from our eyes to yours

For the past twenty days my eyes have witnessed a new way of life. A lifestyle surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, joyful spirits, and unexpected adventures. Even when I pause for a quiet moment of internal reflection, I’m still itching to explore beyond the walls of my mind. There is so much to do, even more to see. On the bus this past Friday I met a man by the name of Howie Cooke. For three hours, Howie delved into the depths of his life, each story more fascinating than the last. One of Howie’s mantras, “there’s no time to do everything, enough time to do anything, plenty of time to do something,” is the truest belief I’ve heard regarding the time we don’t have to waste. For the past twenty days I have wasted no time. Join my ride and catch a glimpse of what I’ve seen…

10576958_10204546187163098_6326382198775204183_nOn July 8th at 11 pm we were strangers awkwardly introducing ourselves in the LAX terminal. On July 10th at 2:30 pm, on barely any sleep, we laughed, screamed and flew through the Fijian forests.

1911668_10204546194923292_6071464868132565733_n

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10489928_10204546216643835_9201536486550184374_nRide home from zip lining. The wind whipping our enthused faces and the sun setting right in front of us over the mountains.

DSC00133An exhausting 5 am wake up call on day 2 turned into the most relaxing morning on my life watching the sunrise from the hot spring and mud bath.

DSC00168Learning how to machete open a freshly picked coconut and failing miserably (but I still drank the delicious milk from the one Kevin perfectly split open).

DSC00178 Success.

10478676_10201885011001369_763981730480068078_n Potentially dangerous yoga pose a top an abandoned home looking over the city of Nadi and watching another gorgeous day come to an end.

1237488_10152619317085844_6943474893268465127_nHelping prepare kava after the traditional kava welcoming ceremony in the Vunavutu village.

10477050_10201893589655830_4990935766553018601_n Racing up the sand dunes right outside of the village.

10525911_10204546288045620_7402724409293539675_n Embracing every moment atop the dunes. The ocean to my left, mountains to my right, surrounded by mass amounts of beauty.

10492615_10152619321250844_407151990077385123_nEntertaining the children in the village with our “shopping cart” dance move. We may have had a bit too much of the drog.

DSC00322My host mama, Meme, Alex, and I turned breakfast papaya into art.

10513245_10152619325000844_7570452562305618150_nOur village family. So much love in one room.

10487389_10152619327300844_6981492732174093183_nThe morning after a treacherous night of food poisoning, boating down a river to a waterfall. We felt just as miserable as we look.

DSC00351Our first weekend trip to Namuka Bay Lagoon resort in Singtoka. A magical weekend with a sky full of the clearest stars, fresh fish prepared by the elegant ladies of the resort, abandoned rail road treks into the nearest town, mountainous waves crashing in the distance, and endless memories with the people who became my family in 20 enjoyably long days.

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Oh my gosh Bula

My mind is racing. Boarding the plane at JFK to LAX with absolutely zero expectations for what was to come was the best decision my curious mind could have made. My anticipation for nothing has made everything that much more surreal yet unbelievably real at the same time. I’ve gone zip living through a Fijian forest, built by the hands of the man who taught us how to flip on the line. I’ve ridden a horse through a field of sugar cane, with a stalk of cane in hand. Delicious. I’ve helped to prepare (and eat) a meal cooked in an earth oven, played rugby, watched the sun rise over “sleeping giant” mountains while steaming in a mud bath. I’ve watched the sun set from the back of a truck waving and shouting bula (hello in Fijian) to everyone we passed. The best part, every Fijian shouted bula back with enthusiasm and joy! Through the winding Fijian streets, at 100 km/hr with palm tree forests to my left and the Pacific to my right, I’ve jammed in a van with a driver named Summit belting “Hotel California”, air guitar in hand, with my study abroad family.

Together, Anna, Chris, Fritzy, Laney, Alex, other Anna, Brittany, Kate and I flew to Fiji took a tour of a Hindu temple, played monkey in the middle beneath the searing sun with the children of our study abroad coordinators, adopted a pooch, ran up sand dunes, ran down sand dunes, lived in a village, drink Kava, and got food poisoning. In a hostel-like hotel room, one by one we each ran to the toilets (or pulled the nearest trash bin to our bed) and bonded in the best possible way people can bond. Following the torturous night, we boarded a canoe and took in the breathtaking view of the river ahead of us and land around us while holding down any leftover nausea. We felt so miserable that we struggled to enjoy a waterfall. But we had done it all, and more, in four days. In FOUR days. And we hadn’t even been to Suva, where our University is on the other side of the country.

While there are more memories to share, there are heaps more to create. Never stop exploring…

Loads of peace, happiness, love and sunshine (and a bit of rain showers) from Fiji.

Side note, photos coming soon…

my cup of tea

My final night in the states, my cup of tea gave me the sweetest bit of travelers wisdom…

Live light. Appreciate the moments, both small and large. Every little bit of experience is something to remember. Just go with it. Adapt. Accept the changing courses of the wind, fly with it; the universe has something planned for you. Always keep moving forward with a smile on your face, love in your heart and a skip in your step. Live light.

Travel light. It’s incredible how capable we are of achieving exceptional things with our strong minds, open heart, and radiating spirit. Carry these essentials, the necessities (a toothbrush and some deodorant could come in hand if you want to make some friends), and let your senses take over storing every scent, sight, feeling, taste and sounds. Memories don’t need to be packed. Travel light.

Spread the light. We are all connected. We have been for centuries and will be for centuries to come. The people you meet today will soon meet the people you met ten years ago. Inspire each other so that inspiration can bounce back and forth and shine from one continent to the next. Spread the light.

Be the light. We come from different homes, backgrounds and experiences. We each have something wonderful to offer to the world. Be true to yourself, be fair to others, be the beautiful change. Be the light.

Studying abroad is a choice I’ve stuck to for 8 months. Today, July 8th, 2014, is surreal. I’m Fiji bound. I found my cup of tea. Cheers to my first sip.
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