I was nervous and jittery as we began our descent into Nadi, it felt like I was going to meet a lover, my heart was beating fast and when we finally landed it took all my self control not to push past all the people in the aisle. At last I was down the stairs and on the tarmac taking big deep breaths of Fiji…. warm damp air tinged with just a hint of sugar cane.
I was determined to stay detached, after all I had only come back for a few weeks to look after my friends resort www.navutustarsfiji.com and to finish research on my book about my former life here. I mean, what could happen in three and a half weeks…..? The only thing is I have gone and fallen in love all over again…. The spirit of Fiji seems to be running through my veins and the thought of leaving in a couple of days fills me with such sadness. I am certainly no stranger to beautiful places, or to goodbyes but these enchanted islands move me beyond words, and it is a rare thing for me to be lost for words…..
I am sitting in the office, it’s pouring with rain and the guests are huddled in the dining room as the staff perform the meke, a traditional Fijian performance of song and dance. Nobody sings like the Fijians, they harmonise so beautifully and sing with such passion, gusto and joy, it must be the happiest sound in the world, but it is so hauntingly beautiful that it always makes me want to cry. Everyone is in such good spirits, it’s Frasiers 60th birthday – he has been with the resort since it opened and is the loveliest man, with the sweetest smile and the kindest nature. We are celebrating his birthday in true Fijian style… morning tea preceded by a bowl of kava for everyone, and a flower lei for the birthday boy, then Grace said grace, and we all tucked into bowls of tea (yes bowls) and heavy buttery cakes which the Fijians love. The party continues with singing, guitar playing and more kava, (the quintessential fijian drink that makes you feel mildly euphoric, and leaves you legless if you drink enough of it… ) All the guests have joined in – today its one big Navutu family, except of course Maddalena, Freddy and Giovanna are missing, and this is their baby!!!! Like me they were seduced by the island magic, so much so that they built this beautiful resort from scratch, no easy task in this remote group of islands adrift in the Pacific Ocean. Fiji certainly isn’t for the feint hearted, and despite incredible challenges they persevered and created this island paradise. Now they are in Cambodia and have just opened their new resort Navutu Dreams. Actually, Madalena is in Thailand about to deliver her third child, and thanks to modern technology I can send her a constant stream of photos and updates via facebook. Life has certainly changed from a few years ago when our only communication with the outside world was by two way radio…….
Working here has been amazing, my days are long and often bizarre, with twists and turns in every directions – spontaneous visits from the island chief, boats breaking down, local fishermen dropping by to sell freshly caught snapper and mud crab, our waiter Wati (better knows as Queen Mother) doing his Billy Ocean dance routine, most strange of all is one of the guests (quite a diva) who refuses to eat in the dining room because she saw the resort cat there, and apparently has a cat phobia. And now the meke has finished and all the guests and the staff are doing the snake dance around the dining room and laughing hysterically. Actually its the laughter i love more than anything, in all my travels around the world I have never met a culture more disposed to happiness and merriment, and it is so utterly contagious. How blessed I am to have Fiji in my life….