Sometimes events come along that change your course, that tune you to a different frequency; things that feel, actually, life shifting. It seems like so many of those pivot moments in my life have come from travel.
I haven’t been overseas in a long while – almost 8 years. A lot can change in 8 years, but as I remember from short stints of solo travel in the past, I don’t like it one bit. I’m a social creature. I understand the value of alone time, but in short periods, like three hours is just fine, thank you very much.
So when, a week before my adventure with a friend to Fiji, she had to cancel, I panicked on several levels.
Of course first, I tried to get my boyfriend a ticket. We have been fairly attached at the hip for the last 3 years. Annoying to some, perhaps, but I think it’s delightful. So it caused me some distress when in fact he could NOT find a ticket for less than $3000 at the last minute, and besides, who would take care of the dogs and the chickens and our little ranch?
I asked my mother. She said she'd rater come visit San Diego. I asked several friends. They couldn’t afford the last minute expensive ticket either. And then I landed hard on the fact that I could either cancel the trip, or go it alone.
I suppose it’s obvious you probably wouldn’t be reading this post had I NOT gone...
“GUYS, great story: last week I stayed home and did everything I normally do!”
Or, “GUYS, last week, I went to Fiji, solo!”
I realize this isn’t a big deal for some people who by choice or by circumstance have traveled alone frequently. But for me, it was a bigfuckingdeal. Or at least I realized it was a bigfuckingdeal once I got to the train station and began to sob uncontrollable-tears into my boyfriend’s t-shirt. And he didn’t help with the “holy shit! I can’t believe you are flying across the ocean to a tiny speck of land completely alone!”
I pulled up my big-girl panties. I took a Xanax. I called James 4 times on the 3 hour train ride to LAX. And then I shut my phone off and boarded a flight to Fiji.
(At this point I would like to thank Sarah for changing my life in about a hundred ways in the last few months, but most importantly by supplying me with Xanax and noise-cancelling headphones for my overnight flight. These items are ESSENTIAL.) I slept 9 hours and awoke, rested, and panic-less in the South Pacific.
It was dark in Nadi when we landed, but I woke right up when I stepped off the plane. The familiar density of humid tropical air, the chirp of a thousand birds in the pre-dawn light, the tingle of my skin in unfamiliar territory to be explored… so good.
Then I transferred to the domestic terminal and I saw the small plane we were boarding to the next stop. I’m not a fan of flying – I mean, who really is besides pilots? – and this plane looked challenging to my fears. How do you watch a movie like Castaway without letting it scare you forever? I made sure I knew where a flashlight, matches, and inflatable neck pillow were in my bag should I become stranded on a tiny atoll.
After the short hop to Vanua Levu in the teensy, can’t-stand-up-inside plane, (and an INCREDIBLE, cortisol-producing landing over the hillside, I might add) I had arrived at the Savusavu airport. It is straight out of my wanderlust dreams – a small open-sided metal hut next to a landing strip next to the ocean; cows and goats grazing alongside. The smell of hot, wet, vegetation, the ocean, distant burning wood smoke… unmistakably the tropics.
Koro Sun Resort is like a dream – in a stunning location down the Hibiscus Highway, perched over a coral lagoon and spreading up into the lush rainforest hills. The people here are so incredibly warm and open that I immediately felt as if I was arriving at the home of family, completely welcomed and at ease.
The adventurous me wanted to settle in immediately, to let out a sigh of relief and excitement. But the small, timid me still needed to have a tiny breakdown involving a nap, a crying phone call to James about the honeymoon paradise I was in by myself, and a lengthy internal discussion about how I could possibly call the airline and schedule a flight home early, because I was feeling so lonely.
I’m now a firm believer in giving everything 24 hours. EVERYTHING. We have these tendencies to exaggerate, to feel the rise of stress hormones, to freak out – and we probably should just take a nap, wait for the sun to shift in the sky, eat a little food – give whatever it is 24 hours to shift.
I needed even less time. By later that evening, sitting with two new friends and Fiji beers, listening to the local church choir sing for us before dinner, I was IN. Fiji had wrapped me quickly into her warm embrace and I was sinking in.
More on this adventure to come, but I write this first part to encourage you to SAY YES! Buy the ticket, take the trip! When we say YES to the adventures life puts in our path, we step through doorways to new perspective, richer experience, and usually, loads of fun no matter what unfolds.
I'm taking a group back to this magical spot in Fiji in November, for an Adventure & Relaxation retreat. Check out more info on my Retreats page. I hope you'll consider joining me!
love and wanderlust,