cirrus clouds soak in the morning rays; hues of orange stretching across the sky in a hypnotic myst.
I love Fiji. Everything about it is sedative. Fiji is a place of serenity. Even in the mist of turmoil, something about Fiji breathes freshness into life.
We arrived two days ago, to a boat covered in dust (inside and out), a broken windless (damaged while the marina prepared WildCutter for tropical cyclone Pam), and a grumpy neighbor who doesn’t like the way the marina secured WindCutter to the tree because it blocks her path to the bathroom. Craig has come down with the food poisoning.
On a good note, Hurricane Pam passed Nadi with little more then high winds and no damage to the island. Our hearts break for those who were not so lucky and lost everything a few hundred miles from here. It is rumored two sailors lost their lives and one more is missing at sea. I am hopeful that in a few weeks we can help the people on islands who lost so much.
I am still not finished cleaning the boat. Yesterday, Ali, our ‘driver’, took us to town to negotiate laundry fees (all the bedding has to be washed). We stopped at the ‘Blue Lounge’ (a private club that is not so private, anyone can get in if you have money) Today, Ali will take me back to get the laundry, with a stop in town to visit the market. Although I came with a suitcase full of “provisions”, I am thinking of a dozen items I forgot and hope to find (Sees candy, and mocha for my coffee.. ah, just kidding!) If Craig isn’t better this morning (he’s still not up), we will make a trip to the town doctor. Poor man was up all night. We think it was the Ahi salad he ate at LAX airport.
WindCutter is anchor tied. That means, we dropped an anchor mid bay, and backed into our slip. Cyclone season officially ends in April. There is one more “low” that could form into a tropical storm but word has it if this one passes, all will be well again in Fiji (until next season).
This marina has dry (land) “pits” that are intended to store yachts during cyclone season, but we arrived too late to secure one. So, here we are, anchored in shallow water, stern tied to two Palm trees; and a grumpy neighbor who doesn’t like to lift her leg to step over the line. A ten foot red plank connects us to the shore, and requires perfect balance (especially when our arms are loaded with laundry, and groceries )but even more so if we stop at the marina bar for a cool drink. I have a dance background, so my balance is pretty good, but Craig has a record of falling in (but that was before the new hip)! FYI: Just kidding about the red plank; It’s really black but I was thinking of painting it red and hanging a pirate flag from it just for fun. But Craig says that might antagonize our new neighbor so maybe we should take “the higher road” and give her See’s candy when we find it ?
Pirate Craig, is doing much better these days with his new hip! He climbs on and off the boat with ease and hasn’t even wobbled on the plank! Recently, even with a stomach ache, he juggled two pillow cases full of laundry and a backpack full of food! Balance is everything in Fiji!
On day three, Craig rose from the dead and slowly started moving around. I finished cleaning the boat and since I could see he was still not feeling a hundred percent, I suggested we take a break, rent a car, and tour the island.
Nadi is a big island, so we decided to take two days to see it. We passed several remote villages with happy, smiling fujians. We drank from fresh coconuts sold along the side of the road and marveled at the tropical glory. Craig was craving fresh mango, and relentlessly eyed numerous fruit stands to find one. After several hours, we finally spotted a young man who had one mango in his roadside booth. As we searched for our Fajian change, we realized we were out, having only large bills left! Craig started to drive away, then suddenly put the car in reverse and paid a generous fifty fijian dollars (that’s twenty five american dollars) for one very perfect, ripe mango! I think we made that man’s day! We jokingly named our mango, “Gold” and saved her for the hotel.
We stopped at a few hotels (we wanted one on a cliff with a view of the ocean) and settled for a beautiful hotel with individual villa’s off the beaten path. Our room sat on a cliff with a spectacular view of the ocean. A trail led to the beach which boasted a hammock which we relaxed on (well at least I did) while we contemplated which water sport we would like to engage in. I decided paddle boarding or kite surfing was a must in the morning! We patted ourselves on the back for finding such a beautiful hideout and ended the evening with a fantastic meal served while watching Fajian dancers share their culture.
But like everything else in this blog, the silver lining has a tint of black in it. Sometime during the night, I woke up with excruciating stomach cramps. It seems Craig’s food poisoning was NOT food poisoning but the flu! I’ve only had the stomach flu a few times in my life and I can tell you this was one of the worse cases I’ve ever had. Thankful we were NOT on the boat, I spent the night in the bathroom, mostly sleeping on the cool, tile floor because it felt good (go figure). The next day, I wasn’t better but at least I could stay on the bed and had a grand view! A curious gecko clung to the wall and kept me company! Since I couldn’t move much, Craig booked another night (oh darn!)and I slept 24 hours with an occasional glance at an incredible view! I finally sent Craig away, “Go play, now that you gave me the flu” but he came back every few hours bringing me cold drinks and offerings of food (at that point I was never eating again) He met a French couple next door that took pity on me (did they ‘hear’ my upchucking?) They sent over meds that I think helped keep the fluids down! I love the French!
By the end of day three (Easter in Fiji), I was ready to go!
By now, we were late turning in the rental car so we drove the rest of the island quickly missing the orchid gardens, the land of the giant waterfalls and several awesome beaches. Oh well, as the locals will tell you, “When in paradise, you must be flexible!” They call it “Fiji time” which means you don’t have to be anywhere or do anything in a timely manner. I like it.
The rest of our trip was uneventful. We visited with other cruisers, studied maps and moved the line that was blocking our neighbor’s path. We planned our itinerary and are ready to sail once cyclone Season is over (end of the month). There are over 300 islands here in Fiji! We hope to visit many of them!
Hopefully, my next blog will be more about tropical bliss than tropical miss!
Either way, I can’t think of a better place to be sick at. Even when I was feeling my worst, I was feeling grateful! Who gets to do this? It’s all part of the adventure. In life, you don’t get a free pass on sickness, not even in paradise. So, stay tuned! Who knows what the future will bring? It may be bliss, or a “blah miss”, but it will be embraced…to the fullest!
Until next time,