Fijian Fraternization

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Today we woke up sore all over after using every muscle in our bodies to survive the Fijian mountain trek. Note to self: a few workout videos with five pound weights each week does not adequately prepare you for holding up your body weight for hours on end as you crab crawl down a mountain. I knew I should have learned to do a damn push up. I just don’t understand how they are even possible. Seriously. I’m expected to out-push gravity just to keep a little side boob at bay? Fuck that.

If anything good came of that hike, other than my super cute mountain selfies before I started crying, it was that we actually slept in. Until 8am at least. That’s big for us. The plan for today was to have a leisurely breakfast and then head out for a snorkel tour at an area known for manta rays. And luckily for us, September is Manta Ray season in Fiji. They have seen rays every day the past few weeks so it’s basically a guaranteed sighting, right? Wrong. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The resort calls this tour “Island Safari”. However, we all learned yesterday that transparent and forth right activity descriptions aren’t this resort’s strong suit. The “safari” was more of a “fishing boat ride to see some coral”. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, I’m just saying be straight with me. First, we grabbed some snorkel gear and hopped into a boat to make our way to the snorkel location. It was a bumpy ride against the current as we sat on the floor of the boat and winced in pain as we pounded harshly against the ocean. Once we arrived the bay, the name of which I can’t tell you because we were given no introduction or instruction except “swim that way…”, we hopped out of the boat and swam around looking for manta rays. The coral was actually incredibly beautiful, some of the best I’ve seen. But let’s be honest, how long can you swim around looking at the same shit? Coral is coral. Fish are fish. I usually give it about ten minutes before I use my life jacket as a floaty diaper and crack a beer. Well, it pains me to tell you this, but WE HAD NO BEER. There is nothing I can say to explain this. It was an oversight. We dropped the ball. Our minds clouded by post hike exhaustion, we forgot. All of this is really no excuse for committing what I consider to be a cardinal sin – getting on a boat without booze. I know better. This isn’t me. I’m ashamed of my mistake and can only ask that you will forgive me, as I know I’ve let you all down.

So basically, we were bored. No manta rays. They just decided not to show up. Mother nature is a fickle creature who rarely bends to our whims. Or maybe the rays just didn’t want to hang out with a bunch of losers who went on a boat ride without beer. I woudn’t either. So after becoming intimately acquainted with the coral we jumped back in the boat and headed home. Lunch and a lazy afternoon of laying on the beach followed. Shortly before the dinner, we got a little rain which apparently the locals desperately needed. Remember when I asked to you to try to think of something better than an outdoor shower? Well I found one – taking an outdoor shower in the rain.

We headed to dinner that evening without having made a reservation for our own table. Our main waiter, Jeffery, must have had the afternoon off and we couldn’t find him to book one for us. Everyone else who works at the restaurant or bar is pretty fucking useless and it’s painful to even try with them, so we said fuck it. Communal eating for us tonight! As painful as dining with our fellow resort patrons often is, it makes for some fun fodder for blog. Tonight our table mates would also be our team for trivia night, so we sat at one of the long open tables in the main restaurant area with our feet in the sand and awaited our fate. A backpacker couple consisting of a German boy and a Swiss girl joined us first. Backpackers do not win trivia nights, they win drinking contests. Combine that with the fact that the boy spoke little English and I saw our chances for winning the champagne brunch slowly slip out of reach. Next to join us was a pair of women, one in her sixties and one in her thirties, who I had seen strolling around the resort like they owned the place. Annoying they may be, but they looked like they may have some Fijian knowledge under their belts, and so my hopes crept back up. Until they opened their mouths and I realized they were both completely full of shit. The older woman, Wendy, was an eccentric loud mouth who fancied herself some sort of a Fijian Mother Teresa. Wendy owns a house in Nadi, on the main Fiji island, and owns a private charity to support Fijian children, about a dozen of whom are apparently named after her. Wendy is best friends with every single person who works at that resort. If she needs more toilet paper, she is on a first name basis with the janitor. If she needs a drink, she asks the bartender how is family is first. The younger girl, who’s name I can’t remember, is along for the ride with crazy Wendy, having worked for her for a few years in Wendy’s shop. She is 36 years old and more boy crazy than a sixteen year old girl without a curfew. She has a boyfriend back in Melbourne who she hates, while the “love of her life” ditched her for a job in Hollywood, and she is currently in a love triangle with two Fijian boys 10 years her junior who live on the island. These two take cultural immersion when traveling to new heights. But would it be enough for a win?

We tied in the Fijian knowledge round but lost the tie breaker in a dance-off to a group of unoriginal swingers whose team name was “fifty shades of grey”. How can you compete with a group of fifty somethings grinding on each other? We then took a dive in the general knowledge round…did you know that -40 degrees farenheit = -40 degrees celsius? I’m still trying to figure that one out. We had a chance to come back in the last round which consisted of chugging a soda, eating a horribly dry cracker called a “wheat bix” and whistling a tune. Once we swaped out the coke for a diet Steph volunteered, as she is the only one at our table who drinks soda and has actually eaten a “wheat bix” before. She killed it in the chugging portion, but we failed to factor in the fact that she can’t actually whistle. Mainly because what she thinks is whistling is actually her blowing air softly like a unicorn whisperer. We retreated back to our room in defeat. I almost lost sleep until I realized I could just buy a damn bottle of champagne at breakfast and pretend I won.

Steph getting wild at trivia night
Steph getting wild at trivia night

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

It rained through most of the night and we awoke to clouds. We had breakfast and a bottle of champagne (ha!) as we checked out and waited for our ferry to the next island, Nacula, home of the Blue Lagoon Beach Resort (“BLBR”). Upon boarding the ferry, Jorgie and I bought some magnums (the ice cream, not the condoms) and settled in for our three hour journey north.

We arrived at the BLBR and were transferred from the ferry to a smaller boat along with our new resort mates for the short trip to shore. Joining us at the new resort is no one too notable, save for a few. One young, hot blonde thing who appears to be from the U.S. that I’m trying to talk the girls into hitting on like a Fijian Mrs. Robinson. And then there are our personal favorites, the group of four Chinese girls on their very own friendmoon. The Sailor Moon Mafia hopped on the transfer boat already barfing into bags. Woof. Sailor Moon herself was decked out in a shorts pantsuit with a furry bag and heels with pearls on then. Perfect outfit for a trip between islands complete with a fucking beach landing. They then headed to lunch where they ordered one of everything (touché) and spent the afternoon falling off an inflatable swam. The girls and I downed a few bottles of wine at dinner and came up with a great little jingle about the Hello Kitty Crew, to be sung to the tune of “Apple bottom jeans”:

Pear bottom heels
Purse with the fuuuuur
The whole boat was looking at huuuuur
She hit the sand (she hit the sand)
Next thing you know
Guccis got low, low, low, low, low

Stripped pant suit shorts
And barfing with the bag (with the bag)
They went to lunch and gave that a la carte a slap
They hit the beach (they hit the beach)
Next thing ya know
Selfies on a flamingo, oooo, oooo, ooo

Hello Kitty's Pearl Studded Heels
Hello Kitty’s Pearl Studded Heels

We aren’t quitting our day jobs just yet but it was funny as hell last night.
Back to the day. We arrive at the BLBR, checked into our villa complete with outdoor shower, and had lunch. The cloudy afternoon was a welcome break from the heat and we spent it lounging around floating on our rafts. Dinner was a relaxed and forgettable affair, probably because I made a point to reserve us a private table every night for the rest of our stay. Last night’s foray into inter-resort socialization was enough for one week.

I’ll leave you all with a pic of a few sluts at our resort in thongs. By sluts” I obviously just mean “chicks who are hotter than us”. This is primarily for Tyler, because I failed to get him a picture of the hot lesbians. Hopefully this makes up for it.

Thongs
Thongs

Fijian Ninja Warrior Traning Camp

Monday, September 26, 2016

Up bright and early, once again, to get some breakfast before our 8am “Island Hike”. Little did we know that our leisurely trip to the omelette bar this morning would be fuel for an 85 degree version of the Mt. Everest base camp trek. Close your eyes for a second and tell me what you picture when you hear the phrase “Island Hike”. Did you see a leisurely stroll around some beaches, stopping at lookout points here and there, perhaps strolling through a Fijian village to learn a bit about their way of life? Yeah, me too. Now wipe that from your brain and I’ll tell you how this shit actually went down. Replace that leisurely stroll in your mind with a death march up a forested mountain at a average incline of at least 65 degrees the entire way in the blistering heat, where the only thing scarier than climbing up is the terrifying thought of how the fuck you are going to get down. Swap out those stretches of white sandy beaches in your mind with the occasionally climb up a vertical wall of volcanic rocks, sans harness. Substitute those lookout points with the occasional four square feet of flat surface that you and eight others would crowd onto to catch your breath and a drink water that has been naturally heated by the sun. Proxy that Fijian village with a lone Fijian guide in flip flops who responds to your cries of pain with phrases of encouragement like “we all have to die sometime”. Then top all of this off by the fact that we paid for this. And I don’t just mean with money. We paid with blood (in Steph’s case), sweat, and tears. In sore muscles and bruised egos. I expect this kind of shit from the Kiwis, but not from you, Fiji. I thought you were different. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me fill you in on the details…

The unknowing victims of this “three hour” tour all gathered near the bar that morning feeling already victorious just for signing up and getting out of bed. There were the three of us, horribly ill prepared with nothing but some water bottles and my jammy pack. We were joined by a Canadian couple decked out in Lulu Lemon with camel backs in tow and determination in their eyes, an older gentleman who might be the dumbest out of all of us because he had done this awful hike before, a 20-something ginger boy with a shit eating grin on his face, an overweight British girl who, like us, had no fucking clue what she was in for, and rounding out the group with an even bigger girl with serious mouth breathing issues and serious social interaction limitations. Half our group was capable of this hike and other other half (including myself) ended up on a Biggest Loser death march they had no business being on.

The hike began innocently enough, out of the resort and over a small hill to the neighboring village where we walked along the beach for a short period. At this point I was still under the naive impression that the most dangerous part of this hike would be the mouth breather taking me down with her in a fall. Getting trapped in a mid-hike conversation with her was equally as frightening. After passing the village from the beach we made a sharp right into the woods. And this is about the point at which my life turned into an episode of Survivor: Fiji. From here on out it was a vertical hike straight up the side of a fucking mountain. The communication was a bit lacking, so I was not actually aware that the plan was to scale the side of a fucking cliff onto a rugged peak until we were about half way up and began to inquire when we would start heading back down. I should have stopped then and there when the guide pointed to the top of the mountain, but I honestly thought he had to be joking. As we kept trudging up, dripping sweat and cursing profanities, I began to slowly realize that (1) the joke was on me, and (2) I might actually die on this mountain. I knew I would hate it, coming down even more than going up, and I would whine and moan the whole time (which I did), but there is just something about having a skinny bitch in lulu lemon in front of you and a fat ass panting for breath behind you that makes you think, shit, if these chicks can do it, so I can I. Next time, remind me to stop thinking and to just sit my ass in a beach chair.

There were several points when I did almost turn around, but instead of listening to my gut, I let my hike mates cheer me on with false hope. “Come on! you can do it!” I could do a lot of things…I could do intravenous drugs for fun, for example. I could also strangle the mouth breather, or throw my guide off the side of a cliff. But could does not equate to should, and this is what I failed to realized in each of these moments. Once we hit the vertical rock wall I lost my shit. This was as close to one of those ninja warrior obstacles as I have ever come.  I’m pretty sure I told my guide to go fuck himself about forty different ways while he feigned a language barrier, but Steph assured me I could do it and so I once again continued to throw all logic off the cliff and continued on. The guide put Steph’s and my water bottles in his backpack so that we could use both of our hands for the necessary rock climbing. The ginger, who had taken a liking to our fair skinned Jorgie, did the same for her. We reached what I thought was the top, as there was no way to go any higher without a very high likelihood of life threatening injury, yet the guide began to continue upward onto a sheer rock font on the tippy top of the mountain. At this point I had reached my negligence limit. So I sat my unhappy ass down and told the group I would be listening to music and taking selfies until they were done with their pissing contest. My dick is plenty big and I have zero interest in proving it to this group of Gilligan’s Island rejects by risking my life to say I went another 20 feet higher. Yeah, I was pissed. But more than anything, I was terrified of how the fuck I was going to to get my uncoordinated ass down this mountain in time for lunch.

The way down was about forty billion times worse than the way up. We spent most of it on our butt’s or squatting and sliding down dirt paths too steep to navigate upright. It took twice as long and was twice as hot. We all ate shit at one point or another, bruised our asses, scrapped and skinned every part of our hands and legs and lost our fucking minds. Jorgie carried on ahead of Steph and I with the old guy, the lulu lemon twins and Ginge in front of them. Steph and I cried our way back down at least half an hour later. The chubsters were at least a good hour behind even us, since the guide got bored with them an literally left them on the mountain. Once again, my endless quest for mediocrity is successful. Steph and I fought back tears for most of it. I did actually cry just a little bit once I saw the beach and could be certain that my life would continue after this hike from hell. The guide followed behind Steph and I for a while I yelled at him incessantly. He asked us if we had signed the waiver, reminded us that if we die it’s no skin off the resort’s back…besides we all have to die at some point anyway. He thought he was hilarious and we were pathetic, but he caught me from falling about twelve times so I let him live.

I know you are all are thinking that I am being dramatic, but I assure you I am not. I am, however, utterly appalled at the lack transparency this resort gives its patrons with this hike. Not only should we have been adequately prepared for what we were getting ourselves into, people should have to pass a navy seal training camp before getting on that fucking trail. If this is an “island hike” then the Trail of Tears was a “countryside hike” or the Orgeon Trail was a “cross country joyride”.

We returned back defeated and dejected. Nothing too notable happened the rest of the day because we were all shells of the women we once were. Jorgie and Steph got massages. I blogged and started a new book. We drank a few bottles of wine and went to dinner. And then finally bedtime (also known as 9pm) came and we crawled into our beds hoping it had just been a dream.

It’s a day later and still too soon to laugh. The best we can hope for is to try to drink our pain away, one Fiji Gold at a time. I wish I could say this was the first time this has happened to me. Sadly, my FOMO while traveling has gotten the better of me before, primarily when I hiked to Mordor a few years ago. Hopefully this time I’ve learned my lesson. But probably not.

Sidenote: I went back to the activities board and the hike is actually called “mountain peak hike”.  Not “island hike” and I originally claimed.  I think my subconscious made that up in an effort to pin as much blame as possible on someone else for his aggressive hike.  I guess you could say I was warned, but I still stand by my views in this blog, regardless of what what written on the chalk board.

On Cloud 9 in Fiji

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Another early night lead to an early morning. Steph and I were up at sunset once again and decided to take our run off the beach and around the island for a little exploring. We headed around the west side of the island to “Sunset Beach” which was completely deserted and perfect for a little beach run. We then hiked around to the south side of the island to check out the wedding chapel (unimpressive) and the honeymoon villas that are separated from the rest of the resort. After having seen every part of this resort and most of the island, I can say with absolute certainty that we were upgraded to the single best villa in the best location on the entire island. Sometimes having a boy’s name and being mistaken for a heterosexual couple prior to arrival really pays off in life.

Morning run on sunset beach
Morning run on sunset beach

To reward ourselves for an aggressive morning we decided to hit the buffet breakfast at the resort. It was shockingly mediocre and full of kids, so we won’t be making that mistake again. I still gorged myself because I have zero self control in any type of “all you can eat” situation. My inner fat kid combined with my Jewish need to get my money’s worth create quite the little buffet whore. After breakfast, we headed over to our favorite activity beach hut to confirm our trip to Cloud 9 that afternoon – more on that later. We spent the rest of the morning chilling in our villa and laying out on our deck. We popped our last bottle of champs around noon, as there was no way I was going to a floating bar in the middle of the ocean sober. We headed back to the beach hut and checked in for our boat trip. Having been to this rodeo before, we knew the boat would be showing up on Fiji time, so we settled in for some people watching on the beach while we waited. Remember the meek Asian couple taking the snorkeling lessons yesterday? Well apparently they are quick learners and decided to upgrade to a kayak today! They even brought along another uncoordinated couple to join them.  There was an Aussie couple who left their three young children, including a baby, with their Grandpa while they went joyriding around on some jet skis. A couple bucks an hour for babysitting, yet you choose to instead make your poor old dad juggle your brood of rugrats while he is on vacation? If I was Grandpa, that shit would be grounds for disinheritance.

China's gold medal kayak team
China’s gold medal kayak team

Our boat finally pulled up and we hopped on with two other girls, one of which was offensively fugly. I thought that perhaps there might even be some sort of facial deformity in play, in which case I should probably refrain from writing about her for karma’s sake, but Steph assured me that she was, in fact, just extremely unattractive. Plus, if I was really worried about Karma I probably should have thought about that 75 blogs ago. Luckily we were on the front of the boat and they sat in the back, because it was the kind of face you just can’t look away from if within your field of peripheral vision.

A swift 20 minute ride later, we were pulling up to Cloud 9, a floating bar in the middle of the ocean complete with an upper deck and a pizza oven. It was as if someone went inception on me and stalked my dreams and then made them a reality. A bar that is only accessible by boat automatically trumps all other bars. Period. End of story. We spent the next few hours guzzling vodka sodas while we lounged on one of the day beds. There were a few big groups of backpackers at the bar, probably spending the last of their dinner money for the next month on drinks. You can always tell they are backpackers because (1) they are shit faced, (2) they are hornier than a JV football team, and (3) they are young, but not enough to give them a free pass on (1) and (2). One of the backpacker girls started begging her group of random backpacker friends for money so that she could buy pot from one of the employees. A hilariously awkward situation ensued in which everyone in the group had to pretend to not have money. This girl was pretty much the antithesis of fiscal responsibility, so I hardly blame them. She did manage to find some money eventually, because about 10 minutes later I saw the deal go down. It’s hard to hide on a tiny floating bar.

We headed back to our resort just in time for happy hour at our villa. For dinner we headed to the Asian “Spa Cuisine” restaurant at the resort. It was pretty much the most awful meal of my life. Problem #1: Children running around screaming. Literally sprinting around people’s tables chasing each other and yelling at the top of their lungs in the middle of a restaurant while their parents leisurely sipped wine as if their children were not solely responsible for ruining the nights of tens of patrons. It’s not even the children’s fault at that point. The blame is entirely on the selfish, entitled, cheap parents who couldn’t be bothered to teach their children manners or at the very least organize a babysitter. Children are a direct reflection of their parents. So if you’re kid is an ass hole, look in the mirror. Problem #2: The waiter. The most awful service I have probably ever encountered in my life, including when I was in New Zealand. And trust me, that’s saying something, because Kiwis suck at service. We took it as a sign that it was time to leave the island. And leave we will, tomorrow.  Mana Island, its been fun.  Mana Island Resort, get your shit together (but thanks for the upgrade!).

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Jorgie gets to Fiji today! The plan is for Jorgie to land and transfer to the marina where she will get on a ferry, meanwhile, Steph and I will take a small boat to an island where we will then transfer to her ferry. Sounds easy enough, unless someone gets a case of “Fiji time” somewhere along the way and fucks the plan up. Steph and I dragged our shit down to the hostel, which is where we were taking our boat transfer from since it was about a third of the price as our resort. We then waited around for our boat “Captain” to get some fuel. I use the term “Captain” loosely here, as our boat was basically a glorified canoe with a motor. But it did the trick and we made it to Beachcomber island in time to meet the ferry. Just to give you some background, Beachcomber island is the notorious backpacker party island in Fiji. They even have a dorm room with sixty beds in it. Given Fiji’s proximity to Australia, I don’t think we can even fathom the amount of Chlamydia that gets passed around that barn of drunken backpackers. The best way I can describe it is if someone made Lord of the Flies into a porno. Thankfully, our stay on Beachcomber lasted all of 10 minutes. We boarded Beachcomber transfer boat to get to the ferry, at which point a Surly Fijian woman demanded we pay her $10 for the transfer since we were not guests on that island. I tried to argue, but seeing as how our only other option was to stay trapped on the island of disillusioned, drunken youth, she had our feet over the fire.

Ten dollars and ten minutes later the three musketeers where reunited on our way to Waya Island in the Yasawa group, arguably the most beautiful islands in all of Fiji. After a smooth hour and a half ride we pulled up to a huge island with striking green mountains and long stretches of white sand. The longest stretch of sand is home to Octopus Resort, which would be our home for the next few days. We disembarked and were stuffed onto tiny little boats to transfer to the island. We walked straight into paradise where we were greeted, handed welcome drinks, and directed to our beach hut. We decided to toast to our Fijian reunion with some duty free vodka in said welcome drinks. After settling in, it was time for lunch. The way Octopus resort works is basically like the most awesome summer camp you’ve ever been to. We sleep in what are essentially fancy cabins on the beach (with outdoor showers!), there is an activities board where you simply sign up for whatever strikes your fancy, and you eat all your meals in a central open-air dining hall with your feet in the sand. After lunch, we continued to hit the duty free vodka freely while we blew up our amazon prime pool rafts and settled in for a drunken day by the pool.

This is where shit gets a little awesomely weird. We quickly found ourselves surrounded by a few children who were splashing around in the pool. Normally this would be reason enough for an abrupt location change, however the vodka was coursing through my veins and I was feeling charitable. I took it upon myself to teach the children the rules of the pool that were taught to me so many years ago by my mother. Rule #1 – when adults are floating in a pool, stay the fuck out of their sun. Rule #2 – it is the responsibility of the children to keep the adults from overheating in the sun by periodically splashing them gently with water. To my shock and awe, the kids took to this little game of “splash the nice American ladies” amazingly well. Our favorite kid, a little Russian boy who we called “D-Money”, spent HOURS sitting on the edge of the pool spraying us with his water gun upon request. This, my friends, is why you have kids. So you can train them to make your life more enjoyable upon request. What do you do when you get a dog? You teach it to sit for its food, or course. Why should kids be any different? Yes, I just compared kids to dogs. I know, that’s really not a fair comparison. Sorry dogs, I swear I didn’t mean it.

By about 5pm we were good and sloshed. Hence why you got no blog yesterday. Frankly, I’m not terribly keen on writing this one while I stare at the beautiful beach in front of me, so I’ll make the rest quick. We napped, showered, went to dinner half asleep. It was uneventful and we were in bed around 8:30pm. Tomorrow we go on the HIKE FROM HELL. It might take a while until I can gain enough perspective to write about that hike from a place of humor. I’m currently exhibiting signs of PTSD and need to grab another beer.

We Fancy in Fiji

Friday, September 23, 2016

Today Steph and I woke up with the sun around 6am. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in a day when you go to bed at 8:30pm the night before. We have a lot of ground to cover so lets get started. We started off with a morning run on our beach while the sun came up, then a little workout on our deck. I’m obviously just patting myself on the back for working out day two of vacation, because I know you all don’t care. We then headed down to south beach to the backpackers for breakfast. It’s cheaper and there are no children, but it’s also a backpackers, so the surroundings leave a bit to be desired. You can’t always have it all. While we were waiting for our food, which was on Fiji time, I headed over to one of the watersport huts to look into tours. I had been stalking this place yesterday, but there was never anyone working there. So naturally I showed up at 8am when they were supposed to open today. And then again at 8:30am when they actually opened. This whole Fiji time thing is obviously going to take me a few days to get used to. For some reason we were feeling extra fancy today and decided to go with the most expensive tour we could get our hands on…the three hour jet ski tour. We booked the afternoon tour leaving at 1pm, so we still had a morning to kill. We took that opportunity to head to the pool and meet a few of our fellow resort guests. Okay, we didn’t actually talk to anyone so much as we just people watched and exercised swift and decisive judgements on everyone we saw:

First up are the lesbians. The hot lesbians. Like, really hot. Their existence is incredibly annoying because now that there are a pair of girls who actually make out with each other at the pool, Steph and I can no longer play the fake lesbian card to get free shit. They are totally cramping our style. Everyone knows there is only room for one set of lesbians at each resort. And they really go for it. They rub each other down, bob there heads up and down suggestively between each others legs in the pool, the whole nine. These are not shy lesbians. Every man at that adult’s pool was staring at them out of the corner of the eye hoping their wives wouldn’t notice. There aren’t sunglasses dark enough to hide that stare, boys. To add insult to injury, they are natural blondes. Now Steph and I are just the two friends who aren’t as hot as the lesbains and have brunette roots. But we do have something that they lesbians don’t – a mother fucking villa on the beach. A villa that we platonically share a king bed in because we were mistaken for Mr. & Mrs. Rory Boston when I made our reservation. Take that, hot lesbians!

There is an Aussie couple we checked in with who I’m pretty sure vacations here solely for the cheap day care. I’ve seen them around about four times now, yet I have not once seen the children that they checked in with. Well done, mates. But my award for most entertaining guests has to go to the Asian honeymooners who came to Fiji and took an “Introduction to snorkeling” class. Steph and I witnessed this shocking display of naiveté with our own eyes as we waited for our jet ski tour. Let me paint this picture for you. A young man and woman in full wet suits despite the 85 degree weather, holding hands as they slowly and shakily walk out into the water following their Fijian guide, like newborn deer out for their first stroll through the woods with mom. They are then instructed on how to put on a snorkeling mask. I’m not really sure what else an intro to snorkeling class entails after that – perhaps 10 minutes on how open your eyes, and another 10 of breathing exercises, followed by a detailed explanation of how to kick your feet? I’m also not entirely sure the couple knew how to swim before signing up for this high level nautical adventure of putting their faces in three foot deep water. I could have made more progress than these morons in my own bathtub.

Luckily for us, no one else signed up for our tour, so we ended up with a private three hour jet ski tour around the Mamanuca islands. If that ain’t fancy, I don’t know what is. It was like being upgraded all over again. Our guide showed up with the jet skis about 20 minutes late (fiji time), which he brought from a neighboring island. We asked him his name, and after a slight hesitation he said “Tom”. I think it’s pretty obvious that he just picks random white names on every tour so that the tourists don’t butcher his real Fijian name. Fair. We started off with Steph in the driver’s seat, because I hate driving. I much prefer to sit in the back and take pictures with my go pro. At this point, I came to a few interesting realizations: (1) while I’ve been on quite a few jet skis in my day, I’ve never actually driven one, and (2) I have never been on a jet ski sober. Ever. Typically when I ride jet skis I’m shit faced and I flag down random guys to give me a ride. Like I did in Miami. It’s one of my party tricks. So we are entering double virgin territory with this tour.

I’ve done a lot of fun tours in my life. I’ve swam in the Amazon river with pink dolphins, snowmobiled on a glacier in Iceland, ridden a camel to a Bedouin camp in the Sahara desert, canyonned through glow worm caves in New Zealand, just to name a few (if that seemed like travel bragging, it’s because it was). I do have a point. This jet ski tour was one of the most fun and memorable tours I have ever done in my life. The second we took off, I immediately knew this was some of the best money I had ever spent. Our first stop was Modriki island, where Tom Hanks filmed the movie “Castaway”. This is not to be mistaken with Castaway Island, which is nearby, but not where the move was filmed. [Side note: CBS just filed Survivor on the island we are staying on earlier this year. The crew stayed at our resort while filming.] We flew past one beautiful island after the next, all with beautiful hidden beaches and lush forests of palm trees. We pulled up to Modriki on our jet skis, jumped in to the crystal blue water and beached ourselves on the island. A photo shoot obviously ensued.

On our way to our next stop, I decide I would give this whole driving thing a try. If I’m being totally honest, I was not a fan. My fists were clenched around the handle bars so tight that my hands started cramping. My legs were clenched tighter than a schoolgirl in a brothel. I got better and more comfortable after a while, but I would still just prefer to sit in the back enjoying the scenery while someone drives me around. It’s funny, because in life my personality is very much that of a “driver”, yet when it comes to all modes of transportation, I very much prefer to be a passenger. I have no desire to sail a boat, I just want to drink drink beers while sunbathing on the top deck. I don’t want to learn to fly a plane, I just want to pop bottles of champagne in my private jet. And I certainly would prefer a beer bong on a party bus to absolutely any other form of road transportation that you can think of. I do enough metaphoric driving in my life. So just let me be the kid in the back seat and enjoy my jet ski tour. Luckily Steph loves driving, so that’s exactly what she did.

We passed by a few more islands. At one point we drove by a resort and both exclaimed to each other how nice it looked. Took us a full thirty seconds before we realized it was our own damn resort, and we were driving right by our villa. We headed out to a sandbar – little mound of sand sitting in the middle of the ocean. Completely empty, except for Steph and I. We grabbed our snorkels, jumped off the jet ski and swam up. Another photo shoot ensued for your viewing pleasure. I love using this blog to justify my vanity. We enjoyed our little slice of uninhabited heaven for a while until a boat of tourists packed in like sardines showed up. We left and let the sheep have the run of the sandbar, lest we actually rub elbows with those less fancy than ourselves. Snobby, I know. But Fiji has spoiled us.

After the sand bar, it was donut time on the jet ski. I felt like the Duke’s of Hazzard’s super fucking classy sisters. You never heard about them because they married rich and moved out of Hazzard. Then came to Fiji. On a few occasions our guide would look back at us and then slow down, to ask if we were ok. It took a while before I realized that every time I started taking jet ski selfies he thought I was flagging him down for help. He thought we were absurd.

We made it back to the resort and bid adieu to “Fiji Tom”. We immediately hit the bar – not for a drink – for ice. Happy Hour at the Villa, baby! Our villas has two bartenders who serve one thing – vodka sodas. And they serve it with a heavy hand. Toasting to a successful day #2, Steph and I downed vodka sodas on our deck as the sun set. And then we drank some in the dark. And then we were drunk. Drunkety drunk drunk. A “whoops, we probably shouldn’t have skipped lunch” kind of drunk. There is only one way to top off a fabulous, fancy day, and that is with a fabulous fancy dinner. We made reservations for the fancy restaurant that night and stumbled in with a bottle of duty-free wine in hand. The food was mediocre, but there is just something about eating filet mignon after a jet ski tour that makes you feel like you are kicking life’s ass. After dinner we were pretty much shit faced. Neither of us actually remember going to bed. But we did, around 9pm. Getting drunk while the sun is out and going to bed at a reasonable time is what vacation is all about.

Tomorrow we take a boat to a floating bar. There is a strong possibility I will get drunk and try to buy it. The entire floating bar.

Getting Tana on Mana

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Today I went to work and painfully counted down the hours until it was time to leave for Fiji. I don’t get paid vacation, so every hour that I can rack up before a big trip counts these days. Steph and I headed to the airport around 9pm. Upon arrival at Tom Bradley, we were met with our first introduction to the awesomeness that is all things Fiji – Fiji Airways. We checked in and requested an open row to share, which we were given. The lady even put a hold on the two seats in between us so no one could randomly be assigned to them. We then headed up to the dreaded international terminal security line, which is always guaranteed to be about as organized as a Chinese seafood buffet line. The first blog victim was an Asian girl struggling to carrying her duffle bag through the line. She therefore left it sitting in the middle of each switchback in the line. She would then walk through the line until she came up on the other side of the bag, at which point she would pick it up and then set it back down on the other side of the lane. This went on for a while. Apparently leaving an unattended duffel bag at random points in the middle of a security line at an international airport is not universally known as a bad idea. I dare homegirl to try that shit in a New York airport. We thought we had encountered our allotment of airport dumbassery for this flight, but the Tom Bradley terminal really is the gift that keeps on giving. Once we made it to the x-ray machines we found ourselves behind another Asian woman with a baby. She placed the baby’s car seat on the conveyor belt and began to push it down the line towards the x-ray. Her only oversight being that her baby was still in it. Captain TSA save-a-baby quickly yelled “Ma’am, you need to take your baby out!”. Score two for the blog. I’m starting to understand China’s one baby rule now. Did I take that one too far? I always do…

Boarding was swift and painless. Our flight was about half full, which is always nice. When I say flight, what I am actually referring to is the flying refrigerator that we flew to Fiji in. I think donated organs have traveled in higher temperatures than what we had to endure on that plane. Steph was so cold that she actually attempted to mummify herself in Fiji Airways blankets, which was about as successful as wrapping yourself in one-ply toilet paper and then sleeping in an igloo. But you can’t blame a girl for trying. We eventually fell asleep, or in my case, into a xanax and cold-induced coma.

Mummy Steph
Mummy Steph

I should probably explain why I introduced two travel companions in the last blog but only have one with me now. Jorgie is meeting us in Fiji in a few days when Steph and I head to our second island. She decided to be a mature adult and stay home for work-related commitments this week. Let the record show I was strongly against this decision. And now you all know why I don’t have a real job with benefits like paid vacation. Benefits are like strings. And employers strangle you with them.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Some of you may have noticed that we skipped Wednesday. We lost a day in en-route to the international date line. World traveler problems. Today we arrived at about 5:30am local time here in Fiji. We breezed through customs and hit duty free. I have been trolling the Fiji travel forum on tripadvisor for the past few months (an informed traveler is a happy traveler) and so I know that booze is pretty expensive out on the Fijian islands. Since daily happy hour when on a beach vacation is not negotiable, we figured we might as well save a few bucks and BYOB a little. We picked up a few bottles of vodka, or as I like to call it, happy water, and about 5 bottles of wine. We hopped in a taxi to the marina driven by the nicest man I have ever met. You know it’s a good sign when even the taxi drivers are happy at 6am. We talked for a while on our way, mostly about how he doesn’t eat meat or drink booze because he had a near death experience in a storm, after which he reaffirmed his Hindu beliefs and now needs to repent. Except for when he visits Las Vegas one day, which he is very much looking forward to.

Twenty minutes later we were at Denarau Marina, where we checked in for our South Sea Cruise ferry out to Mana Island, which would be our first stop of the trip. We bought a few small cases of water and some club soda at the market while we killed a few hours before our ferry. By 9am we were not only the most properly provisioned people on the boat, but the first ones to board. Once we started moving, I popped a bottle of cold champagne that I found in the store at the Marina, because how the hell else do you ring in a new trip? The other people on our ferry looked at us with jealousy. Or maybe it was confusion. I don’t know, but I was buzzed and on a boat so who the hell cares? We passed through the Mamanuca group of the Fijian islands on our way. I included a few pics of our journey, since my words probably can’t do it justice.

We arrived at Mana Island Resort to a rousing signing welcome from the staff. Upon check-in we were informed that they thought we were a couple and so they had upgraded our room. That’s right, a friendmoon suite, complete with our own deck overlooking a beautiful long stretch of beach, a view of neighboring islands, and wine fridge, and an outdoor shower. Name one thing better than an outdoor shower. Seriously, I dare you to think of something better. We walked into our villa and did a little happy dance. Despite being ready for bed at noon, we were determined to make it through the entire day so we could adjust to Fiji time, so we headed down to the activity huts on the south beach to see what our options were for the next few days. With some options to think about, we then headed to the adults only pool, where we had lunch and lazed away the afternoon with our kindles. Thank god for the adults pool, because there are a lot of families here. And you do know why there a lot of families? Because a babysitter costs FJD $5/hr. That’s less than $2.50 USD an hour for a lovely Fijian woman to take your kids off your hands while you enjoy your vacation. If I had kids, I would just buy them an entirely separate room and pay for 24 hour babysitter service. Why not? There isn’t a problem in the world I wouldn’t pay $60/day to make go away. And to be clear here, by problem, I am referring to children.

I always like to have some sort of activity set for day 1. That way you can just show up after a long day of travel and not have to think about anything. I have been known to get a little aggressive with day 1 travel plans in the past. In Santorini, day 1 was a 5 mile hike. In Peru, day 1 was sand boarding and dune buggies. In Rome, day 1 was a full day sightseeing tour. You get the picture. Those were all day 1 activities of my 20s. Now I’m in my 30’s and a day of travel combined with sleeping on a plane takes me a minute to bounce back from. So for this trip, I took it easy on Steph and just made reservations at the spa. After lounging in the sun for the afternoon, we headed over to the beautiful spa here at Mana Island Resort to get a massage and facial. It was heaven. Except for the part where they lathered my hands and feet in a vasaline-like substance and wrapped hot rocks around them for an extended period of time. Nothing good ever came of being slathered in K-Y jelly.

After spa time we showered and attempted to go to dinner at one of the restaurants. It was packed (no reservations allowed at this specific restaurant) and they wanted us to share a table with another couple. Since we were too tired to pull a string of words into a sentence at this point, we decided that would just be awkward for both parties and retreated back to our room for room service and an 8:30pm bed time.

Tomorrow Steph and I take a three hour private jet ski tour around the Mamanuca islands.  Beacuse we fancy as fuck.  We also have a big stash of booze that we need to put a dent in. That shit doesn’t carry itself from island to island. Stay tuned!

The Friendmoon Diaries: Fiji Edition

The eve of my Fiji trip is finally upon us.  And thank god, because I’ve been stuck in the USA for over three months and the travel itch needs to be scratched.  Not to mention this is my last opportunity for reconnaissance before I have to decide what country to move to should Trump be elected president.  Who am I kidding, it’ll obviously be Costa Rica.  This originally started out as a trip to China so that I could check a few of the obligatory tourist sights off the list (Great Wall, Terracotta Warriors, etc).   After my initial research, it came to my attention that I would fucking hate China.  Aggressive crowds, a general lack of respect for personal space, squat toilets, no access to gmail, and the acceptance of dog as a form of meat product made me start to second guess my decision immediately.  Once I found out that real Chinese food includes none of the Panda Express menu items, it was game over.  So I moved China to the Rick Steves retirement tour list and it was back to the drawing board.   At this point I was mentally exhausted out from all the mock Asia travel planning and decided a well deserved beach vacation was in order.  Enter: Fiji.  It was a quick sell to the girls, as I have seldom allowed them a completely laid back beach vacation over our years of travel.  What can I say, I’m getting lazy in my old age.

Speaking of the girls, let’s meet the team for this trip. They are blog veterans.  That’s right my friends, the mean girls are back in action for the first time in 2016!  I’m sure you all remember Katie (aka Jorgie) and Steph from the Sardinia/France and Thailand trips.  Not to mention the 13 other countries I have traveled to with one or both of them B.B. (before blog).   We are no strangers to threesome beach bumming.  We have perfected the art of fitting three plates, three wine glasses, and a few appetizers onto a tiny little table meant for two.  We are experts at breaking up the sets of double beach chairs to awkwardly shove three together, while rotating our one umbrella around as needed.  I even through together a little slideshow from the archives to prove it…

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Since you are already familiar with our little tribe of friendmooners, we’ll skip the introductions this time.  Instead, I’ll use this pre-trip blog to share some fun facts about Fiji with you:

  1.  “Fiji Time” is real.  And it might be the death of me.  This is exactly what it sounds like; an excuse to completely disrespect other people’s time and patience under the guise of a “cultural norm”.  I’ve gotta call bullshit.  Let’s call this what it really is: a mixture of laziness, apathy, and selfishness.  I have estimated that I will be told “relax, you’re on Fiji time!” about 100 times over the course of this trip.  Let me outline the flaw in this statement: since when does wanting to get shit done in a timely and efficient manner automatically classify you as an uptight pain in the ass?  Frankly, I find the complete disregard for productivity downright negligent and borderline sociopathic.    Do I act like a total cunt and then just write it off as “Rory Time”?  No!  Because while I may be a bitch, I’m not a delusional one.  I acknowledge it.  I may not apologize for it, but at least I’m calling a spade a fucking spade.  Just be real with me.  Just say “you know what lady, your snorkel tour is going to start an hour late just because I’m lazy/hungover/just like to fuck with annoying tourists”.  I’ll still be pissed, but at least you’ll have a shred my respect.    With this all being said, I still have to behave like a good little tourist and respect this “cultural difference”.  Luckily I have developed a method for abiding by “Fiji Time” while simultaneously combating “Rory Time”.  It’s a little thing I like to call “Xanax time”.
  2.   Fijians = Cannibals.  At least until the 1800s.  Native Fijian tribes used to actually eat people.  And sacrifice them.   The last reports of cannibalism were some unlucky  missionaries a few hundred years ago.  Apparently the gospel has spread since then and eating god’s humble servants is now a no-no.  I have to point out here you would never see a Jew getting eaten for the sake of proselytizing our religion.  We don’t play that shit.  I just want to state for the record that the only thing I am willing to sacrifice on this trip is a day to the international date line.  And even then, I want it back on my way home.  Should there be some bizarre natural disaster that necessitates a cannibalism revitalization, I am confident that I won’t be the first tourist chosen.  But I also won’t be the last.  #thighslikewhat
  3. Kava is their hallucinogen of choice.  Here is the scoop on Kava.  It’s a communal, plant based drink that symbolizes community and togetherness.  In the spirit of calling things like I see it, it’s the Fijians drink of choice to chill with friends or family at the end of a long day and get a little loose.  Or, when a case of “Fiji time” strikes, something to pack for your afternoon lunch at work.  Word on the street is that is tastes like dirt and is offered to tourists in a ceremony of sorts where a cup is passed around.  Since I’m not exactly a stranger to passing things around in a circle of friends, and this drink is supposed to make you more adaptable to good old “Fiji Time”, I’m thinking I might have to give this one a try.   Not to worry, I will report back after I have spit it out and gone in search of vodka.

So what can you expect from my Fiji trip?  Given the fact that booze is even more expensive than prompt service out on the islands, I would say that my alcoholism will probably be somewhat contained on this trip.  That was obviously sarcasm. I’m just going to get drunk expensively.  You can expect me to complain about “Fiji Time” at least ten times (once per day should suffice).  I just found out there is a New Zealand school holiday while I’m in Fiji, so given the geographic proximity of NZ to Fiji, I would imagine that you can expect a few rants about my utter disdain for other people’s children.  I’m no stranger to the Kiwi’s “zero fucks” attitude, so I can only dread how that will manifest itself into a lack of discipline when it comes to their parenting skills.

Oh, you wanted the positives?  Well, since my life is essentially one long endeavor to get myself on a boat, interspersed with half-hearted attempts at being a contributing member of society, there will definitely be quite a few nautical adventures.  I’ll be aggressively tan.  I’ll do some snorkeling.  Although my definition of snorkeling is drinking a beer while floating in a clear body of water.  You say potato… I will burn through every book on my kindle.  I’ll hop through some of the most beautiful islands in the world and lounge on hammocks while watching insanely beautiful sunsets and drinking absurdly expensive cocktails (because I am rich, bitch! ok maybe not – but I’m good at pretending to be).  If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – my friendmoon is gonna kick your honeymoon’s ass.  Minus that whole not getting laid thing.  You got me there, honeymooners.