Warning... this blog may be primarily me being very excited about sea cucumbers!
15.10.2007 - 19.10.2007
Well, it's my birthday today!! Yay! Spending it on a lovely little beach in Sydney isn't too bad at all!
But, back to Fiji....
I'm not sure how to decribe Fiji to actually do it justice. A sea cat takes passangers from the mainland out to the islands stopping at each one and offloading people and their bags onto little boats to take them onto the beach. The view actually made me cry. It's just utter peace, and about as close to paradise as a girl on my budget can get. The sun is warm, the ocean clear blue and inviting in its vastness. The colours are richer, sounds of birds, waves, wind through the leaves and the odd boat motor in the background. Oh, and the Fijian drum which calls us for meals!
The first few days, we stayed on a slightly bigger island in the Yasawas, the more Northern collection of islands. We stayed a dorm of about 24 people (hence my comment on paradise on a budget! Next time I go there, i intend to do it in style!) The resort was pretty well equipped though, the meals were regular and very appetising, although at first i was apprehensive about the "flushless toilet" affectionately termed the "Long Drop" I soon realised that it is actually a very hygenic way of dealing with it. How typical of me to talk about the toilets when describing a pacific island! My favourite time of day was first thing in the morning. I woke up around 6:30 am most days and went down to the beach with my book and ipod and dozed on a hammock till they called breakfast at 8am. No one else was ever around except the odd Fijian who stopped for a chat. They really are lovely people, relaxed, friendly and more than happy for us to be there. As it is now coming into their rainy season, we did have rain most nights but it cleared up everyday and was refreshing rather than miserable. The lightning storms at night were amazing to watch across the ocean.
On day 3 I was persuaded to do and introductory dive by the Reef Safari instructor, Dean. I was really nervous before going because I had tried snorkelling the day before and didn't like it at all. I wrongly assumed it'd be the same thing. Dean was excellent, he acted as if it was the most natural thing in the world and made sure I was comfortable with the breathing apparatus before I even got near the water. Once under the surface, it is another world. It is peaceful and serene and feels strangely, utterly safe. The fish are happily gliding around being all colourful and natural in their habitat. I did flinch slightly when I saw a shark and a stingray but they didn't seem to care I was there. The little clown fish and fat pink seastars made me smile and I was particularly captivated by the sea cucumbers! They are like draft excluders, fat, squishy and soft and happy to be picked up, well, i don't know if they were happy exactly but they didn't seem to mind too much. My dive lasted for about 45 minutes and admittedly I did hold on for the entire time but I knew by the time I surfaced that I was hooked.
The next day, however, we transferred to another island which is so small you can walk all the way around it in 2.5 minutes! It was my favourite island of the two. When we got there at around 5:30pm, I was introduced to the Reef Safari reps there, Matt and Fordy, and by 6:30 I had started my dive certification course! Doing the skills section in the dark was more of a challenge and a lot of the skills go against natural instincts but once I realised that it was unlikely that Matt would let me die, I got a bit more confident. The next 2 days were pretty intense really, the course is meant to last 5 days but I really only had one full day and till 9am the next which meant fitting in 5 dives with all the prerequisite requirements plus the written work and the exam at the end (I passed with 92%!) I have to say I was a bit exhausted and the last dive at 7am on the last day required me to jump off a boat without any gear and get into it while on my own in the ocean. I was actually so scared I nearly cried, but again, once I'd got over it and got down under the surface, I was totally fine. I'm not sure if you can tell but I am really excited about this new diving experience, I haven't stopped talking about it since!
Unfortunately, I ended up with a slight ear infection now so can't dive again till it clears up. I will be so upset if it hasn't by the time I reach the Great Barrier Reef!
I am finding that once I move onto my next destination, I actually miss the place I left. Not so much with LA, but San Fransisco, Vegas and Fiji I actually do miss. It's interesting, to feel a part of somewhere so far from where I call home and to take something from being in each place and even, possibly, leave something behind.