Monday, June 29, 2015

10 hot shots


This is our music video Jacob, Lucy and I made. It was really fun and basically summarized our trip. Hit up with dat like and subscribe.

Smugglers Cove/ Peace Fiji!

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!

Mango Bay

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

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
Group pic

Me, Jonny, Jacob

Rainbow in the village

Bff leone

me, Leila, and jacob

me and wicky

good friend Leone

me, Rocko, Leila, and Leone

Meg pis asleep before we took awesome sunrise pics

farewell song 

me and jacobs big rock 

hard work

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

Tovu Tovu

Tovutovu defiantly feels like home. The owner, Alan, and his family have took us in as part of their own. The waitress is also named Elizabeth so that automatically makes her the coolest person ever. I'm not much of an egg eater, actually I rarely eat eggs and if I do its an omelette covered in hot sauce. But the eggs here are SOOO good! I don't know if its because they are fresh or something but whatever it is is really good. On the first full day we woke up around 6:30, ate, and had a meeting where we discussed Fijian vocabulary. There was like 20 vocab words but all I manage to get out of the meeting was Bula(hello) and vinaka(thank you). We then decided to ditch the plans for the day and go to an annul rugby tournament that is held. It was awesome. There were around 500 people there full of rugby spirit. This was my first real time shooting on manual and believe me its the most complicated thing ever. I really didn't know anything about photography before this trip, I didn't even know manual was a thing. I know have grown so much respect for photographers. After rugby we attempted to go to the national park to see waterfalls but after we had already driven like an hour we had to turn around because the road was flooded. On the way back we went to the sulu store. A sulu is a traditional Fijian skirt that women wear all the time and men on special occasion in the village. I bought 2, one cute and one for working in. For dinner we went to this really nice resort. When we arrived men were already sitting in a circle waiting for us so we could have our 1st Kava ceremony. I had heard a lot about Kava and Bora and I were really excited. Kava is a Fijian drink and its really hard to explain so heres a wikipedia link I drank a lot of high tides but shotout to Claire Siroky for never stopping. She would always put her hand up everytime the guy asked who wants more. The fish was really good. Alex Long tried to slide the fact that he can play the harmonica in the convo and I caught what he was doing and told the men he could play. Of course he had it with him and he was forced to play it. He busted out Hey Jude, I think Overall the night was great and I got to get to know my fellow travelers really well. The next day was probably the best day of my life. We went to Allen's family's church. The sermon was amazing. I remember thinking during the service how awesome it was that people on the other side of the world sing the same songs as my church does. Its just incredible. The minister talked about if people ask who you are the answer is "I'm the son of god!". That guy was awesome. We then went to the waterfalls which was the coolest thing Ive done. I goproed the first waterfall. It was beautiful. These medical missionaries were there too and they were climbing up the waterfall and jumping off and  it looked so fun. We all climbed up there which was actually such a dangerous climb. Thats when I started getting cuts that turned into infection later. So we got to the top and we were about to jump then Lisa came running after us and told us its too dangerous to jump and if someone got hurt a helicopter wouldn't be able to land. We were all pissed. The walk down was defiantly way more dangerous the jumping down. Whatever the waterfall was still sick. To get to the next waterfall we would have to take a 5 mile hike. It was raining and I had already ate it 2 times. I'm not a clumsy person I just kind of don't pay attention to my feet. The first time I fell it was hilarious. I was midway saying "roughing it in Fiji" to my go pro and completely ate poop. Meghan and Chase couldn't stop laughing. It was funny though. The 2nd time was not funny. It was raining and I was attempting to interview Alex Cooper and rolled my ankle really bad. Everyone say including my go pro. It hurt so bad. I have a weak ankle so this happens a lot but I really didn't feel like going on the 5 mile hike. Lisa gave us th option to stay back and not go and Ms. Simon, Ms. Hartman, and Alex C decided to stay. I was really thinking about staying but then I was like Im in freaking Fiji and I don't want to miss out on anything I need to toughen up. I'm so glad I went. The hike was soooooooooo fun! Jacob and I walked together and sang beyonce with Angie, a villager. It was awesome. On the way Jacob started running down a wet hill so of course I did too and we both completely ate it, again recorded on go pro. We got to the waterfall and it was beautiful. You have to swim up current to get to it and it was a tough swim. We got there and it was awesome. Overall I loved this day and the hike. This was also the day we started making the music video. I also had a pretty interested dinner with Jamison. I don't think Ive ever had so much fun. This was the day I realized how much I love Fiji and how incredible that I got to go here. The rest of the days at Tovutovu were chill. I worked on photography and before we knew it we were off the village.

Church service
dinner @ resort

kids at rugby

waterfall hike

me and Jamison goofing off

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Day 1 - BULA FIJI!

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 ( 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 (!/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*