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!

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