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Being Good Boys and Girls This Christmas Season

Bah HumbugThe tenors outnumbered the baritones three to one. However, it was 5:10 in the morning on Christmas Day within Fiji’s Mamanuca Islands. Initially thinking I was trapped between a sweet dream and a strange reality, I hurriedly woke Ashley asking, “Did you hear that?” “What, huh, nope,” she sleepily whispered. “No, listen,” I demanded in an effort to establish my state of mind. “Yeah, I hear some faint singing,” she registered still clinging to the body pillow. Christmas 2009 was off to a strange yet incredible start: the staff of Tokoriki Resort was caroling “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” at sunrise outside our oceanside bure.

Ash Talking to Her Fam Ashley must have been a good girl and Santa certainly turned a blind eye to my misbehavior. Because here we were, 1,000s of miles away from anything resembling snow while the good ‘ole USA dealt with blizzard conditions and Europe’s Chunnel was shut down due to drifting snow. Santa Clause (Brad and Cathy Miller) really went beyond a candy filled stocking. Most of December was spent in New Zealand and a homecoming would have been costly… so Ash’s folks sent us to beautiful Fiji. An elf even left Ashley pearl earrings underneath Tokoriki’s Christmas Tree. This is not to say we didn’t miss our families dearly. Ash phoned her family prior to breakfast as the Millers (all 75+ of them) gathered at Grandma June’s home in Claflin, KS on Christmas Eve (our Christmas Day). Crocodile tears streamed down her sunburnt face the entire time. I reached my family celebrating in Cincinnati, OH at home with the Fleges, only after my Mom was kind enough to hang up on me the first try! The phone connection was poor, but I believe my Dad (Herb) got my Mom (Susan) “parrots” for the occasion. I can only hope the static on the line made deciphering the gift difficult. Though not married (expected to occur Summer 2017), Ash and I agreed we feel equally comfortable in the company of either family and love them just the same.

View From Under Glass Bottom Boat Thanks Santa! Hobie Cat

Roundly sad and missing home, we engulfed cups of coffee, eggs benedict, pancakes, and danishes. It was a quick breakfast because Mass began at 10:00am. We didn’t understand a single word during the thirty-five minute ceremony that was given in the local Maori language. But it was a pleasure nonetheless sharing the celebration with the good people of Fiji. After Church, we felt compelled to participate in a traditional Midwestern USA activity in the Winter… snorkeling. Josua (Tokoriki Island Resort’s man of the sea) boarded us on the glass bottom boat and a short time later it was fastened to a buoy above the intoxicated saltwater below. After dawning snorkels, masks, and fins, Ashley held fast onto my hand as we floated along the reef’s edge before it gave away to an incredible deep blue abyss. The tepid water was teeming with colorful fish and the occasional white tip reef shark. Though they were just baby maneaters, Ash was scared enough to not leave my side. Having swallowed enough sea water, it was back to the island for more body fuel.

Xmas Day SunsetYet another massive meal (is dessert really necessary after lunch?) then we hit the Fijian water once more. This time Captain Dietz was at the helm of a Hobie Cat. Pretty simple, even for a novice, to maneuver the small vessel. When the wind was just right and we had the proper position in respect to the gusts, the small catamaran felt like it was moving at light speed. But for the most part, it was feast or famine regarding velocity. Ash played the part of a paying passenger quite well: relaxing, sun bathing, and gazing at the reflective water. When she tried ordering a pina colada, Captain Dietz pointed at the resort and promptly swung the boom her way, knocking her overboard (in my mind). Just when I was getting a grasp on the proper sail tension and headings, it was time to locate the port ‘o call and freshen up for Christmas Dinner.

Xmas Day Mango Belini Santa and Greg! Santa and Ash!

Upon entering the tropical lobby, Joe, a friendly Fijian, handed us complimentary mango belinis. As if we needed more champagne after drinking a bottle of Moet in our bure. Before being seated at our pool side table overlooking the ocean, a sled could be heard landing in the white sand. Low and behold, Santa made his grand appearance! Then on cue, a contingent of 40 children clad in white and carrying candles lined up and sang a few classic Holiday songs along with some local ones. It was truly beautiful to watch the elated kids perform. After several rounds of applause, the children choir and chaperones boarded two boats bound for their island located thirty minutes away and just as fast as Santa appeared, they disappeared into the dark ocean. Dinner was yet another feast, this time a smorgasbord of lobster, crawfish, prawns, clams, and oysters. All local and oh so fresh! We enjoyed a nightcap back at our bure and concluded that it was such a remarkable Christmas in a magical place.

Island Children Choir Xmas Dinner Xmas Dinner with a View

But we look forward to next year’s Holiday Season surrounded by family and friends. Instead of carolers outside an island bure, we may awake in a Midwestern home and clamor down the stairs to look under the Christmas Tree.

 - Greg

Learn From Our Footsteps:

1) Fiji has a plethora of options in terms of accommodation. The main island (Viti Levu), where the capital Nadi and international airport is located, has numerous resorts with a wide price range (Coral Coast is most popular area). If desiring a more remote island experience, the Mamanuca Islands are a great choice. Most backpackers looking for a cheaper island experience choose the Yasawa Islands. Most islands are accessible by ferry.

2) Resorts charge a king’s ransom for drinks. So plan ahead and bring a few bottles of wine and your favorite spirits. This will allow you to splurge for a fruity drink here and there and not worry too much about your budget.

  • Lisa Skaggs

    Hey you two! How was NZ? – Skaggs

  • fofs

    Lisa – New Zealand twas amazing! A place we hope to see again in the
    future… blog posts on the way!

    - Greg

  • fofs

    Lisa – New Zealand twas amazing! A place we hope to see again in the
    future… blog posts on the way!

    - Greg

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