Posted by: Alicia Phillips | June 5, 2012

One Year Anniversary and a Visit from Family!

Well, I made it! I’ve completed my first year! One year in Peace Corps Fiji down, one more to go. Whewww!!! If this next year is anything like this first year than I am in for a roller coaster ride of emotional highs and lows and drama out the wazoo! But….with the way things are going right now, something tells me that my second year is going to be all kinds of awesome.

You may asking yourself “how does one celebrate this big Peace Corps milestone?”  By having family come visit…..duh!!

My big brother Cy and his wife Meighan took the leap and came to visit me in Fiji for a week! Now let me tell you why this was awesome of them for numerous reasons:

1) It’s not exactly easy OR cheap to get to Fiji; lots of layovers and then an 11 hour overnight flight from LAX. And when you get here you are transported a day in to the future so you are all out of whack and jet lagged and blown away by everything that surrounds you.

2) My bro is a real estate agent and it is really hard for him to disconnect. Internet and voicemail is sketchy over here. And in the real estate business a missed email or a missed call is a missed opportunity to do business and pay the bills.

3) They left my super adorable 11 month old nephew behind. I have never met this kid but I am pretty sure when I do it will be hard to part with him. The fact that my bro and sis in law did that JUST to see me is pretty cool.

Honestly… cute is this kid?

4) And……….they brought a lot me duty free booze. Damn I love my family

So they flew in, 5am, and we immediately jumped on a boat that took us out to a resort called Octopus on a remote island nestled in a remote island group called the Yasawas; about 3 hours in a speed boat off the coast of the main land. So pretty much we were in the middle of nowhere here in the middle of nowhere. And it was awesome. And freakin’ gorgeous.

Octopus Resort on Waya Island in the Yasawas

Meighan and I didn’t mess around either, once we got to our room we popped a bottle of champagne and went straight to the beach. My brother just shook his head and went to find a computer so he could be a responsible adult for a few minutes.

We spent a few days at this resort just taking it easy. We went snorkeling right off the beach, laid out all day, drank cocktails, made jewelry, went hand line fishing, and saw some pretty amazing sunsets.

My first fish!!!

Sunset over the ocean

The next leg of our trip we spent in Suva, the capitol city where I stay. I showed them all the markets in town: handicraft, vegetable, women’s craft, grog, and the flower market. It was cool but we were eager to get back to resort life. So then we proceeded to take the perilous journey up to Rakiraki area.

Cy and Meighan in the grog market

The drive to Rakiraki was a bit scary….

We finally made it to our next destination which was Volivoli resort. Now what Octopus had in Fiji charm and easy beach access Volivoli had in breath-taking landscape and exciting water sports.  This resort had a whole other feel to it.

Walkway to our room at Volivoli

We immediately dropped off our bags, threw on our swim suits, chartered a boat and went to one of the best snorkeling reefs in Fiji. Right off the coast of Nananu-i-ra island.

Now at this point in my story I am going to give my sister-in-law mad props for going snorkeling. She told me before we even went out that she is 1) scared of fish and 2) scared of the open ocean. But when our dive master took us to our spot, about half a mile from shore, she jumped in like it was nothing. After the boat dropped us off he sped off and left us there on the reef to float down to him. After 2 hours of seeing squid and lobsters, nemo and flounder, sea snakes, crowns of thorns and bazillions of gorgeous fishies we floated up to the boat. Hands down the best snorkeling I have ever seen.

Now, I had heard rumors of a pearl farm up near where we were staying, so I did a little digging and sure enough, there is a small privately owned island that had a small pearl farming operation. So we all took a 15 minute boat ride and went to tour this pearl farm.

Meighan and I checking out the pearls for sale

Does everyone reading this know how a pearl is made? No? well let me tell you. In so many words….it is awesome. The farmers take a piece of the meat of an existing oyster, pair it with a “seed” if you will, then insert both of them into the nuclei of a living oyster. Then drop the oyster in the sea and wait two years to see if anything comes from it. 1 in 35 oysters has a nice round pearl. Pretty cool right? We thought so…….so we bought some legit Fiji black pearls.

Isa…….our week came to an end much too fast. Granted my family saw A LOT more of Fiji than most tourists do, but there is still so so so much they didn’t get to see. Come to think of it, there is still so much I have yet to see of this amazing country. But, I did get to see one side of Fiji on this trip that I haven’t experienced before, the side with delicious food and yummy cocktails and naps on the beach and nice rooms that I didn’t have to share with 10 other strangers like I do when I stay at backpackers places. It was such a treat, so much so that I had a hard time coming back home afterwards. I still felt like I was on vacation. You mean drinking cocktails at 3 in the afternoon isn’t normal? What do you mean I have to go back to work tomorrow? Cook my own food? Oatmeal everyday again?  Isa……back to reality.

On our last day, while we were eating lunch I had a pleasant realization. If I wasn’t in such a good place right now, if I wasn’t so happy with my job and my town, and if I didn’t feel like what I am doing was worthwhile, then seeing them go would have been hard.  But I wasn’t upset when they left, it was SO good to see them, but I was ready to get back to work, and get back to my life. This place really does feel like home to me now.

Me,my brother, and Sis-in-law

Now you may be thinking….yeah it’s all good and fine celebrating with your family but seems like you would want to celebrate your one year milestone with the other volunteers too.

And you would be right…..I do want to celebrate with my fellow volunteers. This is why we are having a pub crawl next month. J Things might get crazy.   

Until next time! Moce!


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