17
Mar-2017

Isa Lei: Farewell Fiji

Life in Fiji   /  

See all our Fiji travel posts at the end of this post

Jet skis at Beachcomber Island

To our dearest Fiji,

 

We knew this time had to come.

We tried to ignore it, not wanting to think what our life would become without you.

But we cannot hide any longer. We now must face the truth.

The time has come for us to say farewell Fiji. To say moce. Goodbye.

Eight months, eight glorious months in your warmth. It pains us to leave.

Farewell Fiji: Sailboat off Beachcomber Island

We will miss your warm and welcoming embrace. At times, that warm embrace felt almost suffocating as if we were drowning in a sea of hot damp towels draped across the backs of our necks, but still, we loved you.

Oh the adventures we have shared together, dear Fiji.

Sailing across your perfect turquoise waters, plunging into your alluring marine world and among all the beautiful life that calls the ocean home. How will we ever cope without you?

Scuba diving at South Sea Island

You have ruined ocean swimming for us.

Those beautiful, clear waters that felt like a warm bath; with you, we never had to face the the seven stages of freezing waters trickling up through sensitive body parts while slowly drawing out the pain of immersion into a cold ocean.

With you, every swim was a tropical delight.

Beachcomber Island

Farewell Fiji: Treasure Island

We may not have always seen eye to eye.

Your internet connections leave much to be desired, as does the time it takes to get a message through to the right person. And the frequent powercuts we endured were tiresome, but we learnt to be resourceful.

Perhaps you were just teaching us a lesson, dear Fiji.

To appreciate the smaller details in life that perhaps we have ignored all these years as a result of the hustle and bustle of big city life.

You taught us about Fiji time. No hurry, no worry, you would say. Sega na leqa!

In the end, we could not fight island time. Soon enough we too were turning up late to meetings and responding to emails a week later. But it was easy to understand why – your beauty was too much of a distraction. 

Fiji sunset view out to the Mamanucas

Fiji Beachouse Laptop

From four-wheel driving over and between precariously positioned rocks and dirt tracks up into the mountains, overlooking your beauty from a height – you took away our breaths at every turn.

Sometimes that was as we manoeuvred up tracks seemingly made for an ox not vehicles, but mostly because of your stunningly beautiful and intricate landscape.

Fiji-Rockface

Driving through your villages, some where horses are a daily mode of transport, taught us about gratitude.

The basic housing structures, the hardworking people in the heat of the day chopping sugar canes and tending to crops, watching children still aged in single digits herding horses and cattle – we realised what a privileged life we had been living before you.

Fijian houses

Your people are your strength.

You have been through tough times, but oh my, how resilient you are. Some of your people have suffered much pain and trauma especially due to violent acts of nature, and yet your people never complain.

They continue to smile and greet strangers at every opportunity.

Friendly Fijians

At first we were afraid of the men carrying machetes, but soon we understood and learnt we had nothing to fear, just admiration for a workforce untouched by the strains and demands of modern farming and hunting technology and tools.

We soon joined in and bought our own machete – the perfect tool for cracking open a fresh coconut.

Farewell Fiji: We will miss your fresh coconuts!

We learnt that despite having few possessions and little funds, your beautiful people would always smile.

Your children have not been spoilt with the technology of societies driven by smartphones, laptops and constant connectivity. And they were the happiest, friendliest children we have ever met. Every time our paths would cross, brilliant flashes of wide smiles and waving arms would greet us.

How much joy it would bring to us to see children outside playing together and singing. We were humbled to see teenagers just as passionate about sports using plastic coke bottles for rugby balls as the genuine article. Boy, did that speak much to us and our commercialised brains. We realised how much we had to learn about life.

We were just a newly married couple when you entered our lives, Fiji. New and naive in the big scale of marriage.

Photo: Levien & Lens Photography

Photo: Levien & Lens Photography

You certainly have challenged us.

Your mosquitos grew tiresome, never knowing if they were carrying dengue fever or zika and the subsequent ban on potential reproduction.

We may not have always appreciated the taste of kava, but thank you for letting us be part of those special ceremonies.

Unfortunately you never learnt that we had our own vehicle and we didn’t need a taxi. I know we looked like tourists but we never needed that taxi in our first month, our eighth month and every month in between.

But hey, at least we knew we were never alone, right? There was always someone to greet us.

Being with you in our first year of marriage has strengthened us in more ways we could imagine.

We only had two hospital visits during our time with you, one each.

We took road trips at every opportunity, spending hours marvelling in your nature while talking and bonding with one another.

Loka Beach, Fiji

Our scuba diving and snorkelling trips breathed new life into us and now we have a bank full of incredible memories of our adventures – under the sea and on dry land. 

Blue starfish in Fiji

Because of you, we have grown; because of you, we will be better people and your memory will remain forever etched in our hearts.

Dear love, never stop glowing in the evenings.

We treasured all those breathtaking twilight hours, evening after evening. Those slow, lingering sunsets where golden, red and purple hues blended and merged into the ocean oasis. Oh what beauty, oh what hope each sunset gave us.

Sunset at Wailoaloa Beach, Fiji

Sunset Fantasy Island, Fiji

Sunset Reflections

Dancer Sunset

You got under our skin, Fiji.

And now we have to part.

We broke down when your people sang Isa Lei to us, your farewell song. Those stunning voices and harmonies – it was too much for us to bare and tears streamed at the beauty and the heartbreak of having to say goodbye. Those rich voices, unified and perfectly fused with one another; how we will miss your songs and your music.

Our love for you will never fade. Our admiration and respect for you will shine as vibrantly as your azure waters. 

Never forget us, for we will never forget you.

Farewell Fiji. With all our love.

Sota tale.

Juliette & John

Farewell Fiji: We will miss you

 

 

 

_______________________

THE NEXT CHAPTER

We are terribly sad to leave Fiji after a wonderful life in the Islands. But for now, a new chapter awaits for us on Aotearoa, New Zealand. Our Home. Fiji will remain a part of our lives forever and part of this blog – but we cannot wait to share more of our future travels around the world and around our home country of New Zealand with you.

Be sure to follow us on  Instagram – and get in touch if you need help with your Fiji travel plans. 

MORE ON FIJI: 

Diving With Bull Sharks In Fiji
Diving A WW2 Bomber Wreck In Fiji
How To Travel To Fiji For Cheap!
Island Travel Carry-On Essentials
How NOT To Have An Adventure In Fiji
Wreck Diving Fiji: Diving The Raiyawa at Tivua Island
7-Day Fiji Itinerary: Ultimate Adventurer
7-Day Fiji Itinerary: Viti Levu
Snorkelling & Jet-Skiing at Beachcomber Island
Scuba Diving in Savusavu
Ultimate Guide To Savusavu
7 Things That Happen When You Move To Fiji

and plenty MORE FIJI travel stories!


: What feelings did you have when you left a country you had called home?

 

Farewell Fiji

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  • What a beautiful post. I really enjoyed reading this love letter to Fiji. After spending eight months there, the country was bound to get under your skin and touch you in a manner no short-term island break ever will.

  • SylvanMist

    Reading your post was in itself relaxing as you say the islands were! What a beautiful place, I love your pictures. You’re very lucky to have spent so much time there, and as newlyweds, congrats! 🙂

  • Cat Lin

    I love your posts on Fiji, thanks for sharing your journey with us. Your photos and story have inspired me to visit. I’m looking forward to your next journey back home!

    • Thanks, I’m so glad you could be part of the journey. There’ll be some more Fiji related posts still in future though! But time for a new chapter.

  • This was so wonderful to read, it actually brought a tiny little tear to my eye! I had similar feelings when I left India. Although I was only there for 4 months, I’ve never felt as welcomed anywhere else. What you wrote about the children being unspoilt by technology really resonated with me, as I felt the same seeing the kids play in India! Thank you for sharing this beautiful post and I hope you’re settling well back in NZ!

    • Oh Rhiannon, thank you so much. I can imagine how you felt leaving India – I only spent 3 weeks there but was volunteering with a team and the children playing and smiling always bought tears to my eyes too. The simple things in life, huh! It was very hard to leave, one of my team members returned for 4 months after we came back to NZ. What part of India were you in?

  • You really make it sound like a magical place! Blue starfish – I didn’t even know those existed! And the water…looks incredible. I hope to make it there someday

    • Thanks Katie, it truly was magical! I never knew about blue starfish until we arrived in Fiji and suddenly they were everywhere! Hope you get the chance to travel there too.

  • Janine Good

    Following your travels through Fiji has been magical. I can totally feel your emotions as you depart and start again back home. We had the same as we lived in the UK for 2 years and then came back to Canada to start over. We had good paying jobs, a beautiful apartment, and a circle of really lovely friends. We had to begin again. But we have been blessed. I look forward to reading about Japan, NZ and Ireland!

    • Thanks Janine for being part of the journey! It’s always hard packing up and starting again, but that’s part of life. And just means a new adventure awaits. Looking forward to sharing our future journeys with you!

  • Luxurybackpacking

    This is so beautifully written! Must be so sad saying goodbye to such an amazing country, we were only there for a week and didn’t want to leave, I can only imagine what saying goodbye after 8 months was like! We are dreading leaving Australia next year, after 4 years, but every new adventure starts with a goodbye and a hello to a new one! 🙂

    • Thank you so much, yes it was incredible hard and I cried on the plane as we flew out and the poor air hostess thought she had done something to upset me! Such a beautiful nation and beautiful people everywhere. Australia is awesome – that will be hard to leave after 4 years. But, like us, time for a new adventure! Where to next?

  • Sonja Thomson

    Wow what a stunning place to have spent 8 months, and a place that must be hard to leave. Love the style of this post, it’s written beautifully. Good luck in your new ventures!

    • Thanks Sonja, it was the best adventure we could have ever hoped for. Too many emotions to write down everything in one post though! Glad you enjoyed the read.

  • Its hard to say goodbye to something that has had such a profound effect on you. But the world marches on, and there are many more adventures awaiting you back in NZ. Good luck!

    • Exactly. But it just means there’s a new adventure ahead somewhere. Island life is very special and very unique – and now we have a wonderful memory bank for our future.

  • Corinne Vail

    What a gorgeous place to live for 8 months. I’m sure you’ll miss it, as it is always bittersweet. Good luck in the future.

  • Punita Malhotra

    The storytelling is lovely. Fiji seems to have left a deep mark on your soul! Wonderful pictures too. My favourites are the sunset pictures. Breathtaking.

    • Thanks so much, yes it certainly has had a profound impact on our lives. Every sunset was breathtaking – truly an incredible place to live.

  • Skye

    Oh this is such a lovely love letter to Fiji and it looks like you have made some incredible memories there. Your photos are incredible. I felt the same way leaving Spain many years ago and to be honest, I still miss it everyday. You really leave a part of yourself in places like this that become your home. Best of luck in NZ.

    • Thanks of your kind words. We have made incredible memories! SO many beautiful places to photograph. How long were you in Spain for? It becomes part of your daily routine that it’s hard to let go, isn’t it?

  • Sandy & Vyjay

    Fiji is amazing! Those waters and ocean swimming, the beautiful sunset and the laid back serene environment. I totally understand how you must have felt because the farewell is really heart touching.

    • Thanks – the water is quite something! Not sure how we’re going to cope swimming in New Zealand waters again…

  • Elisa Subirats

    Hey, this is not a blog post, this is a LOVE letter ! 😉 Fiji is so far from Europe that it can only be a dream for me in the moment. But dreaming is good! Nice pictures, can’t wait to read about your next adventures in Aotearoa

    • Yes indeed, a love letter to Fiji! It’s a long way to travel in the same way I wish I could get to Europe easier! But if you are on this side of the world – especially if you are visiting New Zealand and Australia – then you will have to visit Fiji!

  • Whoa this as absolutely beautiful!! The photos and the writing both. I’m pinning it for when I go for sure 🙂 I always love to be reminded about people who have very little are often the happiest. It makes me want to stop my shopping addiction!

    • Thanks Christie! It would be impossible NOT to smile in Fiji, what with everyone greeting you and being so friendly and helpful. It’s a beautiful place. Clothes have a time limit…memories of a tropical island don’t 😛

  • Gokul Raj

    This a great idea. Writing an open letter to the countries you visited. Pretty awesome 🙂

  • Melody Pittman

    Are you sure you want to go? Wow, Fiji is so freaking amazing. From the blue sea star to the workplace shot, I think I would reconsider leaving myself. 😉

    • No, not certain at all! But unfortunately the contract came to an end, so we didn’t have much choice. Neither of us wanted to leave. But better opportunities in NZ right now for us.

  • Torgeir Wigum Lindland

    I know how you feel. Leaving a place is always so sad. Especially when it is a tropical paradise like Fiji. Hope you will have a great time wherever you go in the future. At least you will always have Fiji in your hearts.

  • Fiji is definitely incredible! Its been on my wishlist for long. Glad you made it to Fiji and too bad that your vacation has to come to an end but isn’t that the feeling always!!!

    • We were working over there so it was our life, rather than a vacation, so it was particularly hard leaving. On to the next adventure now!

  • Jean Bean

    This is such a heartfelt post. It’s absolutely lovely. I can see why you fell in love with Fiji and now I’m sad that you guys are leaving this island paradise.

    • Thanks Jean, it was emotional writing it! Fiji was beautiful – but we have lots more exciting adventures for you to read about!

  • Riely Mills

    A lovely post and tale about your time in Fiji. From your photos Fiji looks stunning and a place I am sure was so tough to leave especially with all the friendly locals welcoming you for so long in their home town. Isn’t it amazing how the happiest people always live the most simplistic lives. Really enjoyed this poetic post.

    • Thanks Riely. Fiji was an incredibly beautiful place in many different ways. We really miss the people and the friendly faces.

  • Kathy James

    Wow I haven’t been to Fiji but I certainly want to go ASAP. It looks so beautiful. I too would be worried about the men with knives but as long as they didn’t seem too threatening, I think I would relax a little around them.
    I found it really hard to leave the place I called home in the Philippines. However you can always go back and visit although it is still hard

    • I can imagine it would have been tough leaving the Philippines. It’s incredible how your heart gets caught up in a place. Want to go back to Fiji to see a few more sights – we have unfinished business there!

  • Grace Wooller

    I have always dreamt about visiting Fiji! How lucky you are to be able to stay there for 8 months! I feel your pain and sadness. I felt exactly the same when I was leaving Barbados and going back to rainy England. It felt like I was kicked out of a paradise and ended up in a huge and cold muddy puddle! At least you going back to NZ- that certainly cant be that bad!

    • I hope you get the chance to visit because it is truly a beautiful country with beautiful people. We are back in NZ and it’s the end of summer heading into autumn & winter – such a difference to the warm tropical climate we have been used to! But NZ is cool.

  • What an amazing experience you guys have had as newlyweds living in this tropical island. I totally understand your hesitation for leaving this home, as I felt the same way when I left the UK after living there for 3 years. I think it’s always helpful to think of every move as a new adventure! You guys will have the most incredible time in NZ. That is one of the most beautiful and diverse countries on the planet.

    • Thanks Ali, we couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity for the start of our marriage than to spend it in Fiji. But you are absolutely right – a new adventure awaits! It’s funny, everyone thinks NZ is so awesome but because it’s home for us and we have travelled it extensively, it feels less exciting…But it is beautiful and I do feel very fortunate to call it home.

  • What a beautiful farewell! I would be sad leaving paradise as well! Excited to read up on your next adventures! #wanderfulwednesday

  • So many gorgeous pictures from Fiji!! I can totally imagine how hard it must be to leave but I’m also excited to read more about your adventures in NZ 🙂

    • Thanks Van. I’m sure I’ll still be posting some more Fiji photos as I continue to go through them all! NZ is awesome. Can’t wait to share more about our road tripping adventures here!

  • Oh you brought tears to my eyes! What a beautiful post. I know that Denmark has left watermarks on me as well despite not always loving every second of it. Best of luck on your new adventures repatriating – can’t wait to see New Zealand through your lens – cheers from Copenhagen! #FarawayFiles

    • Sorry for making you teary-eyed! We were crying as we wrote it. And I totally cried on the plane. Amazing how a country can get under your skin like that, despite the challenges along the way! Thanks so much, look forward to sharing the new journey with you and on #farawayfiles!

  • Untold Morsels

    What a beautiful tribute to your adopted home Juliette. Such a gorgeous place with amazing people and those bath like seas. I cant do a normal sea now either. Tropical or nothing for me! Looking forward to all your upcoming adventures in NZ. #FarawayFiles

    • Sorry for the delayed response! It’s clearly taken all these months to get over it! We miss Fiji a lot but at the same time are happy to be in NZ.

  • Such a great send of with so many wonderful memories. And what a collection of the most stunning shots!

  • Oooh so sad that you’re leaving! I’ve enjoyed your posts and Fiji and now I dream about it all the time and joke with my husband we should move there! Looking forward to your next adventure! #FarawayFiles

    • I apologise for such a delayed response! I am glad you enjoyed our Fiji posts – and I hope you get the chance to see it for yourself!

  • what a life experience! you’ll always cherish it #farawayfiles

    • We will always cherish it for sure. Hard to believe it…now that we have been back in NZ for some months. It’s like a dream.

  • hilary

    Amazing photos and a lovely tribute to your time in this beautiful place! I hope to visit someday… #farawayfiles

  • nattiekaf

    What a beautiful sentiment, Fiji looks like it would be so hard to leave, my god it’s beautiful! After spending 3 months living in Thailand I had such mixed feelings about leaving, I suppose that happens when you spend extending time in a place.

    • Thanks Natalie – it was exceptionally hard leaving but we are glad to be back in NZ and closer to friends and family right now. We have another move next year, but will be within NZ.

  • Clare Thomson

    I’d be devastated to leave too. But onwards and upwards and onto the next chapter of your lives. I shall enjoy reading what New Zealand brings in store for the two of you. thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    • I firstly apologise for the extremely delayed response! But thank you for your comment. It is hard to believe we actually lived over in Fiji. Now that we have been back in NZ for a few months it seems like a distant dream.

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  • Absolutely, it is one of those harsh realities. I’m glad you could relate to our story!

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