And we commence 2 weeks of high-school humor infected fun. According to my calculations, Adam’s plane departed Nadi 15 minutes ago. He has 24 hours of travel to look forward to, and though it’s a daunting number I’d say it’s probably worth it.

For those of you that don’t know, Adam is one of my longtime friends from Oregon. Though we both attended college in Colorado, our schedules lacked room for any substantial bonding time. This was to make up for those lost years, and that it did. Two weeks in a foreign country sharing stinky towels and violent bus rides could probably bring everyone a little closer.

I helped him regain his strength, spending a number of days in a beach side backpackers hostel Nadi, getting sunburnt, exploring the city, and eating the spiciest curry known to man. Notable was a run in with a local souvenir wheeler-dealer, who coaxed us into the back room of his shop to “experience the traditional act of kava-drinking.” Though it was good for Adam to taste the stuff and see how a ceremony was performed, it was a bit hokey and after politely declining his offer to carve our names in a hand-whittled sword, he got a bit hostile and we had to say moce pretty quick. We also enjoyed the musical stylings of Bill and the Beach Bros (although, only one ‘bro’ was present) , which lead to a long-winded, Weird Al reminiscent parody session by us, replacing all important lyrics with those regarding Bill’s awesomely gigantic beard (example: Brown Eyed Girl turned into Bill’s White Beard, etc.) You might have had to be there. We also poached a few other hotel’s “traditional demonstrations,” which ended in me volunteering for a generally awkward and inappropriate dance, a spectacle for tourists and their hosts alike. Adam, like usual, laughed from a distance. What are friends for?

We headed back to Suva just in time for Diwali. Michael from THE OFFICE refers to this as the “Hindu Halloween,” but it’s more like an all night candy-eating fest filled with fireworks and good company in celebration of light. We attended a few parties with Ronna, clad in our traditional Indian steeze. By the end of night, we were stuffed to the brim with all kinds of Indian sweets. And the leftovers were abundant. One of my favorites, mostly because of the name, is the barfie, which tastes exactly the opposite of how it sounds. Think cookie/brownie with sprinkles on top.

In need for some good ol’ nature loving, we hopped on a bus and rode outside of town to Cooli-o-suva, a nature park our guidebooks boasted. This hike was a hidden treasure, full of ponds, streams, waterfalls, and spider webs. Aside from the inhabitants of the latter, I’m pretty sure we had the place to ourselves. It’s a beautiful place a look forward visiting again. Thanks lonelyplanet travel book!

This week, Jackie Fa’asisilia and the SIT: Samoa group were in town. This was something I had been looking forward to for almost 2 years, since I participated on the same study abroad program. Jackie, the academic director/mother/jokster/gerenal great lady of the program invited me out to dinner with the students, fresh from the fale and taro they’d grown accustomed to in Samoa. It was great hearing all of their stories and telling them mine, and it was really interesting the rate at which things are changing in the seemingly simple and carefree country. The next night we enjoyed another evening catching up and storytelling. I feel lucky to have been able to spend so much time with such an important lady. Most striking was a development in her romance department… a woman of 61, giddy and giggly about a man she knew 40 years previous, before her move to Samoa, before she gained and lost a husband, before she created a family and a life on a tiny Pacific island. Her excitement was intoxicating—I don’t think either of us knew that such a crush was possible. But it is, and she is proof. Faith is restored in the fates of humanity.

Friday was Halloween, and also Ronna’s birthday, which we celebrated the American way- costumes, candy, and all. After gorging on birthday cake and sangria, we hit Traps for some dancing (SCARY as it was). Adam learned the joys of taki, and also learned the joy of bad music that has infected Fiji like the plague.

The next few days we spent at Mango Bay, a little secluded place on Fiji’s Coral Coast. We did the traditional tourist things- kayaked, snorkeled, drank overpriced beers, watched the sunset, did and egg toss, got sunburned, and freaked out about the prospects of sharks in the water (well, this last one was just me—we were paddling out in our kayaks and saw a jaws-worthy fin glide from the water. Never had I exerted such force getting back to shore…).

The last leg of the journey was on Bounty Island, in the Mamanuca group of islands of the western part of the island. We were greeted by a warm and friendly staff, who we grew to appreciate over the next 4 days. We met Nate, a Vancouver-ite who supplied me with good conversation and the latest Snowboarder Magazine (I drank it in quickly and repeatedly). We evaded as many bug bites as possible, went to bed early, and dominated all the other guests in a dance contest. Go Pacific Northwesterners! Apart from relaxing, tanning, and singing, we spent our days on the quest for our Open Water Scuba Certification. With Brett, the perfect Australian-burnt-out-sun-bleached-slow-moving stereotype as our guide, we explored the underwater world that existed just off the island. We passed the course, and with 6 dives under our belt, we got to see countless underwater creatures that would put the cast of Finding Nemo to shame. My favorite was the ominous barracuda who stared fiercely at us as we floated by. It never moved from it’s surveillance point, but this 4 foot fish scared the bubbles right out of me.

With Adam all aboard and headed east, it’s time for me to get back to work! I’m excited, as I’ll be continuing some fun projects as well as starting some new, “extreme” sites. I’ll keep you posted on the development!


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