In search of Paradise in Fiji. So, I’ve always tended to overthink things. Take when I was about eight years old. I saw an article that said: “This is Paradise”. Well. I was just amazed. Paradise EXISTS? Whaaat! I thought it was only in my storybooks. But no. Here it was in the Sunday paper. This is Paradise, it said so, and Dad’s important newspapers would not lie.
Then there was a photograph of the picture-perfect white sand beach. The bluest of the blue ocean and palm trees dotted all along the shore. I had never seen anything like it. Wow, I thought. One day I am going to visit Paradise. Where is it, I wondered? Fiji, it read. Who knew. Paradise was a place called Fiji. I decided there and then that one day I would go in search of Paradise in Fiji, and all my dreams would come true because Paradise is the place of dreams. Right?
If ifs and ands were pots and pans
So, I haven’t written a blog for a while. I’ve been busy doing that thinking, and it can go deep. It can take days. Weeks. Entering my world of many, many, questions. All of which remain eternally unanswered. You know those, yeah but no but things. Mmmhmm it may be that we evolved into humans – but – what if we hadn’t? What, if, things had taken a different direction?
Consequently, what, if, humans evolved to be as compassionate as the elephants we saw in beautiful Botswana how wonderful the world would be. Hey, have you ever thought about that? No, you haven’t. What if, I hadn’t done A then B wouldn’t have happened, and then I may have ended up with D? Would D have been better than C? Oh my god, what is the D life? Maybe there was an A(a) that I didn’t do, and that saved me from D – so many questions.
And what, my mind has persisted, if that paradise of my 8-year-old dreams doesn’t exist? What if I go in search of Paradise in Fiji and paradise, isn’t there?
So, on this grand tour around the world, realising we were only 3 hours away in Auckland, it seemed entirely proper to blow the budget and book a flight to come and find out.
In search of Paradise: the journey begins
Firstly, we boarded Fiji Airways from New Zealand. It had to be Fiji Airways right? How exotic. So – I got on. My seat was well, half a seat. I reckoned someone must have pulled it off trying to get out of the oh so squishy space. But hey ho Paradise awaited.
Next, we landed in Nadi. It was rainy, cloudy. There was a lot of commotion and pushing to get off the plane. Not to worry, stay focussed. I am in search of Paradise in Fiji. I am on a mission. It’s going to be amazing. Right?
We had only brought carry on luggage so skipped, cough, out of the airport to look for our driver. In the depths of my mind, I was skipping. In my head we would float gaily from the airport, smiling, twirling, birds chirping merrily. It actually went – “What is your face tripping you for now? You look like you’re attending a funeral. Bloody hell smile – its @%&* Paradise for @$%& sake!” I told you in About Us Iain doesn’t skip. He doesn’t often smile. Sometimes it’s challenging to ascertain what he is thinking, and I jump to broad conclusions. “Well, I was happy he muttered” Ok, ok I read the signals wrong. Hey ho, it’s stressful finding Paradise. (3 minutes in Paradise and I’d already @%$% twice). My search for Paradise in Fiji didn’t get off to a flying start. Sigh.
How-ever, all would be restored momentarily.
Take me to Paradise Fiji Mick
So, promptly locating Fiji Mick (no scary flashbacks to the Kenya abandonment debacle) we then set off to find our car. Pleeeeease don’t be that one I thought. Pleaaaa….yeah it was. We climbed in over the dust and stoor, and it spluttered to life, well it came out of its coma, it maybe didn’t quite reach full life status. But don’t worry, don’t worry, we, were, off!
…….. Come on Fiji Mick get going. ……… Speed was not Fiji Mick’s strongpoint. And then, hoorah we started moving. Paradise awaits.
Land of Hope and… ah yeah, damn
Right. Yes. Of course. Britain has been here before, hasn’t it? I could immediately identify its Rule Britannia mucky footprints. Double sigh. What kind of merry hell did they create this time – in my paradise of Paradise? Well, they shipped in the Indian population by the thousands back in 18 oatcake. Of course, they did.
“I shall take these people from whence the land they live and drop them into this far-flung here island to work on the sugar plantations. Here is my flag I declare you a British colony – Horrah for me.” (Paraphrasing, paraphrasing don’t sue me).
Dear god the Brexit irony; Brexony!
Does my search for Paradise in Fiji have flaws, I wondered?
Any-hoo, indeed, the fields of sugar cane remain plentiful to see, dotted with wooden corrugated-iron roofed housing coloured blue and red and yellow. As we drove along, we passed women working the fields digging and scraping soil. Many families were dotted throughout who while seeming to be perfectly fine getting on with living, didn’t have that look of ‘we live in Paradise’ look how lucky we are. Places of worship were plentiful, a mix of Hindu and Christian. It struck me it may have looked this same way for many, many, years.
What if humans were as compassionate as elephants though
As Fiji Mick had assumed a driving position of at least 20kph under the speed limit, I had plenty of time to survey and wonder and consider this colonial past. What if Britain didn’t uproot half the world, where would they all be now I thought? I was back to that yeah but no but thing. I suddenly wanted to ask Fiji Mick if he had a good life living in Fiji. And did he realise he lived in Paradise? I decided I should not, in fact, do that.
Flying in I could see there was pretty much only 1 or 2 ‘real’ roads the rest seemed to be dirt tracks with very few vehicles on them. Fiji Mick informed us the whole island is about 400 to 500 km side to side. As a result, it’s very green. Lush green. Deep ‘I’m good for you’ kind of green. As the recent rain cleared it smelt fresh and clear. And very hilly. The hills that are covered in green velvet type hills. Lots of coconut trees. Yet still somehow, not the Paradise of my dreams.
Paradise – HORSHE!
All of a sudden, my deep thinking was interrupted as we momentarily sped up to 70kph!! Fiji Mick had excitedly stepped on the pedal shouting “horsh horshe” “three horshes”. Indeed there were, peering out of what I would describe as a charabanc, three horses heads. Attached to their bodies, I should add, alive and well: we’re not talking a scene from the Godfather. “Do you like horsh ?” “Yes, but not for eating” replied Iain. Oh god. Welcome to paradise.
Fiji Mick gets overly excited-for the second time
Before long we turned towards our hotel sign, 12km it read, and something magical happened; Fiji Mick started hitting 79kph. He was driving on both sides of the road, any which way and loose. But suddenly there were cows in the road. And dogs. Whole families, sitting, on the road! Other cars emerged driving every which way and loose on our side of the road. Slow down Fiji Mick, slow down!
Welcome to … Paradise?
Finally, we drove to the gates of Paradise. Or rather the Marriott Resort. Mmm… Beautiful it certainly is. But did I find Paradise? Had I found that place where dreams exist on earth. No, of course, I didn’t.
But! I have been awake half the night thinking it over…
Maybe, it was there all along. Paradise. It was there with what I already had way back when I was eight years old with my dad and his Sunday papers. I would give anything to have him back now. With my mum making the Sunday tea. With my brothers generally annoying me, picking on their little sister. In the everyday safety of home. Maybe I didn’t need to dream of escaping. It was all right there. There when I decided to do A, which made B happen and my life led to C. It was all Paradise. It had been there all along.
Yes, travel, it’s all learning…still learning from this Life on the road!
Speaking of roads Fiji Mick, actually known as Micks Fiji tours were pretty reliable, so if you’re lucky enough to be visiting Fiji you can look them up!
And it may not, actually, be Paradise on earth but it is stunning…