Bula! (Greetings in FIJIAN)!
It is day 2 of the Global Scavenger Hunt grand adventure, and Mom and I are sitting by the pool at the Westin Resort in…… Fiji!! That is right, Fiji is the first stop on our adventurous global circumnavigation! It has been interesting thus far.
Mom and I awoke yesterday in our own beds and bounced up full of anticipation. We had packed the night before and my wonderful and ever helpful twin sister Mamie had gone over our packing list with us once more before we went to bed. Our flight left Nashville at 9:55 am, and Dad was kind enough to drive us up there. The ride and flight were without incident, and we were in LA before we knew it!
We checked into the Westin Hotel in Los Angeles and had a bite of lunch, then skipped off to the lobby to join our group of fellow Scavengers and learn the rules and regs. Everyone is wonderful, and we really love the concoction of personality types and relationship dynamics of the teams! There are a total of 8 teams this year, mostly from the US with the exception of Barbadians and Aussies. There are husband/wife teams, a brother/brother team, a sister/sister team, a single traveler, and us. We cant wait to get to know everyone better!
The rules were all very familiar, as Bill and Pamela have sent out the guidelines beforehand and, in our ever-present eagerness to be our best, we have read them multiple times already: No looking up destination information before hand, no use of the internet for research, no use of the concierge desk for information or reservation-making, no hiring private transportation, etc, etc. The bottom line is, don’t cheat! Be upstanding world citizens, get into the culture, trust strangers in strange lands, and have fun!
Following the meeting, at 6:00 pm we had a group dinner at the hotel, where we got to know each other better. At 7:00 or so Bill’s phone alarm went off and we were given our first destination: Fiji! We were to meet at the airport at 9:30 pm for our 11:00 flight. We went to our rooms, showered, called our family members, and caught the shuttle for the airport.
Our 11 hour flight was smooth; it is really very nice to fly this far at night, as we like to take a Melatonan and pass out. We sat beside a wonderful lady who is from Fiji but now lives in Canada; she was on her way to Fiji to visit her parents and inlaws. We talked about her life and children, she had an arranged marriage that has lasted 23 years strong! We found out later that around 20% of Fijians still have arranged marriages, and that they are usually arranged by the leader of the village. A village consists of an entire extended family.
Here is how a village works: Each child born into a family is entitled to a plot of land in the village on which to build a house. Many children move off of the islands (there are over 100 inhabited islands in Fiji) to find work and advance their education. However, they usually go back to their native village when they retire and build a house and live with their families. When a woman marries she joins the village of her husband. Mom and I love this idea as we know the importance of family and maintaining those strong bonds. While a family is not always related by blood, the idea of this village setup is intriguing!
We awakened just a couple of hours before we were to land and in time to see us cross the International Date Line and the Equator! There is a nineteen hour difference between here and CDT, so we lost a day, which we will make up on the other side of the world! We landed in Fiji and collected our luggage without consequence, went through customs and got our stamp (every fellow traveler knows the excitement of getting a new stamp in their passport!) and headed to the hotel, where I am writing this from. What an awesome adventure it has been already!
More to come very soon!
Moce (Goodbye) for now!!