Moving to Fiji with $50

'It is never a disservice to see more in someone than they show you.' I am not sure where this quote comes from, but I am sure I read it somewhere. It is one of my guiding principles today, and for me, that is exactly as Hosanna saw me. Always as more.

That's how she treated me as well.

It's much simpler to tell people that she is one of my best friends. She is. But this is the beauty of childhood connections. We met when we were 16 at a mock government conference. Immediately, we felt like best friends and have simply always 'gotten' each other. I have come to know a handful of other connections like this... that blossom so rapidly and strongly... that never flicker or fade...

However, we only had the luxury of hanging out like maybe 10 times before we left to college. She was homeschooled and was ahead of me in many ways. One of them was her advancement in school, though because she took a year off to learn Hindi and travel to India to teach people about sanitation, I was only a year behind her in terms of academics.

Just as I had dropped out of University; she was graduating from the University of Hawaii. She told me that she was kind of seeing a guy there, and that I should move to Fiji with her.

So that's what I did. I sold my car to move to Fiji, but it only really paid for the plane ticket. I knew I would be working and had a place to live so I didn't worry too much about the rest.

Though, I remember Hosanna asking me out of curiosity how much money did I bring, '$50'. It was all that I had. Her and her boyfriend kind of laughed I remember, but I never understood why.

My first day in Fiji was a dream. It was all so very amazing, and it could have gone any way to be honest. I never planned for anything. In fact, when I showed up to customs they asked me where I was staying (normal) and I didn't know. They asked me when my return flight was (normal); I didn't know. They asked me how long I was staying (normal); I didn't know.

So they brought me to the back room. Still, I wasn't alarmed. I sat down, and the gentleman asked me what I was doing in Fiji, and I responded, "Oh I am just here to visit my best friend Hosanna!"

"Hosanna!? Hosanna Kabakoro is you best friend! Oh!" with that, he stamped my passport, and I was on my way.

I figure I have this way about me that strangers always think that I will accept conversation. They are right. I do. In this particular instance as we were walking through duty-free, a gentleman asked me if I was getting anything.

"Nope. I don't really drink, and my friend doesn't either." (little did I know at the time!)

"Well, would you mind getting some alcohol for me? Here is some cash."

So I took the man's cash. I bought some alcohol and when we got through security, I gave him the alcohol and his receipt. I had no idea that that was not okay. Though, everything was fine... and as I went through the gates, there was Hosanna and her boyfriend! It was 6:45AM. Hosanna looked incredible, per usual. Did I mention that she was Miss Congeniality in the Miss Teen USA pageant?

Yes, she is fabulous. Even at 6:45AM, she looks like she's prepared for a paparazzi bombardment: totally incognito but subtly fierce.

I felt bewilderment. Exhaustion. Excitement. The weight and energy of the tropical atmosphere. The vibrant blues of the sky. The colorful buildings. The sounds of the birds. The trees. There's nothing like it. Beyond being a tropical haven, Fiji will always be my favorite destination.

Our first activity was surfing. She picked me up from the airport, got some hot buns and pies, and then we dropped off our stuff to head out surfing.

We drove to this beach by the Intercontinental... It was our own beach, and Hosanna lined up a HOT, Australian surf instructor to give us lessons. I remember standing up on the first try, and she was pissed. I will not forget that; it's how I remember that I did something special.

But every moment was special. Later that day we went to a friend's house, and I got to feel the real vibe of the people of Fiji. The kids with their nanas. The respect for the ocean. The connection with nature. The joy of life.

To say hello in Fijian, is 'Bula.' If you literally translate it, it means 'to give life.' My experience there was nothing short of that.

That very same day, we stayed out until 2AM! Having shots until I literally was calling asleep. Then Hosanna, let me, US, go home.

That's how you don't get jet lag. It works a treat. I slept amazingly that night and woke up at a normal time the next day. Hosanna knows so many of life's secrets.

It was perhaps the next day that we left from Nadi to Suva. This was when I learned that Hosanna's boyfriend's dad happened to be the Prime Minister. We were going to stay with him for a week while we learned about sharks as they were going to be ambassadors for shark conservation.

I will never forget it. The first time I ever snorkeled was above Tiger, Bull, and Lemon sharks while my friends dove with them. It was exhilarating but stressful for me... every time I felt the remora suck on body, I would jolt! It terrified me. Though remora, known as suckerfish, are commonly found around where sharks are.

At home, or the place where we were staying, I was reflecting massively on the profoundness of me staying at the Prime Minister's house the very first week I cam to Fiji. I was trying to imagine if I had some friends come visit from another country, and I was able to provide them with a place to stay at the President's house.

We both woke up early, and I would have chats with him about the world and politics while he sat in his white briefs. It humanized political figures for me. I saw him eating breakfast and playing with his grandchildren and kissing his wife. I saw a human, which is so important when we relate politics to back home in the United States.

Meanwhile, I was having difficulty sleeping my first few nights. I was waking up at 3AM. A time that I was told was the devil's hour. I told Hosanna, my third night in a row... and she told me of a demon local to the island who would watch women in the night. If you had a sexual dream about a very attractive man, then that was the demon taking over. I hadn't had such a dream. She said then, I was safe, but what I must do is eat garlic while sitting on the toilet. This would make me super unattractive to him.

The next night, I woke up, and I sat on the toilet cautiously looking around whilst eating raw garlic. I went back to sleep and never woke up in the middle of the night again.

When I told Hosanna and her boyfriend of this, they died of hysterical laughter. It was all a joke, but it worked for me... and in that, I see a lot of other creative ideas to solve things we perceive as issues.

My journey to Fiji is only just beginning. In fact, this is only the first week of 3 months that I visited.

The adventures that followed inspired me to write a poetry book. The poetry/prose book is a collection of writing from the past 7 years of traveling. I hope it brings some faith and inspiration into your own life.

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© 2020 by Walkyria Whitlock