South Pacific

The First Hour of 2010 in the World: Day 35

Aside from decapitation and/or childbirth sans-Epideral, I'm guessing nothing hurts as badly as putting aloe vera on freshly exposed burned skin. I nearly passed out from a woozy rush after an invigorating shower than revealed to me I hadn't just crisped one layer of skin but many. Regardless, I threw on some make-up for the first time in a month and joined Garrett at the bar to commence our celebration of a new decade in the first time zone of the world.


It being Fiji, a place that brings out the friendly in most everyone, we soon joined a group of tourists from Europe who were circumnavigating Viti Levu with the Fiji Experience bus. We met Queenie, an employee of The Uprising whose job it was to entertain tour groups, and latched onto some other friends with whom we could relate our travel highs and woes. Dinner got lost in a sea of beers and traditional Fijian songs before the live band got started by the beach, playing Bob Marley to Black Eyed Peas.

New Year's and No Ball

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The moon rose higher, revealing its complete circumference and eerie glow, and the band announced its last song of 2010. They called the five minute warning, played a two minute song, and started counting from ten. The arbitrary count down had me laughing until fireworks exploded from the beach.

We were among the first bunch of world citizens to see the second zero melt from our annual status.

It seemed only proper to mark this remarkable occasion with an act of stupidity, so we stripped down to our underwear and jumped into the Pacific Ocean, which is regularly filled with unhappy creatures ready to snap or sting. Thankfully, the only sting I experienced was when the salt water hit my bright pink skin.

It felt like one of those movie moments, a baptism of sorts.

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We made drinks disappear, and Garrett twirled fire-tipped sticks until he nearly singed the label off his jeans. It was the first New Year's I didn't spend watching Dick Clark sprinkle one ton of confetti on Times Square. It was a night I enjoyed presently and knew for sure I would cherish from the future.

Dragging Our Feet

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The next morning marked one week away from the village. It seemed about time to return and commence with Phase 2 of The Nakavika Project, one that reflected the observed needs and wants of the village. During our quick layover in Suva before heading to The Uprising, we stopped by a wholesale bookstore to purchase some additional supplies for our classes and the youth library we wanted to create.

Our bodies were slowly returning to normal, and our longing to see the kids set in. If only we could drag ourselves away from the excellent food we found in town at The Water's Edge and toward more weeks of sleeping on the wooden floor. Adventure vs. luxury...we were pulled on both sides.

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Looking back in hindsight, it was at this point that we felt most optimistic about our project and its potential for success (in our terms). With loaded lists of supplies to complement our honorable budget and new ideas to satiate the emerging desires of the villagers to learn, it felt as though we were transporting an extra school three hours inland.

We knew our intentions would be appreciated, and the 45 days that stretched ahead of us held an enormous amount of potential for reasonable and universally acknowledged change.

Now if only we could pull ourselves away from the Coral Coast.

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Tracking Down Our Host

We booked three more nights in comfort and called Fane to inform her, for the first time since we parted, we were in Pacific Harbour on our way soon to Nakavika. She showed no signs of wanting to be there soon after us. Family time in Vanua Levu was treating her well.

Garrett and I earned the designation of "Man and Woman of the Household" and gained the responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, and functioning in a patriarchal society, which we planned to rebel against a wee bit. Packing up two weeks worth of peanut butter and lentils, we met the carrier at the base of the junction and enjoyed the best ride of the trip, one which involved a happy hour/century club feel and immediate camaraderie with the other few passengers.

We returned to a different atmosphere, what would soon become our most thrilling, proud, action-packed portion of the trip. Though, had we known what was ahead of us, I wonder if we would have returned.

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Have any questions thus far about vacationing on Viti Levu or about certain aspects of Fijian culture? We certainly have a lot to say on all topics Fiji-related. Leave a comment, and be sure to share this with your friends and readers!

Video of the Week: Nakavika Project Outtakes

Garrett and I met while traveling, which is why we share that close vaga-bond that provides plenty of laughs. Check out some of the outtakes from our 2.5 months in the South Pacific.

Note on Nomadderwhere's May Schedule: Now that you know my big news for June, I've got some catching up to do with my postings, if I want to stay current with my documentation while abroad. Though this video marks the end of the Fiji footage, I still have a lot to cover from our experience. Expect to see many written posts, many more than usual, in the coming weeks!

Where are we in this story?

On the carrier floor

On the carrier floor

Since I embarked on December 1st to develop The Nakavika Project, I've been quite inconsistent with my written postings, even though they've all published as frequently as expected. For those of you waiting to hear so much that we've left uncovered, I've got some 'splaining to do. Starting off with action inspired by Chris Guillebeau's ebook, I moved on to recount the experiences of our first steps in Fiji. Getting up to Nakavika was a full day adventure that ended poetically, while the next days involved village logistics and the acceptance of our mission.

Once we were established in the Highlands, we started getting comfortable, going swimming daily with the kids, watching shocking swine slaughterings, assimilating with our demographic, and becoming members of our host family and community. Within one week of traveling to the interior, Garrett and I journeyed back down to Suva for an internet run and returned one day later to a cyclone experience neither of us will ever let mentally slip away.

But I let my writings slip from that moment on.

Watching Mick

Watching Mick

I lost track of writing as the cyclone threatened our water source and made showering, drinking water, cooking food, washing clothes and even swimming more difficult and time-consuming. The road washed away at Namando, making it difficult for the diesel to reach Nakavika and power the generator that juiced my laptop's empty battery. Our housing situation became sticky and riddled with unknowns and inconveniences. We planned our escape to recuperate from multiple bacterial infections.

And I let my excuses eat away at my writing muse.

Instead of catching up with an explanation of our trip to Suva and Cyclone Mick, I jumped around to speaking Fijian and matters of global citizenship. I discussed the scattered happenings of our project classes with not only the kids but the youth and adults as well.

So what's the plan?

Chronology be damned, I'm going to tell you the whole scoop eventually, excluding the dirty details, which are for us to know and you to ponder about endlessly. Starting this Friday, I'll fill you in on the occurrences of my mini-vacation in Fiji prior to flying home on Valentine's Day - then I'll tap into the stories of my inland adventure.



After officially leaving the village on the 1st of February and parting ways with homeward bound Garrett and Jackie, I spent some time in a coastal village outside Suva, chatted with Madventurer contact Kimbo, and took a steady, pleasant ride through the Mamanucas to the Yasawa islands. Here at Wayalailai Ecohaven, I am turning my brain off to recover from two months in a different world.

After detailing these lovely happenings, I'll return to the stories of yore…Cyclone Mick, Christmas in the village, our holiday time off and so on. By the end of these tales, you'll know more about Fijian culture and mindsets than you ever wanted to.

And finally, the status of The Nakavika Project - TNP is going underground for a few weeks to undergo some serious plastic surgery. The seemingly obvious flow of progress changed and professed a need for reevaluation. Garrett and I will be working on TNP for the next month or so, crafting it into the most successful project it has the ability of being. As could have been anticipated, our expectations were somewhat off from the project's predestination.

So prepare yourself for many more weeks of tales, starting with the most recent and then whipping back in time like Tarantino. Weekly videos will continue chronologically, somewhat, with the same level of hilarity and other-worldliness.

Please continue to comment as these are the sharpeners to my writing and blogging blade.

Journeys of a Lifetime in October


I welcome you to a new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Every month I will pick out a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).

Across Water

Yangtze River Trip to the The Three Gorges: A trip in early fall through some incredible, mountanous landscapes could coincide with October 3rd and the Chinese Harvest Moon Festival.

The Mangoky River: Madagascar's baobabs and the "slowly-slowly" mentality of the land give me two reasons to desire floating in an inflatable raft across the tip of the big island. October is the last month of reasonable weather before the ghastly heat sets in.

By Road

The Fall in Vermont: Does my longing to going on a fall foliage drive make me an old lady? Either way, I don't care if it means I get to log miles around a beautiful chunk of America and potentially camp out in the cool nights between drives.

The Dolomites: Northeastern Italy gets great weather and less tourists than usual in October, which is perfect if one desires to see sky-splintering peaks, Alpine pastures, and still speak l'Italiano all the live-long day.

By Rail

The Reunification Express: After reading Catfish and Mandala, making the 1,000 mile jaunt across Vietnam seems like a trip worthy of filling numerous journals and marking off loads of "once-in-a-lifetime" experiences from the list. This train would make this trip possible, that is if you're not a crazy/cool cyclist relying on your two wheels.

Trans-Siberian Railroad: Fall colors, warm days, and cool nights - that's quite a list of benefits for traveling from Moscow to Beijing in October via a world famous train ride. The trip takes one week

On Foot

Greenwich Village: True, this area can be enjoyed any time of year, but the crispy atmosphere of fall makes pleasant a couple days of perusing galleries, visiting Edward Hopper's house, and eating at former speakeasies, like Chumley's. Maybe you'll get inspired to "keep moving" while taking in Figaro Cafe, a hang-out of the "beat generation".

The Inca Trail: Dry weather meets the hearty soul that wants to trek through the thin air of the Andes in October. Machu Picchu, Huayna Picchu, and loads of misty sights are calling you...

In Search of Culture

Treasures of Jordan: October is just as great a time as any to hire a car in Amman and hit up some ancient relics of the past in the Middle East. Fancy yourself an Indiana Jones as you bound around the ruddy sandstone of the Treasury of Petra.

India's Golden Triangle: I can attest to the fact that going on this trip in the heat of summer is just plain mean to your boiling spirits, but alas, the relief that comes in October! Agra's Taj Mahal at sunrise, Jaipur's Amber Fort and Rajasthani culture, and Delhi's urban jungle are real experiences to be photographed, reflected upon, and absorbed into the mind forever. Read my blogs from the Golden Triangle here.

In Gourmet Heaven

Bourbon Trail: Another prime opportunity to see good fall color while sipping some classic American spirits. Even though we Hoosiers are supposed to make fun of Kentucky, I've always been a fan of the horse farms and Appalacian foothill country, and I'd imagine pumping some whiskey into the equation wouldn't hurt it!

Central Valley Wine: Go from fall to spring, harvest to planting season, with a trip to Chile for some grape guzzling. The Andes are supposedly visible from every vineyard in this region, which has a unique climate sure to cause some exciting fermentation to occur. Go skiing, walk along the beach, and then go find some good wine in the hills.

Into the Action

Polar Bears in Canada: October marks the start of a great bear-watching season annually, and Churchill is known for their outsized bears. Not as elusive as the tiger, but apparently just as easily camouflaged into their surroundings; a couple days looking for polar bears sound like thrilling days well spent.

Sea Kayaking off Baja: I know I'm going to be taking full advantage of being around Baja in October by partaking in a gorgeous and exciting activity: sea kayaking. Rocky cliffs edging an ample marine world in the blue Pacific waters; it's the stuff of dreams. Check back for upcoming blogs on this very activity.

Up and Away

Flying High in Paradise: Take a heli for a spin (don't worry, you're not driving) around the volcanic islands of Hawai'i, where you'll be dumbfounded by how green and undulating the converging ridges appear. Great weather and better prices will please you in October. I've experienced this flight and loved it.

Fly the Coral Route: Tahiti, Rarotonga, Samoa, Fiji, Auckland, Dreamland - it sounds like purging your wallet for an aerial island-hopping experience in the South Pacific couldn't disappoint if it tried. And with October providing some drier conditions, you'll be able to see the blue silk in 360 degrees around you.

In Their Footsteps

On The Road after Kerouac: Though my opinion on Kerouac's instant classic novel is still unformed, I can't deny the pulsing urge inside me to hop in a car and take I-80 as far as it will take me. Maybe that makes his work a success in that it instills the desire to move for the sake of moving. From New York to San Francisco, such a road trip would be quite a thrill to take while reading the novel and hitting up Denver and Chicago along the way, not to mention the great weather October would bring across the entire stretch.

The Silk Road: Avoid the extreme weather conditions by traveling in October through western China to Turkey and some of the world's oldest inhabited cities. The spanning cultures are sensory-linked with landscapes that could slap a yak with amazement.

How's that brain? Spinning with innumerable desires to traverse continents and climates? Pull out a pen and prioritize your life by putting one or more of these trips at the top of the list. And by planning a year in advance, you'll be quite able to save, prepare, and anticipate the rigors of your adventure in every way. Check back in November for the Journeys of a Lifetime you could partake in next year!

As this is a new series, I'd love to hear your feedback on the effectiveness of this concept. Leave a comment and be my new friend.