Archives: World Narratives

Breaking Up 2009: Day 17

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Traditional Fiji is all about formalities, paperwork, and figurative curtseys. Sitting next to the Turaga ni Koro (village spokesman) one rainy afternoon, he invited us to come to the youth break-up party on Friday evening. The official invite came one hour later in the hands of one of his children. On a sheet of college-ruled […]

Wai Wai Everywhere: Day 16

Garrett filling balloons

The aftermath of Cyclone Mick kept the skies gray and misty for the following three days. Nearby villages sent word of their damages; Nakavika was one of the luckier communities, thanks to their relocation. For decades, Nakavika sat in a nook of a river bend, level with the mighty Luva, until the mid 1950s when […]

Mick Chicken: Day 14

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Peeling the rain shell off my pruning body, I layered on socks, pants, shirts and hats, using every available clothing item in my bag, and walked outside to watch Cyclone Mick blow by. [This is a continuation of Bracing for the Cyclone: Day 13] Garrett and I, both equipped with our arsenal of cameras, sat atop […]

Bracing for the Cyclone: Day 13

Tea time during a hurricane

Various news publications reported Cyclone Mick as a battering, vicious storm, causing a lot of devastation to Viti Levu in December of 2009. BBC showed disheartening video footage of the aftermath. Al-Jazeera accentuated the death count. The Telegraph wove together an anthropomorphic description of Mick using beastly adjectives galore. All of these articles were factual, […]

The Final Shower

Ready to finally rest

There aren’t many things I regularly do on a trip. I don’t always buy keychains or t-shirts to mark a new country or experience, and I’m hardly a superstitious person, with an arsenal of therapeutic exercises at the ready before each plane, train or automobile ride. I don’t send postcards from every city, nor do […]

My Fijian Calling: Rugby

Gare working the rugby ball

This post is written by Garrett Russell. I think I might have found my Fijian calling: Rugby. Nakavika is a village that has earned the reputation of being a Namosi Highlands rugby powerhouse. With one player currently on the Fiji national team, the blood for the sport runs deep within everyone. Every evening before dinner […]

Witnessing the Termination of Babe: Day 8

Pig on fire

Seven children and youth members of the village crowded around Garrett’s computer as he narrated his life in another world. “This is my friend Amanda…And this is the snow I ski down every winter. We get lots of snow like this…” I dozed off nearby on my bed as each head fought for viewing space […]

Getting Comfortable in the Highlands: Day 7

Coming back from the river

Lemon leaf in the morning: tea that surpasses all other attempts to comfort the soul. There’s no better way to begin a new phase of life in Fiji. We awoke from our personal bedroom slumbers to a Fijian breakfast, sitting Indian style around a tablecloth near the kitchen. With all the logistics configured with the […]

The Acceptance of the Nakavika Project: Day 6

Talking to Abel about the carrier inland

It was 9pm in the Fijian highlands. The glow of candles and fluorescent lights shone through the windows and spaces between woven walls. Kamikaze frogs darted in and out of our path as Garrett, Abel and I lugged our huge bags toward Fane’s house where half the village men and children were waiting, TV ablaze […]

The Long Road to the Village: Day 4

My spot on the ground

Flying westward across the Pacific is an unsettling travel experience for a couple reasons – the main ones being deadly, cobalt waters that threaten a future stranded on an island with a friend named Wilson and the time travel that occurs with simply flying over one degree of latitude. We left LAX at 11:30pm on […]

The First Steps into Fiji: Day 3

Landing in Fiji

A blending of India’s food and occasional putrid odors, Uganda’s smoking fires and Hawaii’s humid sweetness, spices and diesel exhaust, dust and flowers, fresh air infused with very specific whiffs of soap and oils – I can’t explain Fiji’s air any better than this. I wriggled in anticipation for Garrett’s first smells of the island. […]

Hey, Ireland, Nice Craic! Day 75

The white horses of Ireland

“Nice craic” Why, thank you! This phrase took me some time to understand. This wasn’t a severely misspelled compliment towards my derriere but a charming little catch phrase about good times in Ireland. Having a blast at a pub, cheers-ing to good friends, good Guinness, and swaying to the pipe of a Irish folk musician? […]

Where are all the Dubliners? Day 70

Ireland's Coast

Some Irishmen say Dublin is not a city that reflects the true Irish mentality. “I’ve lived there for years before, but it’s never been a home to me,” said one of the Irish ladies I met on the internship. It’s definitely got its touristy areas that overcharge and manufacture “authenticity,” and these areas can become […]

Wild and Sexy Scotland: Day 68

Loch the shape of Scotland

We bolted for the Highlands. There was no stopping us. The bright yellow tour bus resembled the Coors Light Silver Bullet Train in my mind as it streamed like a beast across very green and steadily growing hills. When there was a need to stretch the legs, we stopped in a town that brings to […]

Deep Scottish Love: Day 67


I owe my desire to romp in the Scottish Highlands to one Mr. Bear Grylls. Watching him parachute into the rolling terrain and crunch through icy grass got me all sorts of giddy to do those things myself. So when I heard we were darting around the Highlands via bus tour during Scotland’s best weather […]

Free Nessie! Day 66

Free Nessie!

Would you take me seriously if I told you I believe in Nessie, the Loch Ness monster? Crazy thing is I actually think I do. At least the old sailor on our boat trip made it very easy to imagine such a creature existed below us in those deep and murky waters of Scotland. A […]

Edinburgh Charms: Day 65

Lurking around Edinburgh

Stepping outside after dropping my dirty and travel-worn bags, I noticed the cobblestones, the old building fronts, the charm that draws you in immediately without the need for double decker bus tours or guided walks following a man holding a yellow umbrella. Edinburgh is a city that makes you yearn not to be a tourist. […]

Sick as a Donkey: Day 61

That'll do, Donkey.

Holy mackerel, Mykonos ripped my body apart and threw it to the seagulls. With every passing minute on the ferry, my head swirled against the motions of the waves and filled with pain. My cough was extreme. I went through three toilet rolls blowing my nose dry. And it’s so sad, when your body becomes […]

The Reason for Red Bull: Day 59

A whole lotta hedonism going on here

The word “Mykonos” causes some people to involuntarily pump their fist and bite their lip with anticipation, knee jerk reactions to the thoughts of staying up until brunch time having cocktails while dancing on flashing platforms in your weekend best. My grandma body sighed at the sound of “Mykonos” knowing fully well it could not […]

An Island I Can Handle: Day 57

Windy Paros

Weee! A beach! A warm beach! Without jellyfish, sharks, or boiling outdoor temperatures! The Greek islands were calling me while I was still preparing for the trip in America. Every island the ferry passed was a tease until we finally slowed and reversed into the port for Paros. Oh, sweet breezes and salty air! We […]

Clicking with Athens: Day 53

Anything seems inspiring in Athens

I love Italy; therefore, I always thought I’d love Greece. It’s easy to lump them together as Southern Europe/Mediterranean countries and call them similar cultures since they both claim responsibility for civilization as we know it. Ah, but driving into Athens, observing the surrounding barren hills, passing by the various eateries, hearing a language so […]

South Africa made easy with the Garden Route

Keeps getting prettier along the way

Africa is like a really big trail map. Cairo to Cape Town. Malaga to Douala. Nairobi to Victoria Falls. Tour companies and travelers alike have realized that those who make it to Africa are there to spend some time and see a good lot of incredible sights. You won’t meet many people who travel to […]

Plummeting towards Earth: Day 51

The Moment of DIsbelief

Adrenalin junkies. Sometimes it seems like its a requirement to be heavily inked, fully pierced, leather-skinned, and a big fan of phrases like “that was so sick”, “unreal, man”, and “aw, dude, I’ve heard about that jump –it looks so ill!” These guys and gals flock to freefalls, half pipes, and semi-dangerous situations around the […]

Cage Diving with Sharks, Recommended: Day 48


About six weeks prior, I had trouble jumping off a 12 meter cliff into beautiful teal waters. I danced nervously atop a rocky precipice and looked to the skies to counteract the damage done from staring at the water below. But for some reason, I had absolutely no trouble throwing a lead weight around my […]

Stay classy, Stellenbosch: Day 47

Drinking wine Xhosa face paint

Wine Tasting: a classy concept that seems to inspire smarter ensembles, a listening ear, a more discernible palate than one actually has. I’ve gone wine tasting three times in my life. The first time was in Napa Valley after Semester at Sea. I was in culture shock and missing my new friends, so I got […]

Hiking up and Giggling Down Table Mountain: Day 46

Hiking Table's Slopes

I didn’t know where Table Mountain was (nor that it existed) until I pulled up to Cape Town harbor and saw her silhouette. That first sight of her was the kind that solidifies a mystical attachment and constant amazement that becomes evident in random dreams days and years later. And since that first sighting I’ve […]

The East African Safari Experience: Day 36-42

Crap the, the Trunk

You’ve just flown thousands of miles across massive oceans and expanses of land. You’ve had too many airport transfers to bother remembering. Those weren’t cheap tickets or easy transit days. But you came to relive those deeply rooted Lion King fantasies from your childhood and by golly you’ll do anything to make those happen!

Take my Taxes and Bribes but not my Smiles: Day 35

I made a friend while lounging at the hotel pool, Samuel, who comes from Kenya and beams with helpful information for the interested tourist. Since I feel like I’m cheating or lazy to only hang out at my hotel when abroad, I used his knowledge to develop a safe plan to see the city. Good […]

The Sauna that is Dubai: Day 30-33

The dunes surrounding Dubai

I’ll be honest. The only time I’d subject myself again to a natural, sauna-like environment with sky-high prices and buildings and a soul burning sun would be on a really…really long layover. Though I absolutely love the airlines flying around the Gulf (and so much of these cultures is fantastic), I just don’t see myself […]

Why it will be a while for India: Day 28/29

Indian man at the temple

Imagine an alternate universe that’s accessible by easy flight. A Mars or Twilight Zone with roaming holy cows, instant disease upon the consumption of food, toilets seemingly nonexistent, and pimped out buses roaming the streets. And imagine this place has so much of great appeal: colors, spices, drinks, music, dancing, people, animals, mountains, beaches, and […]

Sunrise over Marble: Day 27

Alone at Last

The following came to my mind while viewing her in splendid beauty. And by her I mean the Taj Mahal. “From a brutal sun, she grabs the softest light and increases her elegance as more is revealed. Detail. Elaborate. Pristine. Smooth. The grandeur. The scale. All reflections point to a love harbored by one man […]

What is Fatehpur Sikri? Day 26

How they do this with marble I'll never know

Akbar’s capital city and home in the 1500s. An incredibly well-preserved complex of structures created in the Mughal style of architecture. A pretty far out place in rural India. So many centuries-old monuments are dilapidated and crumbling representations of their formerly grand selves. Sadly, pillaging and the wearing effect of time get the best of […]

Step in the Name of Water: Day 25

Super Cool Step Well

There are many perks to being in India during the off-season, a.k.a. the blistering heat of summertime. I walked into some nicer, yet empty restaurants and mentioned the items on the menu looked quite expensive. This usually got me at least at 20% discount because they needed the business. However, the heat is inescapable and […]

Bollywood’s Kal Kisne Dekha: A Quality Laugh

Best Worst Bollywood Movie Ever

Nihal was a simple boy, bright and charismatic. He moved to Mumbai to go to his dream college and befriend the sweet women who liked him dearly and charm the spoiled ones who didn’t. He pulled some Matrix moves on the bad boys in school (who fittingly wore leather jackets and rode motorbikes) then saved […]

Great Wall + Indiana Jones Movie Set = Amber Fort: Day 24

A Gorgeous View from Amber Fort

Outside of an intriguing city called Jaipur sits a massive sprawl of buildings that seldom leave people unimpressed. We approached the area and got out on the side of the road to take distance shots of the entire panorama. Brushing off the hats that hawkers placed on our heads for purchase, we clicked the crusting […]

Movin’ On from Delhi: Day 23

City Palace in Jaipur

So much about Delhi intrigues me. The spice markets and the grand monuments. The tree lined roads and innumerable modes of transportation. I have friends in Delhi and enough knowledge of certain neighborhoods to make me feel somewhat comfortable with this harsh environment. I can’t say I enjoy the street side groping (by any stretch […]

Feeling Balmy and Looking Skyward: Day 22

Chowing at the Sikh Temple

The extent of my knowledge on Sikhism stops at the turbans. That’s pretty sad, which is why putting on a headscarf, washing my feet, and walking up the steps to Bangla Sahib, the Sikh temple in Delhi, was an experience I happily embraced. Red, beautifully woven rugs covered the marble floor completely, and we slinked […]

Independent Travel vs. Tour Group: Day 21

The Jackpot of Tour Groups

The age-old debate: should we call our own shots or pay someone to do it for us. It all depends on how you value your own physical, mental, emotional exhaustion and how things like this affect your appreciation of a destination. Last year, I traveled across Northern India alone, at time spending only $20 bucks […]

India, Shock with Awe: Day 20


The last time I left India, just eight months ago, I related the effect the country had on me to a scruffy, irritating, acidic kiss from which I recoiled…and then later longed for. As the horns screamed around our taxi from the airport, I turned to Chris and said, “Home Sweet Home.” He nodded. This […]

Red Rock, Roadkill, and Rough Transit: Days 18/19

The Lost City amidst King's Canyon

Our penultimate Oz experience was nothing short of a red rock smorgasbord. King’s Canyon had a steep start and a smooth finish as we hiked around this fault line in the Earth’s oldest crust. Nature and rock are gorgeous themselves, but for some reason, we felt it necessary to complement the experience with our own […]

Morning Ponderings at Kata Tjuta: Day 17

KT in the OZ

My favorite time of day is without a doubt the pre-dawn hour. Observing a blackened sky that slowly rotates toward the sun gives me the feeling that I can watch the Earth move. And the colors of light in the pure atmosphere, refracting off lush mist, bring to mind Monet paintings, along with others who […]

Rocks, Man…Rocks: Day 16

Air Clink, Rocky!

After coming off a trip all about connections with people, I will admit I found it hard to enthusiastically jump on board a tour of rocks. What used to be one of the most remote locations on planet Earth, Alice Springs in Australia, was an easy plane ride for us into the dry interior. And […]

Oz is Scary, Dorothy Agrees: Day 15

Leapin' Lizards!

Even though I’ve hiked through Yeti country and bush camped in East Africa among wild buffalo and hyenas, never have I been so afraid to walk around a country as I was when I got to Australia. This place could hard core kill ya. What a statement to encourage tourism in Oz! But really, I […]

That’s a Big Ol’ Island: Day 14

Rainy Sydney

Chris said it right. Our descent into Sydney revealed a coastline that seemingly never ended. This is the country/continent I’ve been reading up on for the last month, and never have I been so scared of a country’s wildlife than I have coming into Australia. And after being all over East and Central Africa, I […]

At the Office: Days 12/13

At The Office

And then the real work began. After over a week of so many people catering to our needs of creating stories and footage, we had to hunker down in our hotel room and make some game plans for production. It was sad how long it took us to learn that we had a Fijian power […]

Back to Sugar City: Day 11

Driving by First Sunrise in Fiji

At 4am, I arose to pack my bags over a sleeping six year-old. At 5am, I pulled my bags onto the billiard table and waiting for the call to the carrier. At 6:30am the mosquitoes claimed victory over my right leg as we crawled up into the carrier, which would take all the volunteers and […]

Last Day with Second Families: Day 10

Daro Danisi

Our final day in the Fijian village had quite a build up. I must have answered the question “What day are you leaving Fiji and the village” about twenty times during my entire stay, unsure as to why they were so anxious to know my departure date. I believe they were just gearing themselves up […]

What Little Work and Plentiful Play: Day 9

The Headmaster's Son

Being a “volunteer” in this village of Nakavika seemed to barely have the connotation that any work would be done by you. Given we came on the weekend and had to do no labor, I assumed Monday would crack down on our fun time with some blood, sweat and backaches in the farm. Ah, but […]

Cookin’ Old School Fijian Style

Cookin' with Bamboo

It was my great pleasure to witness the incredible hospitality of the people in the Namosi Highlands of Fiji. Not only did they make sure we were properly fed and watered at all time of day, but they made every aspect of their village culture into a lesson learned by us sponge-like backpackers on a […]

Bamboo Bear Grylls: Day 8

Bamboo Raft Construction Site

Bui and I could only appreciate a few games of “Last Card” before one bite of breakfast had her running for school Monday morning. I took my books and journals to a mat on the patio for a little writing when Abel joined me for a quick lounge and giggle. The important thing to note […]