You don’t need to run away in your sleep and dream of paradise when you are in Fiji. Arguably, paradise can take on many forms, but when a country’s motto is ‘no hurry, no worry’, you know you’re definitely close to finding it.
The landscape in this Island Republic is both beautiful and fascinating, and not just in reference to the physical landscape of the swaying coconut palms and white beaches, but also Fiji’s political and cultural landscape. Amidst the welcoming words and shy smiles of the Fijians, there is tradition and progression. In the outlying areas and smaller villages, local Malagasy laws are upheld, and certain waters require permission for fishing or entering from traditional priests. In the cities, cultures mix in the blend of entrepreneurialism and tourism. Most recently, the quest for a new flag design had Fiji questioning its own past and future.
However, as much as I could not wait to travel Fiji and expand my own sporting interests, my purpose here is of environmental concern and community development. I spent my first week acclimatising, building a hopefully strong relationship with my wonderful homestay family, reading biodiversity reports (for fun!), and generally getting ready preparing project work and volunteers. Everyone I have met, from local partners to volunteers, have all been fantastic, with their determined ‘we are in this together’ attitude. The more I see, read and witness, the more I realise that there is a lot to tap into here. Among community development and environmental conservation, there are waves to surf, ocean depths to dive, and rainforests to hike.
So, to quote Toba Beta, “By having good memories on every place you visit, you are building paradise in your own heart,” So, pass the kava, and mind the carbs.
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