The birth of The Nakavika Project, part 1

One moment I was reading and reviewing travel narratives, inquiring tweeters about road trips and the next moment, I had tickets booked. Where did this new trip come from, and how did Garrett and I develop The Nakavika Project out of thin air?

The Lingering Possibility

Already missing Fiji on the outbound flight
Already missing Fiji on the outbound flight

Since I left the village in Fiji on June 13th, I've been pining to go back. I couldn't enjoy Australia, the destination after Fiji, because I missed that connection to the people. India hit my senses with its usual harshness, which was multiplied by the comparison in my mind to Fiji's beautiful highlands. I told the village I wanted to come back, and I made a promise to myself this was a destination I needed to revisit.

It's like reading the first three chapters of a good book and losing your copy, the only copy ever made...then dissecting every used bookstore to find and finish the story. Not only do I have a desire to return to the people, but there's a transformation within myself I need to witness, which can only occur in this wee community two hours from any other "town."

After declaring my desire to return, I had many friends tell me, "I'll come back with you!" One of these people was Garrett, a very good friend and one of very the few people I can travel with for long periods of time. The seed was planted. Would we ever water this idea and let it develop into an actual adventure?

Sleeping on the job
Sleeping on the job

The Need for Change

A season comes and goes. Garrett was working as an arborist by day and server at Applebee's by night, while I was spending full days in front of a computer screen and sustaining myself on sporadic driving assignments for my brother's dealership.

I found myself victim to the TBS Office marathons on Tuesdays, the program line-up on Thursdays, the constant Seinfeld reruns and the ease of waking up at 11am. I was a bum, and Garrett was feeling his life was absent of real challenges.

Lindsay: "Garrett, how would you feel about a road trip. We could hit up NYC on New Year's Eve for our SAS voyage reunion and then drive from there in your Kia across 'Merica!"
Garrett: "Wow, that sounds fantastic. Let's figure out a budget for this and get on the planning!"

Road Trip 2010

Why: You are about to go to East Africa for 27 months. I need to get out there and live a little.

Budget: In order for this trip to make sense on our meager budgets, we need to:

  1. Do a lot of camping and couchsurfing/stay with friends along the way.
  2. Spend less time in the cold and more time in the south and west

300 miles = $30 - 40 in gas Daily food costs = $10 - 20 Accommodations = $0 - 40 per night Daily costs (internet, admissions, tolls, parking, etc.) = $40 Joint costs per week = roughly $250 ($125 each)

I really had no idea how to budget for a trip I've never taken. It was looking like a nickel-and-dime trip, the kind that causes an obsession with saving money to the detriment of the destinations and experiences to be had. It was not the optimal choice.

Authentic Fiji
Authentic Fiji

The Tipping Point

Why did Fiji come back into the picture? A flight deal. After checking out Air Pacific for the umpteenth time, planning for a hypothetical trip plan I thought could never happen, I called Garrett on Monday morning (November 2nd) with a complete backflip in travel plans.

L: "I found an amazing flight deal I want to look further into. If the price is right, would you consider dropping the road trip idea and heading to Fiji to live in a village? We could do our own thing there, use our skills to start some effort from scratch, and I know we're already invited and welcome to be there. I talked to them a week ago."
G: "Wow, Linz, you're turnin' the tables on me! This could be such a huge opportunity. Let me think it over..."

(30 minutes later)

G: "I am completely, 100% behind this idea. I just need to sell my car and let my roommates know!"
L: "I'll get a hold of my contacts..."

We ran the ideas past our parents, not so much to seek approval but in order to have help weighing options. Noting my grandmother's expected health issues with her cancer treatment, we decided to change our departure time from December 29th to December 1st, getting out of here much sooner than expected, so our returns would coincide with a time I really needed to be home.

36 hours after the idea emerged, Garrett and I simultaneously pressed the "Submit" button - credit card information given, dates chosen, smiles on faces.

Both: "I can't believe we're doing this."

Check out Part 2 of The Birth of The Nakavika Project, when we speak with our contacts, develop our objectives, and begin looking for sponsors.