Saturday, December 25, 2010

Off the Grid - Food, Diving, Love and Cholera in Paradise

Bula! We recently took a trip to the Fiji Islands, and I took this opportunity to go completely off the grid - no cellphone, no computer, no TV, no newspapers. I was afraid I wouldn't last the week and succumb to withdrawal symptoms, but I decided I would give it my best shot. Not happy with just being off the grid, I decided to bring a book with me. If I read it, it would be the first book I would read in almost 4 years. I had heard great things about Love in the Time of Cholera and it was a genre of books I hadn't ever attempted to read before, so I figured it would be ideal. As luck would have it, the King Country public library in Bellevue (a most excellent library, by the way) had the book available to check out.

Well, turns out that the world does continue to turn even if I don't read the news, write some code, catch up on blogs and scan Facebook.

It was a great week full of excellent scuba diving, phenomenal tropical foods and magnificent living in resorts bathed in luxury and relaxation. We spent a few days at Outrigger on the Lagoon near Sigatoka on the main island, Viti Levu. It was larger than I would've preferred, but our plan here was to primarily relax and explore some of the surrounding villages/towns and interact with local Fijians and experience Fijian culture. We did 2 dives at Beqa Lagoon, but saved the majority of our diving for the latter half of our trip, which was near the more renowned dive sites. Instead, we spent a day relaxing at the resort and enjoying a local bar and another exploring some not-so-touristed surrounding. We got invited to dinner at a local family's house (our taxi driver, who happened to be a 4th generation Fijian Indian), and it was a humbling experience. Our hosts were a warm-hearted family who lived in a modest home in a tiny village who served us lovingly prepared Fijian dishes. The fish lovo, made with a snapper that was caught the previous night, and vegetable curry made with Taro root and star fruit, were delicious.

At the end of this part of the trip, I was done reading about a third of my book, and I hadn't felt the urge to get wired in at all, although internet access was readily available. I read by the pool, on the beach and in the lounge - the book was more interesting than I had imagined, and written in a style that was very refreshing.

Our next stop was the Namale Resort & Spa, home to the Sexiest Villas in the South Pacific. I knew the resort was good and I had lofty expectations for the price I had paid, but it exceeded my every expectation. From the warm welcome to the teary send-off, I could not have imagined a better way celebrate love. We spent the mornings diving, after having devoured a scrumptious breakfast. We were lucky enough to dive Chimneys and Grand Central at the Namena Barrier Reef on our last day of diving. I cannot imagine a better dive site than Chimneys anywhere in the world. It was magical - I think I could dive Chimneys every day for a year and still be amazed after every dive. After diving, we would partake of the phenomenal 3-course lunch served at a location of our choice (beach, deck, bure... anywhere we felt like eating) and spend the afternoon lazing on the beach, in the spa or indulging in more water activites (snorkel, water ski, etc). After that, some more R&R and drinks to whet the appetite for the gastronomical extravaganza that was dinner, accompanied by island cocktails or wine pairings and the Kava Boys. Every day, we were made to feel special with several personal touches by the staff at the resort - they really treated us like family. If there is paradise, Namale was pretty darn close to what I'd like it to be.

My reading progressed surprisingly well, and I found myself carrying my book to the beach, to the spa and to the outdoor jacuzzi. Save for about a 100 pages in the middle, I was enthralled by the story and the writing. I completed the book at the airport lounge prior to departure, and it had lived up to it's hype. It was Gabriel Marquez' ode to the myriad forms of love - spurned love, unrequited love, illicit love, love at first sight, true love, love that grows and fades over time and love that cannot really be classified. I got lucky with this book - I couldn't have picked a more appropriate book for the occasion. The fact it was a literary masterpiece didn't hurt either.

Anyways, all good things end, and so did our week in paradise. I hope one day to return to this lap of luxury in the midst of the friendliest people in the world. Until then, it's back to regularly scheduled programming.

1 comment:

Krishnaja Gutta said...

Sounds wonderful- and sounds exactly like Fiji:) Need more details of the dive- looking forward to doing it sometime (hopefully soon:)

Great post btw :)