15 Hours in Paradise Part 1

the rich side

“15 hours!?” I didn’t mean to yell but sometimes that’s just the way it comes out. Linzay had patiently and methodically researched 90% of our return to the Northern hemisphere, including a tropical 14 hour lay over in Nadi, Fiji. Being the travel pragmatist (read:pessimist) that I am, my mind naturally jumped to being trapped under a mountain of luggage in a sweltering concrete airport. A deep breath and a little more research and I found out that it is possible to escape the airport and actually explore.

Being a common international stopover, I also found the arm chair internet was full of negativity regarding the Fiji “paradise”. Some people even going as far as to suggest just staying in the airport, paying “outrageous food prices”, and generally sulking because “the main island” is so terribly rundown and so on and so forth. It all followed with literary critiques of the beach and misery regarding their lost “paradise”. It is a comedy that seems to be repeated in every corner of the globe but it seems most evident on the pedestal of tropical islands. All of this amounted to even better reasons to pack as much as we could into our 15 hours.

6am: Fresh off  the plane. It felt like we hadn’t slept in days. I ran to the bathroom and filled up my water bottle. Almost instinctively, I proceeded to suck the water down like a water pump trying to save a sinking ship. It wasn’t until the 500ml mark on my bottle that I realized the mistake I was making.

With trepidation I asked “Ummmm, is the water cool to drink here?”

“I wouldn’t do it. Nooooo way.” Said the aussie frequent flyer.

Damn. I thought. Rookie traveling move. I beat myself up, this could be a really long 15 hours. As a precaution, I smashed a couple of anti diuretics. Without water, which is horrible by the way. We checked the only snowboard bags in the country for $10 and ventured out into the early morning.

8am: Taxi $7. Local bus $1. The only foreigners, we rode with the school kids who shot us big smiles as they jostled on board. We spent the morning getting lost on gravel roads adorned with beautiful flowers and stray dogs. Eventually finding our way a market dominated with Kava root and old man hustlers, who wanted us to visit their friends shops.

11am: I had a solid sweat going. Shade was useless. We drank bottled Fiji water, which I found both surprising and a little ironic. Linzay does this thing where she visits police station in every country we visit and collects a patch. This is the main station in the capitol city.

Police station-the "other" side

Around mid day, I lose all sense of time. We decide we’ve had enough of the main city and head to the wealth of the foreign ghetto.

Ring the string tied to a bell-Next stop Port Denaru.

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