This past weekend I had to get out of Suva. I was really feeling like we just had to get out of town. We made plans early in the week to check out an eco-resort we've heard great things about. The day before we were supposed to leave, the manager told me that they had no room for us (even though I thought we had already made reservations early in the week) and hung up on me twice. It was silly, but I almost started crying because I was so looking forward to just getting away. Lucky for us, we live in Fiji and there are so many options here! Warren saved the day and booked us a bure at Beqa Lagoon Resort.
The girls and I left Friday morning for our weekend getaway, with plans for Warren to meet us after he got off work on Friday night. (I know, I am a terrible mom for taking them out of school on a Friday. I strongly believe in education and know that every day counts....but I also believe that on rare occasions, kids deserve a mental health day too! I only do that maybe twice a year). We drove 45 minutes to Pacific Harbour to meet the boat that would carry us to Beqa (pronounced Benga) island. We got there right on time at 9:30 am, but like so many things in Fiji...the boat was delayed and we didn't leave until around 10:30. I've gotten really good at waiting here. Once we started our voyage across the ocean, I immediately wished I had put the girls' life jackets on. Why didn't I think about that beforehand? Once we started, the life jackets were already packed away under other bags...so I just held on tight. The ride was CHOPPY! On the way over, one of the other 2 passengers told me she had seen a whale that morning on the ride. It would have been cool to see a whale, but I just wanted us to get to the island safely and without vomiting.
Once we arrived, we were greeted with a welcome song by the staff and beautiful flower necklaces. The girls had the whole run of the resort because most of the guests were out on a dive. At this particular resort, almost all of the guests leave every morning for a dive and return at lunch time. It makes the mornings feel quiet and peaceful if you are not one of the ones diving. We went to check out our room and were very impressed. It overlooked the ocean and there were two bedrooms with loads of space.
|Zoe checking out the island as we pulled up on the boat. This was probably the only time she wasn't clinging to me on the boat ride. She's still terrified of boats and sharks.
|The view from our room. Girls checking out the ocean.
About an hour into their play, I heard all of the children asking Andie how to spell her name. They were each writing Andie's name on the beach in the sand and then filling it with shells. I am sure Andie felt famous. The kids get SO much attention here and such special treatment. I don't know how they will adjust to just being normal kids when they return to the states. The Fijians treat them like royalty sometimes. It scares me that they are becoming so spoiled. I love to see them happy...but I am constantly reminding them to treat everyone with kindness. I almost fainted when Zoe asked me if the people who work at the hotel are our servants? She truly believes she is a princess with servants. Trouble...
|Andie playing with local children
|Zoe counting shells
|looking for shells
|The kids writing Andie's name in the sand
|Zoe's 75 shells
|They all worked on this sea horse together
|Proof that the sun was shining at least on our first day there!
|This child loves a hammock!
After the children left the beach, we wandered over to the cooking demonstration of kokoda, my favorite Fijian dish, similar to ceviche. Of course, Andie chimed right in with the teacher telling everyone she knows how to make this. He let her take over the show. I kept calling to her to step back, but when she has her mind on something...she is determined. I was just sitting there hoping she had semi-clean hands as she squeezed the coconut for coconut milk. I am sure everyone else was thinking the same thing as they noticed her runny nose. It's probably why half of the group didn't sample the dish. Oops.
I sampled the kokoda though, and it was good...despite her booger hands. It was weird to hear all of the American accents at the resort. This resort has an office in Las Vegas so the majority of it's guests were American divers. Things were listed in Fijian and US dollars. So not what we are used to!
|Here the girls are getting catered to again as one of the staff makes them baskets our of coconut leaves.
While we waited for Warren to get off of the boat, the girls and I chatted with a couple of Americans from Seattle. They sipped on mocktails while I sipped on a cocktail. The guys we spoke with had spent the week diving at the resort. At one point, one of them told the girls he was really happy he met them... commenting on how full of life they are and how refreshing it was to talk with them. For a moment I saw them through his eyes and I just felt incredibly blessed to have them right there in that moment, with the sunset and the ocean and at their exact ages and their innocence.
After a while, they started asking the same guy some quite personal questions and he told them it was a bit too personal and making him sad. It was quiet for a moment and then the other guy (single, without kids) tried to break the awkward moment and asked my girls, "So, how many hot chicks do you think will be on the boat?" They started at him blankly, probably thinking of chickens. It's so funny what a different mindset you are in when you are not around kids regularly. We all bust out laughing and moments later Warren rolled in on the boat.
That night we got to watch the local villagers walk on burning hot coals that had been cooking all day. I actually missed the whole event because I was frantically searching the entire resort grounds for Zoe's missing blankie. I FINALLY found it and came back to Andie posing for a picture with the villagers. But, from what the family said, it was pretty remarkable to see.
The next day, Saturday, was cloudy but we made the most of it. We spent the morning relaxing, shell and star-fish hunting and Warren and Andie went snorkeling. While Warren was snorkeling, he saw a shark!!! It was very close to the shore, about as long as he is, and only about 10 feet away from him! He swam as fast as he could out of the water and ran into the dive shop. He asked the workers if he was safe with the shark and they laughed at him, insuring him it was no big deal. It turns out he saw a white tipped reef shark and apparently they rarely attack humans. They appear to be harmless. For me...rarely...is too much! I stayed out of the water. I am a huge chicken when it comes to those things....but Warren went back in and took Andie. She got cold so quickly got out, but after she got out, Warren saw the shark again! He called out to some other snorkelers and they just sort of shrugged, acknowledging him....but clearly thinking it was no big deal. Well, it may be no big deal to them, but to us it was!
We also received free foot massages in the morning. The girls are 5 and 7 and here they are...getting their feet massaged! It seemed ridiculous, but they loved it as much as we did. Andie now wants to give me foot massages regularly, so it paid off! Our foot massages were so good, we had to sign up for massages later in the day. They massage therapists said they could arrange for someone to hang out with the girls so Warren and I could get our massages at the same time.
While the girls got their nails painted, Warren and I had 90 minute massages in a private hut overlooking the ocean. It was AMAZING. I got the hot stone massage since it has been so rainy and cold here lately (cold being in the low 70's) and Warren got the signature massage. I think it may be one of the best massages I've ever gotten! Hot stone is the way to go on rainy, dreary days. I want to go back there just for this massage again. It was definitely the highlight of my weekend. I feel relaxed just thinking about it.
|Andie attempted to swim again but lasted only about 5 minutes.
|Enjoying some hot cocoa and the view
|Andie was very proud of her starfish. Pretty cool.
|card games on our porch
|"Ace, oh ya!"
|The whole morning wasn't card games. Those two specks out there are the girls looking for shells in the rain.
|Andie got to bong the drums to alert everyone to lunch time.
|Goodbye Beqa. Until next time...
|The boat captain let Andie help him park the boat. Again...spoiled!
Aww.....Suva weather. Thank goodness for weekends away, good friends, and family!