This post is part of an 8 minute memoir project that I am doing. Details found here.
I got a rush of excitement upon seeing this category! Anyone who has talked to me for more than a few minutes knows that I live for experiences and not things. Adventure, now THAT I can write about.
When I was 20, I spent a semester abroad in Australia (Bond ‘071, Holler!), which provided me with more growth, experience, and learning than 4 years of college did. A diploma is certainly great, but life experiences are so much more important in my opinion. I digress.
After 4 amazing months of doing nothing but drinking, sightseeing, and traveling around the land down undah, it was time to come back to reality. My roommate Cassie and I decided to do a stopover in Fiji on the way home. Basically, at no additional cost, Qantas airlines would leave us in Fiji for a week on an extended layover before we continued on our merry way back to the good ol’ US of A.
We acquired a travel brochure, booked a room at a resort, and were prepared to spend a week doing more drinking and sunbathing on beaches seen only in the pages of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.
Or so we thought. What we got instead was a hefty lesson in “things aren’t always as they appear”.
By the time we landed in Fiji, we probably had a collective $300 between the 2 of us. Since we were supposed to be spending a week in an all inclusive resort, we didn’t see this as an issue at the time.
Until we got to our “resort” and found it less 5 star and more crack den. Our door locked with a rusty padlock. Our beachfront view was a dirt patch with a bunch of garbage piled on it. There was blood on our sheets. A cockroach or two was seen. A pack of wild dogs barked angrily outside. That night, we piled all of our luggage in front of the door and laughed/cried the rest of the night, because obviously sleeping was out of the question.
The next morning, I walked up the road to an ACTUAL resort, and did what any reasonable person would do: I emailed my mom with the subject line “CRISIS IN FIJI”. When she didn’t respond within 5 minutes, I followed up with a collect call and explained the pickle that we found ourselves in. Mama White came to the rescue, depositing a significant amount of cash into my bank account so that we could check out of our ‘resort’ and into a place where we were less likely to be victims of human trafficking.
The next day, after re-accomodating ourselves, we went into town to explore. On our cab ride home that evening, our driver berated us for venturing out alone after dark. I vaguely recall him telling us about 2 tourists who had recently been attacked and left for dead, saying, “They were raped. Both the girl and the boy.” He emphasized again that the male tourist had also been victimized, just in case 2 naive American girls were previously unaware that a man could actually be raped. No explanation needed, dear Cabbie.
Since being raped and/or kidnapped wasn’t on our agenda, we decided it was in our best interest to rent a car. Our hotel concierge pointed us in the right direction, and we rented a SUV from a man down the road who told us “If police pull you over, say you borrow car from a friend. Be careful- I’m not insured”.
At the time it didn’t occur to me that two 20-year-old white college girls would likely NOT have any “friends” residing in Fiji from whom we could borrow this vehicle, but, semantics. We were warned not to get too lost either because in parts of Fiji, cannibalism is alive and well. (bad joke).
The rest of the trip was more or less unmemorable from that point out. We met up with some other friends, did some snorkeling, and adventuring around Fiji in our rented and possibly stolen vehicle.
I just looked at the clock and realized that I went wayyyy past my allotted 8 minutes, so I’ll wrap it up by saying that our Crisis in Fiji came with several life lessons:
1) Always, always, always read reviews before traveling somewhere.
2) When you’re in deep shit, you can invariably count on your mom to come to the rescue
3) Most often, the worst predicaments create the best memories.