As soon as we got off the boat today, we saw a bunch of locals selling various tours for different parts of the island. We enjoyed the private tour at the last island but didn’t want to spend so much, so jumped in a small van with 6 other people.
After driving for about 45 minutes on the curvy road going too fast, many people were car sick which was not a great way to start the tour. We reached our first stop which was at a resort on a nice stretch of beach. We all went our separate ways for a bit…Giff and I and one of the guides walked slowly on the sand admiring the tranquility of the ocean. There were many coconut trees along the way and Giff attempted to get them out of the tree…for the record usually someone climbs up the tree and cuts the coconuts with a knife. Giff found an old bamboo stick lying around and multiple times, heaved the stick upward launching it at the coconuts which didn’t budge.
We settled on picking a couple of coconuts that were already on the ground and took them back to the resort. They opened one for us to drink the juice before getting back in the car. We drove a bit further to a touristy outdoor mall…where vendors were selling their crafts and restaurants were hoping to get inflated prices for local cuisine. The lily pond outside of the shops was pretty but besides that, it was kind of a waste of time.
The so-called tour drove us back the 45 minutes to town where Giff and I walked around downtown Suva for a bit to browse around the area. We saw that they had a big open market so had fun walking through all the goods and taking pictures of the random piles of produce and the people selling it.
There were women outside the market selling their baked goods so we decided to try what they call bila which is their version of bread…it comes wrapped in leaves and is baked in the ground. The consistency is very starchy and chewy, we decided not to finish it as it was not so good.
Upstairs from the fruits and veggies were many vendors selling kava. Not the ready-made version we tried in Vanuatu but the actual root of the plant. They not only had the roots which are purchased by the bundles, but they also had the powder which is already ground from the root and sold in a paper bag. We had a good time at one of the stalls as he explained how to make it properly and that you cannot have too much the way you could have too many drinks (not sure that is true). He equipped us with a half coconut shell which is what they traditionally use to sip the drink, the ground powder and a thin cloth. Basically, you put the ground powder into the cloth, fill a bowl with water and then keep squeezing the ball of powder until the water looks like mud. Then you dip the coconut shell into the kava and drink the bowl quickly before handing it to the next person in the group. We bought it thinking it would be fun at some point. He also showed us the pure tobacco he had which literally came off the farm, but of course we were not interested…for smokers this was the real stuff…no chemicals.
We walked back to our ship with our bag of kava, freshened up and had dinner in the formal dining room.
Published by Giff Kabat
I grew up in Ohio as a kid, so of course I went to college at “THE” Ohio State University. I graduated in 2001 with a major in business finance. A month after graduation, I moved out to California with my college girlfriend (whom I married in 2005)…and started my career in sales (industrial sales for 5 years…then moved into medical laser sales for 4 years).
In 2009 I was 31 years old. I had a great job, a new house, and a beautiful wife. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better…my wife and I found out we were going to have a baby. Everything was going according to plan…and I couldn’t have scripted a better life for myself.
Then in the same year…everything changed. My wife, Brandey, called me when I was on my way to work and told me over the phone, something I never thought could be possible in a million years. My beautiful 30-year old pregnant wife was just told that she had breast cancer. At that moment, everything stopped all at once. I immediately went to her…and learned of our new plan…which began with her needing surgery immediately…and the rest we would find out later.
The day we returned from the hospital after Brandey’s surgery…my father died. He had been battling an aggressive cancer of his own…and although he was the one person I wanted to speak with about Brandey having cancer…I never told him. My sister, Brooke, had just gotten married a few months ago, and although he was weak, he was able to walk his little girl down the aisle of her wedding. On the night before my sister’s wedding, Brandey and I told him that we were pregnant and about to make him a grandfather. It made no sense to tell him that everything had changed for us…so he died in peace knowing everything was “the way it should be” for his only 2 children.
2010 was the worst year of my life. We had lost our baby…and for 12 months I watched my wife fight cancer with multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and drug therapy. It was a difficult year for us…but we made it. When you go through something like this in life, you learn a lot about yourself and the people around you. I was amazed at the strength and courage of my wife…and how many good people there are in this world. I will be forever grateful for the ones who never ceased to amaze me with their kindness during this hard time. Family, friends, and sometimes complete strangers…helped us make it through this. I am, and will always be especially grateful to my mother, who was with my dad at the very end, when I couldn’t be there, and when things were at their worst. She has been so supportive throughout all of this, and without her everything would have been so much harder for me.
It’s 2011 now…and the plan we have for our life this year…is to make it the best year of our lives. Brandey is officially in remission from breast cancer and she has a 95% chance the cancer will never come back. Besides the love that I have for my wife and family, the loves of my life are food, wine, and adventure travel. My wife and I love traveling to new places, seeing natural wonders, and meeting new people from different parts of the world. So for the next 400 days…we’ve decided to travel the world…and celebrate our lives. There are so many things I took for granted in life that I will never take for granted again. My father worked for over 30 years at the same job with the same company…rarely took time off…and died at 64 years old right after his retirement. For me, this trip is a combination of a tribute to him, along with wanting to spend the time of my life with the “love of my life.”
* The only thing I will miss while we are gone is our family and friends (who we hope will meet us somewhere throughout our trip) and especially our 3 little kitties we left with my mom in Ohio to catsit for the next 400 days. I will also miss watching “American Football” over the weekend…but I’ll do my best to check the scores in the middle of the night.
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