First Draft – Monday 23rd April 2018
The Positives :
As I sit on the beach in Nadi Bay on the largest Fijian island of Vitu Levu, my emotions are hugely mixed. This evening I am heading home. No not my Fijian home, but my real home in a small village in the Scottish Highlands. A last run along the beach this morning only made me feel a deeper sadness that I would be leaving this small piece of paradise. The sun is shining as brightly as ever through the numerous palm trees and across the blue Pacific Ocean as though the weather gods our rubbing in the fact that I will leave all of this behind in a few hours.
However, I like to think I’m optimist by Scottish standards at the very least. Therefore I want to first list the obvious positives of heading home. One is probably the most obvious, being that I miss my family and closest friends, having not seen or really heard from them for two months now. It will be great to catch up with them and make them feel jealous as I flaunt my healthy tan and blonde hair. I realise these will fade quickly so I’ll actually keep the flaunting to a minimum I think.
It will also be great to return to sunny Braemar, my home village of around 450 people with a real community spirit which could perhaps be compared to the attitudes of Fijians towards the importance of community. It would be churlish to not admit that I have felt a degree of homesickness during the last two months.
As I’ve often said being Scottish is almost a disease. During the cold long winters and following cool, wet summers that we experience I’ll often be desperate to get away to a warmer climate. However, a week away and you suddenly miss Scotland and can have moments where you are desperate to return to the home nation and have to wear layers most days.
I have also of course had a truly amazing experience which I can take back with me and treasure for the rest of my life. It is by a long shot the best thing I have ever done and I would have laughed if someone had suggested I would have ended up in Fiji six months ago. This journey half way across the globe fulfilled my overall aim. To extend my comfort zone to the absolute limit.
During my time here I have learnt a huge amount about Fiji, its culture and its people. Not giving these islands another visit doesn’t feel like it should be an option for me. Although, lets not forget I have many things to look forward to when I return home. I am lucky enough to be returning to my job as a part-time dishwasher and hopefully have a university place lined up.
On the other hand, there was a feeling of great sadness as I packed up my suitcase for the last time this morning. The colourful people, the wonderful school students, the postcard perfect beaches, fellow travellers/volunteers and the “Vinaka Fiji” team will be greatly missed.
While reflecting on my time in the Yasawa Islands it is tempting to go into great detail about the sand, sea and sun. However, you probably know these things about Fiji already. No I would rather write about what well and truly makes Fiji such a wonderful place, the people. Their overall hospitality, kindness, laughter, attitude and happiness are unlike anything I have ever come across.
In many ways they have made me consider my attitude towards life and the importance of their resilience, especially in the face of worsening cyclones. Most locals to the Yasawa Islands live a much simpler, less stressful life to us. An existence which is seemingly a lot less centred on the importance of materialism.
I also know it will likely be a long time until I get another opportunity to travel to this part of the world. Maybe I will return one day when I am a little older or perhaps I will have to wait until I am much older. Whatever happens I still have hope I’ll be back on these sun kissed beaches.
At 6.15 pm I start my mammoth journey home. A mini-adventure in itself perhaps, but one I hope isn’t too adventurous. If I make it home (fingers crossed) it will be back to the norm, if there is such a thing. Maybe it won’t feel normal though and it will take time to adapt to Scottish rural life again. I’m not too worried though. If I can travel to the other side of the world solo, then surely I’ll be able to wash some dishes and then roll up at a university less than 150 miles from home. Now how do airports work again?