This past weekend I seriously needed to get out of Suva. I haven’t seen the sun in ages because it has been raining, I had a ton of other volunteers at my house last week, and Peace Corps office was pissing me off. Plus, I only have 5 weekends left in Fiji, I want to make them count! So, two other volunteers and I decide to go to one of the outer islands for a night. Robinson Crusoe Island.
I have never had the desire to visit this island. It always seemed like such a tourist trap, they cater mostly to day trippers, there are crab races and nature walks, and then staff at the resort put on a whole show for the tourists- fire dancing and all that. Never really tickled my fancy. However, another volunteer had been there before and said it was a ton of fun. So after some persuading from him and my roommate to go “play the tourist” for a few days….I gave in.
After a 45 minute boat ride we come up to this tiny little island right off the coast, small enough that you can walk around in less than an hour. We can hear the staff singing our welcoming song on the beach and just as we pull up a “native” comes running up to us in a grass skirt yelling some battle cry. All part of the show I thought as I rolled my eyes.
We had about an hour after we got off the boat to set up camp in the dorms, I immediately changed into my suit and went straight to the ocean. There was an entire program of activities that the resort were putting on that day, most of which I had no interest in. I didn’t want to be treated like just another sucker tourist who comes to Fiji to be entertained. Sometimes I feel a little snotty towards tourists… I’m not sure why. So I passed on the snorkeling trip but was talked into the crab races and then fell for a prank the resort put on. After a while I realized that the staff was having just as much fun as the guests were! Like seriously having a ball. They didn’t resent us for being tourists, we weren’t exploiting them and their culture, it was them who were celebrating it and were happy to share it with us. So, I quickly got over myself and let myself start having some fun! And boy did I!! The rest of the afternoon consisted of lounging on the beach, floating in the ocean, playing on an inflatable obstacle course, and fun activities with the staff.
After a spectacular sunset, we showered and got ready for the nights activities which included the famous fire walkers of Beqa and Pacific inspired dancing, all performed by the staff. There was a delicious lovo (earth oven) for dinner and then there was the show. It was AMAZING. The dancers are so talented. I was really mesmerized the whole time. They turned the lights off on the entire resort which really made the fire illuminate the dancers and the spectators.
After the show, the day trippers took the boat back to the main land and there were a few scattered people staying the night on the island. Some Brazilian girls, some English guys, some Aussies, some Kiwis and then us Americans. We all sat together and drank grog with the staff and talked like we were all friends. Around midnight I made my way to the dorms to go to sleep, you could see every star in the sky.
We woke up early the next morning, ate some breakfast, and I immediately went to the ocean again. I really wanted to spend as much time in the ocean as I could. Maybe it was because the ocean was so cold and refreshing on my sunburned skin, or maybe because I had the beach all to myself, or maybe it was because I don’t know how many more times I will be able to float in the warm South Pacific Ocean.
There was another group of day trippers that day, coming in on the morning boat, eating lunch, watching the show, and then heading back on the afternoon boat. So the staff put up the activities board and did the same routine as the day before: snorkeling, crab races, nature walk, etc. It was amazing to me to see how natural they were with it, never bored with the same activities or entertaining the people. Acting like their jobs are the most fun thing in the world.
After a delicious lunch it was time for another fire dancing show. Only this show was different from the one the night before, different dances, more Polynesian dancing. Just as gorgeous though.
After the show, and getting in the ocean one more time it was time to go. We got on the boat with the returning day trippers and the staff sang isa lei while we were leaving. I had so much fun that weekend, I laughed harder than I had laughed in months, and came back to Suva feeling rejuvenated and excited to finish up my service here. It was so nice to go somewhere and play the tourist, not to take myself so seriously, kick back and have some fun. It totally got me ready to be the tourist in my upcoming travels!!