We landed in Nadi, Fiji after our 11 hour flight from San Francisco. My friends Raj and Shasheen met us at the airport with their two boys around 6am and we all went out for breakfast. The boys headed off to school and us adults took a drive into the hills to the Sabeto Hot Springs and Mud Pool. I'd been there a couple of years ago and it was really fun experiencing all the sensations again this time with my parents. My Dad was cracking us up with his disapproval and opinion that coating oneself in mud is a terrible idea.
The three of us made it to Nuku'alofa, the capital city of Tonga, that evening. I had just shy of two weeks to spend quality time with my parents, my sister Amy, my brother-in-law Toni, and my adorable and hilarious niece and nephew - 'Iva, 4 and Melino, 2. We mostly hung out at the house and enjoyed being part of the kids environment. I really enjoy watching the kids with my parents. They think the world of NaNa and PaPa. So sweet.
We got invited out on a boat ride one afternoon and went to a tiny uninhabited island close by. It was crazy picturesque. The crystal clear vivid colored water meeting up with the white sandy beach was absolutely gorgeous - almost surreal looking. The beach was covered with the coolest shells and chunks of coral I've ever seen. The island was crawling with hundreds of hermit crabs of all sizes and my nephew and his little buddy collected a bunch and held them hostage in a big hole for 'observation.'
A nice spa opened up just a couple months before I arrived last year. I got connected with the fabulous women there and we did some skills sharing and treatment trades. I also gave them some consultation and feedback. It felt really good to be in service that way and they were quite appreciative. I went back and did more of the same this year and look forward to continue nurturing this connection. They just finished creating a hair room and hope to have me be a guest stylist next year. That could be fun!
There was a parade one day celebrating something having to do with the parliament. My Dad and I walked to town and watched as groups of kids from all the schools marched in perfect time. They all wore their school uniforms and all the girls had their hair in two braids which is part of the dress code. It was a relatively quiet parade with one leader from each group calling out "left, left, left, right, left...." Every once in awhile the music from a school band marching by would fill the air. Even though it was a quiet kind of parade their was plenty of cheering from the onlookers nonetheless.
Most of the adults that were part of the parade had on traditional formal attire which usually is some sort of natural material skirt or mat wrapped around ones waist. This is everyday business attire for some people and though it does look pretty cool, it seems super uncomfortable. I do really appreciate how the Tongans keep part of their culture alive by wearing these natural handmade pieces.
My parents stayed in Tonga for a month and I traveled back home solo. I had a layover in Fiji again so my 'adopted' Fiji family picked me up again and took me to their place for a meal and visiting. The sheet was laid out on the living room floor and the delicious food was placed in the center. We all sat cross legged and ate without utensils. After being encouraged by my gracious hosts to eat more I still managed to find room for an ice cream cone.
Before we headed back to the airport Shasheen brought me into her room and gifted me with a cute dress as well as some fun sparkly jewelry. Such a sweet and generous gesture. As we said our goodbyes the boys called out "Bye Auntie!" Little did I know that the family of the taxi driver I called in Fiji two years ago would be my adopted Fijian family. Pretty special. Already looking forward to visiting my blood family and non-blood family in the South Pacific next year!