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Fiji Islands: Sunny Service & Island Immersion Session 1 2024

June 23, 2024

Bula! Today started by waking up to the birds chirping outside of our rooms. We slowly made our way to a delicious breakfast by the pool and then got ready for the day ahead of us. After filling up our water bottles we went out by the pool and played card games, as we waited for the bus. It was amazing to drive through town and see all the small villages along the journey to the zipline. The Jurassic park themed zipline course was even better than we ever could have imagined. There were dinosaurs all throughout the jungle landscape. We got our harnesses on and started off slow on the courses but by the end everyone was going upside down doing the move we call “dead man”.

For lunch we all got pizzas, then began our hike to the waterfalls. By the time we made it to the beautiful waterfall, we were all sweating and couldn’t wait any longer to jump in. The water was crisp, but felt amazing. We jumped into the water and showered under the falls, before we began our journey back. We met a family during our bus ride back who thought we had known each other our whole lives. They were shocked after hearing we’d only met in the airport two days before. Once we made it back to our villa, we quickly got ready for our beachside dinner. As our toes touched the sand we were met with the most gorgeous sunset. We didn’t let any time pass before diving into the warm water. Floating in the ocean while watching the sunset set was the perfect end to our first day in Fiji.

By Sam and Kate

June 24, 2024

Bula! Today we arose at quite an early hour to the bumping music of our poolside restaurant, where pancakes were served as the main course, with a side of aggressive slapjack. We then hopped on the bus for our long seaside journey. Along the bumps of the bus, came the heated games of spot-it and crazy 8s. Our first pitstop was a gas station filled with aisles of endless snacks and goods. Later we arrived to a spectacular view overlooking the blue Fijian waters. When our stomachs finally started to settle from all of the snacks, we were greeted with a delicious curry lunch. Followed by shopping for Sulus and visiting the Raki-Raki local market. We then began the last leg of our journey. Soon arriving at Nativi village where we were greeted with spectacular views and wide smiles from the children of the village. We then prepared for the welcoming ceremony (Sevu-Sevu) that encapsulated drinking Cava (makes your tongue a little numb) from Bilos while rhythmically clapping that concluded in accepting us into their community and the warm greetings of our host families. After exploring our homes for the next five days, the village children instantly surrounded us and eagerly toured us around the village. We then returned to the community hall where we played a big paddy cake game similar to concentration. This was soon followed by tea and snacks before heading back to spend quality time with our host families before dinner. Plates kept being placed in front of us and each one was better than the last. Our day ended with a closing circle of our favorite parts of the day.

By Tomoka and Bodil

June 25, 2024

Bula! Tap tap tap mo mo mo bark bark cockle doodle do. We awoke to the sound of rain on our tin roof. We emerged from our bug nets and immediately put on our sulus. After our delicious breakfast on the ground of our community center, we began our first day of service. This included a quick Adam Sandler-esque fashion show of knee length shorts and elbow length shirts. We slapped on our gloves and began jumping on our shovels in order create holes to put up a new fence around the kindergarten. The bugs were biting to say the least but we didn’t let them stop us! After a couple of breaks and some good laughs with the locals, we finished our first shift of service and headed to lunch. After lunch, we got back to work painting the school. Again we were fed with tea and made yet another friend (pussy the cat). Now that we were all fueled up we began an intense volleyball match. We soon realized we are a very competitive bunch. Games of duck duck goose and netball were played and everyone was having a grand ol’ time. As we went back to our homestays, we all had a unique shower experience before making our way back down to the community center for dinner. After the meal, the town elders taught us to weave mats, bracelets, and fans. Exhausted, full, and happy. We were excited for the week to come and we rustled straight back into our beds and strapped into our bug nets.

By Sam & Carmella

June 26, 2024

Bula! We arose to the small pitter patter of the chickens talons across the tile and the refreshing moist dew on each blade of grass. We scarf down yet another doughnut and scone breakfast before heading back to the kindergarten for service. Fiji time hit us hard in the morning as we waited for Jim filling our time with bracelets and for some sleep. As Tyson single handedly and heroically moved tons of gravel and cement to help renovate the local kindergarten. Keep in mind us girls were hard at work addressing the possible asmr video potential of our cement mixing. Kevin eventually decided to awake from his slumber and help us with our service where we then had fresh coconut water and meat straight from the tree. As we take our well deserved coconut break we mosey over to the community hall for our lengthy lunch break where we are reunited with our favorite feline friend. As we head back to the school our favorite activity takes place (painting) however unfortunately more paint ended up on skin then walls. We then wrapped up our day with a quick dip in the river with the locals, a game of cards, and another delicious dinner.  We are optimistic for a productive work day tomorrow.

By Bodil & Tyson

June 27, 2024

Bula! Our day started off early with roosters cockedoodoledoing in our ears at 5am. We were all tired but rallied up as there was a delicious breakfast waiting for us. We were told that we would start work at 8:30am but Fiji time had other plans… We played some cards, ate some crackers and gummies, and work officially started at 10am. Shortly after painting, it was snack time!! We gobbled up our cookies and chips, and then picked up our brushes. We got back to work for a couple of hours and counted down the minutes for lunch. Lunch was packed with curry, rice, fruit, spinach and salad, and we undoubtedly ate it all. We got back to service and absolutely grinded for a couple of hours, and this included the internal walls, external walls, the ceiling, the floor, everything. After this, we had rest time where we took well deserved naps, played cards, and did henna for a couple of hours. We then had our beloved tea time at 4:00pm, sharp, where we all devoured brownies, tea, and scones. Then we played volleyball with the locals, where we all got way too competitive. After many rounds, we ate some ice cream (thank you, Craig!) We played some bonding game led by us and then made our way down to the hall for a delicious curry dinner. At this point, we were all getting quite tired so we hung out at Millie’s before heading back to our houses for a well needed sleep as tomorrow is our last day of service. See you tomorrow!

By Kate & Tomoka 🏐❣️🍽️🍽️🍽️🍽️

June 28, 2024

Bula! Our morning started bright and early ☀️ just like the rest, with chickens screaming 🐔🐔 and dogs barking 🐕. After a longer wait than usual, we trudged up towards the community hall 😓 where breakfast🥞🍳 was waiting. Donuts 🥯 and fruit 🍓 and treats galore! The carb heavy breakfast fueled ⛽ us for the next few hours as we finished our work around the kindergarten 🌈. We cut the wires needed to complete the fence 🤺 project started just a few days ago. After a quick break of playing cards ♠️ and watching Kevin win over and over, we finished up the paint 🎨 job on the inside while listening to music 🎶. Finishing this all in one sitting 🪑 was a relief to us all since it was all the work we needed to do. We walked back to Millie’s house, where Craig pulled out an arsenal of snacks 🥨 🤤 he had just picked up in town. We sat and shared our snacks in a circle while picking up on the cards ♦️ we started just a few hours before. After a long break 😎 embracing the Fijian lifestyle we split off into two groups to take on some different activities. The boys found a pump for the deflated rugby 🏉 ball and the girls went on a run 🏃🏾‍♂️ after all those carbs 🍝. We then all joined up together for our daily volleyball 🏐😁 match. The very competitive 😯 match ended in Kevin’s victory more than a few times. We took a look at ourselves 🤮 and saw the state we were in and hit the showers 🚿 before dinner 🍽️. We ate a hearty meal and played some bonding 😊 games before heading to bed early.

By Payton & Kevin 🔥💯

June 29, 2024

Bula! Fiji time struck again, we began our day at 8:30 with a scrumptious breakfast. Yum 😋! What was supposed to be a family affair ended with us trekking 3 miles to the sugar cane fields. We took a pitstop to munch on the sweet canes. Leaving behind our cane crumbs we started to create what we had just consumed. With the help of our Fijian friends we planted and cut sugar cane. Building up quite the sweat. Straight from there we headed to our cruise ride down the river ( a homemade bamboo raft) this was filled with laughs and a little fear of sinking😂. Next once again we started to eat ( who’s shocked!). After lunch we had to be rolled out to the volleyball court for one last intense game. We played until the sun fully set then we checked the lovo before heading back to our homestays for a nice bucket shower. We got back to the community hall for a delicious lovo (a selection of meat, spinach, kasava, and taro cooked in the ground). After we completed our traditional feast we had our closing ceremony. This consisted of sitting criss cross apple sauce which posed as quite the difficult task. We had 2 rounds of cava their traditional drink ( mud water). After our last round of cava we had lots of thank yous and then danced the night away. Traditional fijian music, laughs, and smiles filled the room. Once the music had slowly came to a stop we headed back for one last night of sleep, a little past our bed time. Stomachs filled, feet tired, and souls healed. We layed our heads down and dreamed of our new adventure to come.

By Sam and Carmella

June 30, 2024

Bula! We arose in the morning preparing to say our farewells to our new Fijian friends before they headed off for Sunday church. We expected to have a short breakfast (where Kevin and Tyson were once again late🙄) before saying our final goodbyes but we ended up getting Fiji’d once again. Turns out our bus broke down on the way to pick us up from Nativi💅. But it wasn’t all bad because it gave us some time to play games with the children and have an extended and emotional goodbye. So instead of our bus four of us were forced to volunteer to stay behind while the other four shuttled down to the coast, it was a very very very very very snug and personal ride down in Craig’s truck while the others stayed behind making bula bracelets until finally catching a ride to VoliVoli. After arriving at VoliVoli resort we devoured a much needed American meal and swam for a few hours before boarding a bus to head back to Beach Escape Resort. The bus consisted of impecable vocals, tasty snacks, and heated games of contact. Arriving at the resort came with many needed bathroom breaks and immaculate hot showers🙏. To end the day we had a delicious meal and got ready to fall asleep as soon as we hit the pillow.

By Tyson😊 & Bodil 😘

July 1, 2024

Bula! today was a relaxing day at the Beach Escape Villas. We had a late start as we laid in our beds while some read and others journaled. After the Nativi village experience, we had some time to reflect on what we gained from our time there. We walked down the street to the Olive Tree Mexican restaurant. We all placed our orders and then walked down stairs to pick out some snacks for the second half of our time here. We then hopped on our bus which took us over to the Nadi town for a little bit of shopping. At the crafts market, we used our bargaining skills and bought handmade bracelets and then made our way back to the villas. We immediately put on our swimsuits, grabbed our books and made our way down to the beach. We all went in the water for around an hour and then got out to have a beautiful sunset dinner on the beach. We took some pictures and enjoyed the moments until we made the decision to head back. We played the card game, presidents (which we are all addicted to!) then we went into our rooms to pack up for the next couple days ahead of us. See you in Barefoot Manta!!!!

By Kate😍 and Tamoka🤩

July 2, 2024

Bula! We came out of our rooms extra early today, bags 💼 packed, hats 🧢 on, strapped in👜 . We walked over to the bus that took us to the pier where we had a scrumptious 😋 breakfast 🥞 . We sat on the top of the boat ⛵ to take in all the beautiful views and to get a quick tan before the beach🏖️ vacay. The boat ride was long and after an hour it felt like we were baking in the sun 🌞, Tyson decided to cool down with a $10 💸 ice-cream 🍦. We took a smaller boat to take us right over the reef to the coast of Barefoot Manta Resort. We got greeted with music🎶 and locals yelling BULA at us, they lead us off the shore deeper into the resort. Here we got a debrief on certain things about the island 🏝️ and got a much needed amenities like cold❄️ towels and juce🧃. We headed to check out our rooms than grab some lunch by the beach ⛱️, we changed right after and went in for a swim👙 and some other water fun. Craig came over and offered to bring us out 🤿 snorkling on the reef where we saw some interesting critters 🦞🦐🦀 and sea life like sharks 🦈🐠 and colorful fish. We spent the next few hours chilling then headed to dinner 🍽️ where we had a full course meal 😁 ending with an energetic bula dance 💃. We sat by the beach and watched the sunset 🌅 while talking before going to bed. 🛏️

By Kevin and Payton

July 3, 2024

Bula! Yandra (good morning). Us islanders woke up quite early this morning for a relaxing sunrise 🌅. Directly after our sunrise we scarfed down our breakfast and got straight to tanning. Our time in the sun had a quick intermission while we learned all about coral reefs and morays. Then as we do best we got to work. We snorkeled out to the reefs and used our time building skills to transfer coral from our guide to bottom of the ocean using our knew found duck diving skills 🪸. It was an AMAZING experience. Lunch and some more time in the sun followed short after. Check ins and some phone calls home to our special loved ones😉 was interrupted by the loud drum calls telling us there was a manta. We immediately got our snorkel gear and saw not one but three mantas!!! Tired and satisfied by be the bucket list activities we showered up and got all dressed up for dinner. Ending the night with an extended curfew to further bind with our new best friends we settled in bed and looked forward to the day to come. One that hopefully had us using more sunscreen…😂

By Carmella & Payton

July 4, 2024

Bula, this morning we sleep in and had a relaxing morning. We headed to breakfast in our bathing suits ready to jump in the ocean directly after. We soaked in the sun on the beach and got an amazing sun kissed glow. We headed on a short hike to see the amazing views or the surrounding ocean. When we returned we all got ice cream to cool off. We headed to eat at the buffet lunch. Then we returned to tanning and reading, some of us finishing whole books. We headed out on paddle boards and soaked up the views. We learned a little too late that the trip to get back was a lot harder than the way out. But we made it back eventually. We played volleyball with the locals, they were a lot better than the majority of us but it was a lot of fun. Then we all got cute and ready for dinner. They had chocolate cake for desert and it was an amazing way to finish out the night.

By Payton

July 5, 2024

BULAAAA!! We are officially fluent Fijian speakers. We woke up at the crack of dawn and dragged ourselves out of bed for a sunrise swim. It was not easy, but it was our last day at Barefoot Manta and felt fitting. We then headed to breakfast where we waited for omelettes and pancakes to arrive😋. After our large breakfast we headed back to our favorite beach to soak up as many rays as possible before we have to depart🏝️🌞⛱️😁. After most people finishing their beach reads. We take one last dip in the ocean before heading to our last buffet that consists solely of curry (like usual)🤤. After lunch we were serenaded by all the local Fijian workers as our final goodbye 🎶. We took out last barefoot walk along the beach before getting on to the boat. We obviously got seats on the top deck. The boat ride was quite bumpy, but after 3 hours, we made it back to Nadi. We took the short bus ride back to the Beach Escape Villas and then sat down for a nice dinner while watching a Fijian fire dance. It was an incredible experience to close our second to last night here in Fiji. See you tomorrow for our very last day😭😭😭🥲🥲🥲🥹🥹🥹🥹🥰🥰🥰🥰

By Kate, Bodil and Sam

July 6, 2024

Bula! We woke up around 7:30 today but things were different. We had to say farewell to Tomoka and pack and prepare for the long travel day ahead of us. We all stood around and received our hugs and farewells to Tom and then walked over to grab breakfast. After a nice breakfast filled with various card games we then headed back to fully finish our packing and checking out of our rooms. We then took a charter bus over to Port Denaru where we had a few hours of shopping and smelling all the food stores as we walked by. We grabbed an interesting lunch of mediocre tacos and fries, then we strolled over to finish picking out airport clothes from the stores and headed back to the beach resort where we would wait up until we left for the airport. Once we got to the airport and checked in to the flight we went through security. The girls met two people from the cast of Love Island. They were a bit over exited in my opinion but the excitement died down when they got turned down for a picture. We then explored the duty free shops for our favorite fragrances before getting ready to board our flight.

By Kevin and Tyson