The Conversation With My Kids That Justified This Year of Travel

It was nice to see an 8 year old conclude that there might be more to life and happiness than your next iTunes purchase.

Bula!!! Hello! What’s your name? How are you?

Fiji is paradise, but you can find crystal blue waters and balmy beaches in a lot of places. What makes Fiji special is not the warmth of the sun, but the warmth of the people- friendly, laid back, incredible people.

Lennox, one of the boat drivers, plunked the kids on the nose of his boat and then hopped up there to chat with them, driving with his feet. Obviously friendship trumps safety in this country!

Fijians seem to take so much pride in their culture and who they are. Not once was I approached for money, or did it feel like someone was trying to scam us (we've been warned we'll be baby turtles in a shark tank once we get to South East Asia).

It was quite the opposite here –everywhere we turned someone wasn't trying to steal our bags, they were trying to carry them for us. (And that's quite a feat since, as year-long travelers, we have 6 gazillion things hanging off us at any given time.)

We just came from Samoa where, with the exception of that magical place Lalamano – which I wrote about in my last post, people were either: 

  • indifferent

  • hostile (kicking and punching our car)

  • laughing at us

  • trying to charge us money for driving or walking down a road they claimed they owned.

(It was a little unnerving at first. I chalk it up to them simply not knowing what to do with foreign visitors. But after a while the utter indifference kind of grew on me.)

BULA! BULA! BULA! Butit was refreshing stepping onto the Fijian islands.  Fiji is designed for tourism and visitors…almost to a fault. It is set up so that most people won’t ever leave the beach of their beautiful island resort.  In order to see the real Fiji, you actually have to seek it out.

An outdoor dinner at Octopus Resort on Waya Island.

The kids and I went to see where these great people actually come from. We visited a village and school. The four of us even took in a church service one blazing hot Sunday morning.

No laughing I didn’t have proper church clothes— which means something that went down to my ankles—  so the Fijian women lent me some traditional clothes. I don’t think I quite managed to pull off this look! Thoughts?

 ME:                 What did you think of the village?

ISLA:               Kava is GROSS! I am never drinking THAT again!

We participated in a kava ceremony in order to be welcomed into the village and to be able to freely go into the school, homes and church. Kava doesn’t taste great; but on the plus side, if you drink enough of it late at night with the locals, you start to feel pretty damn good!

ME:Tell me one thing you learned in the village?

OSKAR:None of the houses have doors or if they do they are always wide open.


ISLA:Because they’re friendly here!

OSKAR:And everyone is always welcome into everyone else’s house.

ME:How come we don’t keep our doors open in Canada?

ISLA:It’s way too cold!

OSKAR:And everyone would steal our stuff. Like we have a Wii and TV and iPads and things. You can’t just leave your door wide open.

ISLA:Yeah, they just had beds and those big woven mats in their house.

ME:So what do you make of all this?

OSKAR:I guess in Fiji they’d rather have people in their house instead of a whole bunch of stuff.

It was nice to see an 8 year old conclude that there might be more to life and happiness than your next iTunes purchase.

I’m not going to presume that the people are so warm and friendly because they don’t seem to be consumer-driven. But, we saw they are really community-oriented villages. People were calling us into their very basic homes from the doorway; I loved it.

Fiji has stellar people, values, beaches, and, of course, kava.

Farewell Fiji. We will definitely be back!