This ad began to be aired in New Zealand last year (always during winter, I wonder why?), and since then Felipe and I, who usually do not give much attention to television, stopped everything we were doing and started dreaming. The thing was so hypnotic that the next morning one of us would wake up singing the song. The next day the other would, and so continued until the ad was on tv again to restart the cycle. Congratulations to the advertising agency, I wonder how many awards they’ve won?
When we went to Samoa in 2008 we spent a lot of time renting a car, driving, trying to find a beach that we could wear a bikini, looking for waves, etc.. On such a short trip, only one week, it was not worth it. So this time we were more practical and for the first time in the history of this blog we did it all through an agency. We had been looking at the Island Holidays’ site for a long time and closed the deal for the package to Fiji via email. The goal was to de-stress and do not need to worry about anything.
My paradise is tropical
A week in Fiji worked for me as a natural healing spa. Not that I did naturotherapy, massage or anything similar (although they had it all there!), but simply spending 8 days there made me come back feeling like another person – lighter, happier and some even said I was tanned and glowing – I say that I am actually back to my normal winter colour, because before it was more like a normal ghost colour.
The transformation process began as soon as they informed in the plane “Local time in Fiji 6pm, temperature 27 degrees.” I took my sweater off (after all it was suddenly so hot, inside the airplane) – “Hello arms! Long time no see.” When we got off at the airport in Nadi and I felt the hot air, I could not stop smiling. It was dusk and it wasn’t cold! I could hardly believe it.
It’s all so strange for a backpacker
The two backpackers here, who would never book anything in advance, found the stewardship of buying a package with everything pre-arranged a bit strange. We had a folder with all the vouchers and instructions on where to go and how to get there. “At the airport, find the Raffles Gateway Hotel representative”. A van came and went picking people up, they didn’t even let us carry our own luggage! And then we discovered that the hotel was half a block from the airport. On a “normal” trip we would have walked, carrying all the stuff.
Speaking of stuff, for the ones who say that women can not do small bags, I must tell you that all my luggage did not exceed half of those small suitcases (half of it, 50%). I also had a tiny backpack, which was empty, to put the woollen clothes once we got there, and the camera. Felipe, however, took the other half of the suitcase, a surfboard, a kiteboard, 2 kites and a lot of other things that go with them. And yes, normally we would have walked carrying it all.
As we arrived at evening, we spent the first night in this hotel near the airport, which was very good. It’s not at any beach but has a swimming pool. The food’s delicious, both dinner and breakfast. I think we had only stayed in such a chic hotel room in our wedding night (see, there were even towels!).
At 9am a bus, with air conditioning (!), took us to Port Denarau, where the catamaran departs to Malolo Lailai – the island that we would be for the next 7 days. Actually there were two buses and a van that took the surfboards. The number of families and children doing the exact same route as us scared us (the woman from the agency had not told us that this was a good time because it was before the school holidays?). It was like a summer camp, help! We started to regret a little bit for not paying twice to stay in Tavarua, but we didn’t.
Plantation Island, the resort that we stayed, really is focused on families, something we did not know until we got here. It is also, if not the most, one of the most popular resorts of the Mamanucas. It’s huge, with 192 rooms, 3 swimming pools, golf course, rugby, soccer, tennis, beach volleyball, mini golf, plus a bunch of other things – including a beauty salon and spa. There is the “coconut club” for the kids which is full of activities day and night, and even babysitters for the little ones (as Mirella said: “It is good to know that there is Fiji after children” heheh). There were activities for adults too. Needless to say that there were towels in the room as well… that were changed daily. Yes, I took my own towel, just in case, you know I’m not accustomed to such things.
And what was the first thing I did upon arriving on the island? Put my feet in the water, of course! Just to make sure it was a good idea to leave my wetsuit back in Wellington. As it is winter, the water was not hot like a soup, as it was in Samoa in early fall, what I found even better.
Our life in Malolo Lailai
Although overcrowded, we quickly learned how to dribble the kids and enjoy the resort and in the end we thought it was a great choice. It had everything we wanted and more, just there, real easy, we simply needed to pick one and use. We did not use any of those that I mentioned up there, we are half human half fish, our business is with water. The guy who took care of the water sports called us by our names and even spoke a few words in Portuguese.
Our days were usually this: we had breakfast early, around 7am, and were amongst the first to arrive.
Then Felipe joined the other surfers on the boat to Cloudbreak while I went to the beach, to sunbathe, walk and swim – my favourite sport is swimming, and in that transparent sea, seeing the coral reef, colourful fish and blue starfish all the time, I could spend hours there.
Lunch was usually a salad at the cafè by the beach.
After lunch we took the tiny catamaran from the resort and went out sailing. Fe, who already knows something about wind and sails because of the kite, quickly learnt how to sail and we went as far as we could every day. He even gave me some lessons one day, I think it’s important to learn and want to learn more, but I confess that I prefer to be just enjoying the ride to be captain of the boat.
On the way back we took a kayak and we paddled to the other side of the island, or if there was enough wind, it was kitesurfing time. On the first day we found out that the beach on the other side of the island, theeeere after the golf course, got much more windy. It was a bright white sand beach and, because it was further and had absolutely no structure, no one went there. P-e-r-f-e-c-t.
In the evenings there was always the spectacle of the setting sun and after a bath (with brackish water from the shower), we left the restaurant at the resort for the kids to run while we dined at Ananda’s, which was at the other end of the beach, had delicious food (I’m a seafood fan) and a priceless little band that between one song and another had some kava, very relaxed.
The next day it began all over again, including the pool, reading, meditation, drinks and hammock-under-the-coconut-tree in between. All this, of course, smeared with sunscreen and insect repellent. The guy who invented the repellent should be canonized, by the way.
Every day we spent there was sunny with blue skies, it rained only for 15 minutes just one evening during a wedding. The bride must have eaten a lot of cake dough from the bowl, just like me.*
*There is a Brazilian superstition that when a woman eats cake dough, before baking it, it rains on her wedding day.
Water sports deserve a separate post, written by Felipe. I myself just swam, paddled the kayak, sailed a little and took a lot of pictures of him surfing, kitesurfing, wakeboarding… whew.
Of course as soon as we got back we were already planning the next one, if not for any other reason, at least for for my physical, mental and spiritual health. It’s amazing what a difference a week in a place like this can make in someone’s life.
Ah! And the post title. It is not my invention, this is what they say over there when you want to know what time is something: “Bula! Fiji time. No hurry, no worries”. What could be better?