fiji time

I wake up to the sounds of waves lapping against the sand. The water’s edge is less than fifty paces from me: Orlando has moved our bed to the doors of our bure so that I can be lulled to sleep and then awakened by the sea.

I put the kettle on, slip on a swimsuit. Outside on our little verandah all is peaceful at seven in the morning. I stare out to sea and marvel yet again at the vivid blues of the water and the sky. The tide is out: our little strand is there again. I will go for a beachcombing stroll later.

The workers arrive by boat from the other islands round about. The dive hut guy paddles out to the tin boat with the fuel tank. I hear the sound of children in the distance. The resort is finally stirring.

At breakfast, we read the day’s newsletter and wonder if we will have the energy to try sulu (sarong) wearing or maybe a bushwalk to the top of our volcanic island home. Probably not.

Just before ten, at some unseen signal John goes to the drum on the terrace, beats out a rhythm and shouts “Boat has come!” I peer at the horizon but I cannot see anything. Moments later, the tourist boat comes into view at the edge of our island. We wait to see who is new and who is departing. The staff line up on the steps, playing guitars and singing farewell to some and welcome to others. It seems like weeks ago that we were the new arrivals.

It is almost time for a dip. I take my snorkel and mask, pick up some fins at the dive hut. The water is a warm twenty-six degrees and the sand is sparkling white. As soon as I dip my face in the water I am surrounded by damsel fish. Some of them nibble at my arms because I have not brought bread for them.

Further out, the reef drops at a fifteen-metre cliff. The coral is spectacular and the fish plentiful. Far beneath me I can see the outlandish crown of thorns starfish that have infested these waters. The day before, I dived this reef and came face to face with a turtle. I wish I was equipped with a tank and regulator instead of my simple snorkel.

Later, after a lazy massage in the spa, it is time for a cocktail. We wander over to the bar. I have a Mai Tai and “Mister Orlando” has his usual Orlando Iced Tea – a Long Island Iced Tea with cranberry juice instead of Coke. The guys play their guitars and sing the songs heard all over the world in resort lounges. Hotel California, predictably, is translated to Hotel Amunuca. I wonder why a beautiful Fijian traditional song sounds so familiar until I realise it is the Stevie Wonder song “Lately” sung in island style. The clock on the wall has no arms, just a blank face of numbers. We are on Fiji time.

Dinner is a relaxed affair. John has our usual “front row” table for us, overlooking the water and our neighbouring islands in the distance. All this fresh air is killing me: I can hardly keep my eyes open past ten at night. We stroll back to our bure, arm in arm. I fall asleep to the sound of the waves again. Another day in paradise.


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