We are in the air right now between Fiji & New Zealand, thinking back on the first 5 days of our trip on the island of Viti Levu. Our visit really exceeded our expectations.
We stayed at the Mango Bay Resort on the Coral Coast--the south side of Fiji's biggest island. Besides a good amount of lounging by the beach, we did fit in many of the activities provided by the resort; kayaking, snorkeling, beach volleyball, hat weaving, fish feeding and pineapple smashing. Most importantly, we took 1st & 2nd place in the coconut bowling competition! USA! USA! USA!
It was much more affordable than we thought it would be--when you add up our beds, meals, bottled water, alcoholic beverages and internet use, it only cost us 40 USD/person/day. We were surprised to have done so much on such a small budget.
We were the only Americans at the resort during our stay (except for one night, when a group of "non-independents" whisked through on their organized tour bus, only to leave on their hurried schedule first thing the following morning). After listening to them describe their itinerary, it really vindicated our preferred method of the more carefree, do-it-yourself style of travel.
We had the opportunity to enjoy a Kava Ceremony--which involves drinking a root-based tea that makes you feel very relaxed. After that Jennifer took in a polynesian fire dance on the beach while Robert enjoyed a Kava-induced slumber back in the dorm room.
All in all we had an awesome time in Fiji--which is pretty much what we expected. Each morning we enjoyed an amazing complementary breakfast of papaya, pineapple, watermelon, banana, toast, coffee, cereal, orange juice. Delicious! We ate our meals and enjoyed our drinks with our Swiss friend, Stella, and our Aussie friend, Serena. There were a few English guys who kept the ping-pong and pool tables warmed up for us most of the time. We met some really great people. Amigas para siempre.
Nevertheless, we're glad to be en route to New Zealand, before any island fever could set in. We'll be landing in Auckland in 30 minutes (from where we hope to be able to send out this post), and in a couple of hours after we land, we depart for Christchurch. We're leaving for the south island immediately because a few days from now Auckland will host the championship game of the World Cup of Rugby. NZ vs. France. Prices in Auckland are high due to the Cup, and we hear that hostels are charging people 50 NZD (about 38 USD) to sleep on their couches. No thanks. If NZ wins, the entire country is going to explode with excitement, and we're happy to be able to bear witness to the craziness. Go All Blacks!
We can't believe that the first leg of this trip is already over! Hope everyone back home is doing well. Bummer about the brew crew--but we hope to be able to watch the Packers in the Superbowl.
UPDATE: We just arrived in Christchurch! The entire city center is closed down due to the devastating earthquakes. Last September a powerful earthquake hit the city. An aftershock 2 months ago actually killed more people than the original quake. We're going to stay here only for a couple of nights then head down to the southern part of the island. We're currently in the market to buy a campervan to use for the next month. Let's hope that Robert can drive safely on the wrong side of the road!
Until next time,
J & R