Monday, June 29, 2015
Smugglers Cove was also chill. We arrived and went to what Brett called a "real Fijian restaurant", which was just a chinese restaurant. I didn't mind though because the fried rice was amazing. We chilled that night and attempted to go to bed but there was 2 random girls in our room. We walked in there and they had moved meghans stuff and were in her bed. We didn't say anything to them, we stared at them awkwardly and they stared at us awkwardly.The hotel kicked them out so it was all good. The next day we went to yet another village, which personally I thought it was a tourist attraction. The Kava ceremony at 11 am seemed a little staged and gave the vibe they have these daily with tourists. The village was really pretty though, I got great shots. We hiked up to a "waterfall". It was a waterfall but we were just so spoiled from the other waterfalls on Taveuni. We then went to a mud bath/hotsprings. That was really fun. We all attacked each other with mud and took great pics. Before you get in the hot spring you have to wash off in this other spring thing and the bottom of that felt so gross. The hot spring was nice. The next day was our day of departure but we weren't leaving until 9 at night so we drove an hour to go surfing. I was tired so I didn't surf but it was still entertaining to watch everyone else in the group fail. Jacob was carrying his board on the sand and his rope thing that attached to the ankle got all tangled and he completely ate it. It was hilarious. We went back to smugglers, showered, and then headed to the airport. On this ride I guess I thought it would be cool to stick my head out the window on snapchat and say bye to Fiji. I realized how big of an idiot I was when my glasses flew off. But if my dad asks, I "gave them to a fijian kid that couldn't see and tried them on and now he can see the world". Hope my dad doesn't read this. We had to say goodbye to Brett because he was staying gin Fiji. It was sad but I got a pic with him and he looks so hot so we are all good. The flight to LA wasn't painful at all because I slept most of the way and when I wasn't Meghan and I were in the back "stretching" with the flight attendant. That was fun. The flight to Houston was pretty good too. Finally I was home. Overall, Fiji was the coolest trip I've ever been on. I highly recommend anybody to go on a National Geographic trip. I had the best time of my life so far and experienced so much. I made great friends for life. I'm sitting at homeright now, its 5 am, writing this blog thats due at 9:30 and I haven't even started my final exam phonebook. But anyway I'm just thinking about how this trip has changed me. I hope to keep that change and not let time cause my new knowledge to drift away. I'm going to kept in contact with the villagers that changed my life so much. I really miss Fiji and I really miss everyone there. I really enjoyed the trip and so glad I had the oppurtunity. I've been in Houston 3 days and I'm already so bored. Yeah I went to Fiji while you sat in Houston bored off your butt. I love you Fiji!
The days at Mango Bay were chill. We realaxed on the 1st day. Even though we were in a nice hotel, I really missed the village. We did a photo critic. Ulla, a very talented German nat geo photographer, arrived. She's awesome. We went to a village and saw the school. The experience just wasn't the same as the first village. We only were there for like 2 hours. It didn't give us enough time for us to actually develop relationships with the people. The school was fun. The headmaster was a cool dude, he let us use his toilet in his own home. We went to a private island where we hung out, played volleyball, and snorkeled. It was pretty fun. I didn't like the fact that at Mango Bay if you wanted to do anything fun, you had to pay for it yourself. That kinda sucked. But I forgave them because they had free wifi. Mango Bay was pretty fun. We left and headed back to the city on a bus ride for 2 hours.
The village was defiantly the coolest experience ever. After not having hot water at Tovutovu I thought I was really roughing it. I was so wrong. When we got to the village we were warmly welcomed with a Kava ceremony and this awesome dance screaming thing. I was I recorded it, it was so cool. Us girls slept in Angies house on our mats. I remember the 1st night I had to pee so bad around 1 am and I was too scared to go to the restroom. I held it until 4 when Lucy got up to pee. I never had to pee so bad. The villagers we so nice and it was awesome to develop personal connections with them. Immedialty hit it off with Wicky. I would guess he's in his late twenties. He is the chiefs step son and is a really good man. He took Chase and I on this tour thing and told us his story. He cut us fruit and just took us in like his family. He explained so much history of the village. Later in the week he took us to the village farm and taught us how to grow Kava. He is also hilarious. If he was American I feel like he would be a talkshow host like Jimmy Fallon. Playing with the kids in the village was awesome. Me and Jacob immediately connected with this crazy little boy named Johnny. He has a little bully sidekick named Henry. Henry was so annoying. Johnny was a little angel and if we gave his attention Henry would hit us and basically be a brat. Johnny stood up for us and beat up Henry. He protected us like we were his siblings. That touched my heart. Everyone in the village was so nice. We worked on a community center with them. All the men are in amazing shape. Its crazy. They are all ripped. They are great workers. They did everything 20x faster than us. Even the 10 year olds are ripped. In the village, my photography really improved. Staying in the village enlightened me, I now appreciate what I have so much and realize that materialistic things aren't important at all. These people taught me so much and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to stay with them. They have so little but are so happy. They are nice to everyone anyway. They are all living in filth and many of them have illnesses but I never heard 1 complaint come out of there mouth. I want to take what I learned from them and apply it to my own life. We live in such a bs life in memorial and I want to change that for myself. I really became a better person because of these people. The village stay was the dirtiest place I've ever stayed in but that didn't matter. I got really bad infections on my feet but that didn't matter. What mattered is the relationships I established with the villagers and the things I learned from them. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to come to Fiji and stay with them. When we left the village it was very emotional. Not a single person wasn't crying. It was incredible to see how not only did they touch our lives but we also touched theirs. They sang us the traditional Fijian farewell song and all of the villagers we in tears. It brings me to tears writing this. The saddest thing was seeing the 12 year old, Val, cry. He was such a tough little boy and he was trying to not cry but he just couldn't stop. He looked like a little boy who's mother just died. It was so sad but so incredible at the same time. I really really really recommend everyone to go and stay in a place like this. It will change your life forever. This experience changed my life forever.
me and my friends goofing off
Our friend Johnny! His voice is amazing. So raspy
Me, Jonny, Jacob
Rainbow in the village
me, Leila, and jacob
me and wicky
good friend Leone
me, Rocko, Leila, and Leone
Meg pis asleep before we took awesome sunrise pics
me and jacobs big rock
jacob got asked to dance by a man in a dress: funniest thing ever
last night dance part
accomplishment for getting our big rock after an hour
volleyball in the village: Fijians are so good at volleyball its crazy
dinner @ resort
kids at rugby
me and Jamison goofing off
Saturday, June 20, 2015
After long days of travel, and being the only person on the plane who didn't sleep on the 10 hour flight, we finally arrived in Nadi, Fiji. Some of the group immediately had to go on the next plane to Taveuni while others, including myself, had to wait in Nadi for a couple hours for the next flight. While waiting, we went to Smugglers Cove hotel and hung out. Within the first seconds I was on the beach, a 70 year old Fijian man approached me and was claiming he could climb coconut trees. Media and I watched him climb up the huge coconut tree and chop some down for us. His name was Johnny the coconut guy, we took great pics with him. After eating lunch there we headed back to the airport and flew on the smallest plane I’ve ever been on to the other island. The flight was really scary. It was very windy and they even had to weigh us and our bags before in order to balance the plane. On the ride I sat next to Bora, one of the most funny guys Ive ever met. He fell asleep during the plane but before we took off he told me how scared he was of crashing. When we were landing I woke him up and pointed down and said “going down”. I guess he thought we were crashing and his face was priceless. After laughing so hard at the small little airport (aka shack) we headed to our “resort”, Tovutovu. We all got put into little bungalows. The bungalow I shared with Alex, Mariam, Madiha, and Katie was defiantly the nicest out of them all. We were the only ones who had hot water, a wash machine, and a lot of space. After settling and getting to know the Nat Geo leaders, Brett and Lisa, we were orientated in and ate dinner. Brett (http://www.brettmonroegarner.com) is a 27 Californian who has a masters in Marine Biology and is a great photographer. First looking at Brett I immediately thought the trip would be fun because we just got to look at him. He is basically a traveling Hobo, but a very attractive traveling hobo. Lisa (http://www.lisahornak.com/#!/about) is 33 and is a very successful photojournalist from the east cost. She also teaches yoga and is in amazing shape. She seems very energetic and an awesome person. Overall, this trip looks like a great experience and from looking at it now I’m very excited to learn from the Nat Geo leaders and hopefully become a great photographer.
*fyi on my blog posts I'll prob include some iPhone pics of the day*