Updated: Feb 13, 2019
When you think of Fiji, immediately what comes to mind? For my husband and me, it was “a tropical, beachy, relaxing vacation”. Is that what came to mind for you, too? Most likely, yes. We even did a Google search, and that’s exactly what came up.
“Fiji in April” we searched. “April-May and November-December are the BEST times to go to Fiji” is what we read.
”Perfect,” we thought. We were heading to Australia for Carlos’s brother’s wedding anyway, so why not make a pit stop on the relaxing, tropical island of Fiji, right? The plan was: spend a few days in Fiji, fly to Sydney to meet up with Carlos’s family, the next morning we all fly to Melbourne and stay there for a night, then fly back to Sydney the following day. Great plan.
To be honest, my husband wanted to go to New Zealand, but we never go to beach places. And I love beach vacations, so I made the call of going to Fiji. Whoops...
A week or so before the trip, we checked the weather forecast. What do you know, it’s supposed to rain the ENTIRE time we’re there. We didn’t stress it too much, because this has happened to us before. The forecast says it’s supposed to rain, but it doesn’t end up raining. We figured the tides would change as it got closer.
The day before... the forecast still said it’s supposed to rain. Well, there’s nothing we can do now. We came to terms with the fact that it would rain. Yet, we still had hope we would have at least one sunny day.
The day arrived where we landed in Fiji. It was really humid, but no rain yet. “Hey, we might get lucky after all.” That quickly changed. It rained a little, but it let up after a couple hours, so we decided to hit the pool. The pool overlooked the ocean, and it had a little basketball net, so Carlos being the avid sports guy was loving it. The resort was really nice; we got to explore it a little bit, and eat some pizza from the little restaurant.
We tried to make the most of our few days there, despite the situation, and we even got a couples massage. The day before we were supposed to fly out, we heard from the resort staff that there was going to be a cyclone the following day. Meaning all of the flights for that day were going to be canceled. We scrambled calling the airline, trying to get a flight to Sydney for that night, because remember we had to catch a flight to Melbourne the day after. No luck, nothing was available. “Well now what?”
While we were trying to make arrangements to get out of Fiji, the whole resort was preparing for lockdown, to be in effect at 9pm. They sent letters out to all of the guests to remind them to grab food now for the next day, because no one would be working during the cyclone. We couldn’t be bothered to do that, because A.) We were trying to get out of there, and B.) I’m from Florida, and a cyclone is basically a hurricane. And we Floridians really don’t take hurricanes seriously. We‘re out there swimming in the flooded streets, hitching boogey boards to the back of pick-up trucks, and trying to see if the wind can send us flying.
After nearly $1,000 worth of international phone calls, (we fought it, don’t worry) we managed to change our flight to go straight from Fiji to Melbourne instead, because we would miss our initial flight there from Sydney. 9pm hit and we realized we didn’t have food for the next day. We went to sleep hoping the next day would not be as bad as everyone was claiming it to be. Wrong again. This cyclone was no joke. It was windy and pouring outside, and we were starving. We went back and forth from trying to sleep to curb our hunger, and watching Disney movies. We had a bag of dried mangos from Trader Joe’s, and 2 bottles of water. We literally had to ration our supplies. We sucked on those mangos like they were lifesavers. Pun intended.
The entire day went by, and we were out of supplies. 5pm came around and the rain finally let up a little. We heard faint voices coming from outside. When we looked, we saw workers driving golf carts. PRAISE GOD! We quickly ran out of our room and ran to the front desk. Thankfully there were a couple workers there. We asked them what we should do now, since our checkout was earlier that day, but our flight was postponed until the next day. They proceeded to tell us that we would have to pay for another day if we stayed.
At this point we were so hungry, food was more important to us than a place to sleep. So we decided to take our chances and head to the airport. We figured we could get some food there and sleep on the chairs or something. We’ve been in worse situations. We caught the bus to the airport; lo and behold, everything was closed. The airport itself was opened, but there were no airline workers, and worst of all NO PLACE TO GET FOOD.
I forgot to mention this earlier, but we had no service in Fiji, because it’s $15 a GB, so we just connected to wifi. The airport only gives you 30 minutes of free wifi, per device. The first day we arrived in Fiji, we both had used our free 30 minutes. Thankfully I had my iPad with me, so I signed on to find a cheap hotel. We found a “home stay”, which is like an AirBNB. It was pretty cheap, and we figured they would have food nearby. I took screen shots of the walking directions, and we went on our way. You probably think the story is over, “Wow! What a day you guys had! Thank God it’s over. You got to your home stay, and fell fast asleep.” Sorry. The story is only just beginning.
As soon as we left the airport, we didn’t have wifi any longer, and by that time it was already dark. Unbeknownst to us, Fiji is basically a third world country. Outside of those beautiful beach resorts, it is filled with dirt roads, and very little street lights. It’s not what you imagine. So here we were, dragging our suitcases down the now muddy roads, in the pitch black, trying to find a home stay that we think might not be real. We walked for about an hour trying to find this place, even knocking on doors for help. Nothing. Now we were convinced this place didn’t actually exist. I was on the verge of tears by now.
I went and knocked on the door of a place I thought might be it, when a big truck came and pulled up next to Carlos. The guy gets out and offers to help. Now I’ve seen Hostel and all of those scary movies, so at first I’m a little apprehensive. He told us that he could take us to our home stay. Carlos and I shoot each other a look, we notice his pregnant wife in the truck, decide to trust our discernment, and hop in. They drove us to our place and we got out. Come to find out, the room was already booked in person, but because of the cyclone they had no internet. We were standing there trying to figure out what to do, when the guy comes back over to us and offers us to stay at his house. He tells us the place is small, but offers up their bed. Of course we weren’t going to take a pregnant woman’s bed, so after much consideration (honestly, like 20 seconds) we accepted the offer to sleep on a mattress on the ground.
When we got back to their place, it truly was small. They had a kitchen, about the size of the mattress we slept on, a bathroom, and a small bedroom. It was hot and humid from all the rain, and of course that brought out all the mosquitoes. Lucky for me, they seemed to favor Carlos’s blood over mine. There was no air conditioning, but the shower water was freezing. The wife offered to make us food, because we had told them our story on the ride over. She made us grilled cheese sandwiches, and we sat on the kitchen floor and talked. We talked about life, talked about family, and talked about God. Funny enough, the wife was craving juice, so they just happened to be driving to the store when they came across us on the road. How crazy. One little craving for something as simple as juice, led them to be our life savers!
The next morning when we woke up, she made us breakfast. They had a loaf of bread, 3 eggs, a package of this meat that was comparable to salami, and sliced cheese. They literally gave up all they had. Isn’t it interesting how those that have less, give more? He even came home from work on his lunch break to drive us to the airport. The generosity was unreal. If only everyone could live like that with open hands. Everything we have is a gift from God, anyway.
We made sure to connect on Facebook, and now we’re pleased to say they have a beautiful baby girl! Thank you Ahmed and Lois for saving us that night! Only God knows what would have happened if you hadn’t of come along!
Don’t go judging us now, or thinking we’re crazy. Yes, it might have been a little crazy to accept a ride from a stranger in a foreign country in the first place, and THEN accept an offer to go home with them... but, we did what we had to do. And we’re alive to tell this amazing story. I’m convinced that the reason we went to Fiji was for that divine moment. God really can turn ANY situation into good.
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