After the earthquake in Chile, Fiji was on high alert for a tsunami. I wanted to document the preparations at the island of Waya Lailai in case of disaster. Luckily, nothing happened.
Paradise or tourist trap? Rustic sanctuary or stuck in the past? We asked visitors and natives what Fiji means to them. The answers were diverse and sometimes surprising.
We were seduced by Fiji’s music the moment we first heard it: rich harmonies, soulful singing, simple melodies.
Here’s an interview with musicians from the White Sandy Beach Lodge in Fiji’s Naviti Island.
Lulu, our host at the Nabua Lodge “resort” at Fiji’s Yasawa islands, was telling us we’re part of his family. All seven of us at the dinner table, including the German girls and guy and the Norwegian dudes. His family grows every day when new guests arrive at this backpacker haven, one of dozens of beachside hostels where the dorms sleep 12 and electricity exists for five hours a day.
When it’s checkout time, his family shrinks again.
We had just shared a meal of fried fish, green beans, carrots and potatoes over a bed of ramen. “Now we teach you three Fiji dances.”
It’s not often that good business comes disguised as a scam. It’s usually the other way around. Hucksters excel at social engineering. They are trust hackers who hot-wire the impulse to trust that is baked into human DNA.
The travel agents who tried to sell us an island-hopping package at Fiji’s international airport were doing everything right: the smiles and warm, welcoming attitudes. They seemed curious about who we are. They took their time to explain us the options that suited our budgets.
It took 24 hours for us to leave Vancouver and arrive in Fiji, which meant a total of two sleep-deprived nights. Add to that a quasi-ripoff at an airport travel agency and a 21-hour time zone difference.
It was a shock to the system, one that made my first steps on Fiji’s ivory sands seem unreal. My body had arrived at one of the most spectacular tropical paradises it ever set foot on. But my head was still in a cloud of fatigue and confusion.
But, little by little, harmony prevailed.