June 29, 2017
Wow! How time goes by in the blink of an eye! We said goodbye to all the kiddos last night and felt quite lost as they walked through the security gate. Although we were sad to see them go, we spent our very last day in Fiji rejoicing in all the experiences we had during a dual sailboat-catamaran ride on the clear waters of Denarau Island.
While lounging (and bouncing) on the group-sized hammocks built into the boat, the crew presented us with a beautiful plate of fresh fruit. (Really wishing we could send some pineapple back to y’all- it is the best we have ever had). While admiring Katie’s boat steering skills, we all fell asleep as the boat took us to a private island with even clearer water. Mary Brice and Anne Carter took the crew up on snorkeling over the nearby reef. Both were excited to see starfish, a sting ray, a sea cucumber, and yet another shipwreck! Kasey used this time on the boat as an opportunity to soak up some last-minute Fijian rays and despite submerging in the water, was covered in salt just from the splashing of the waves overboard. On our way back, Maddie and Olivia had us all cracking up as they sat in the front of the boat getting perpetually splashed.
The time we shared with your girls was an honor, and we do not take it lightly how much trust and faith you placed in our hands to watch over them. Thank you, thank you, thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience Fiji alongside a fantastic group of dynamic, courageous, and budding girls.
With much love,
Rebecca and Mary Moran
June 27, 2017
Greetings from Fiji,
Senga nalenga (no worries) to all the nervous parents – we just wrapped up our scuba section this afternoon! After exploring the surface of the water during surfing and snorkeling, we could not wait to start exploring all the aquatic life at greater depths. All the girls got certified on Sunday afternoon by our group’s personal favorite scuba guide, Lui. During the last training dive, the soon-to-be certified girls were lucky enough to see a sea turtle and some puffer-fish! We spent the past two days putting our new PADI certifications to good use – with one soft coral dive yesterday afternoon and two nearly one-hour soft coral dives this morning. Anne Carter crossed two major things off her Fiji bucket list this morning: seeing (and touching) a sea turtle and diving to a ship wreck! Olivia impressed us all with her multiple front flips underwater, while Katie quickly became the underwater GoPro guru with her super cool selfie stick. Kasey distinguished herself as the expert shark and puffer-fish spotter under the water – she was always incredibly tuned into her environment and exemplified our Moondance motto of “living in the moment!” Although we are sad to be wrapping up our time together here in Fiji, we celebrated all the fun memories we shared at banquet over a delicious meal – but not quite as delicious as Maddie’s daily Oceanus Club sandwich that will be surely missed! Mary Brice sported the most hilarious look with a ‘I Love Fiji’ colorful hat, every flower jewelry piece you could imagine, a colorful sulu (skirt), and gigantic knockoff designer sunglasses. We are looking forward to spending our last day here on a catamaran exploring the nearby islands. Mode (goodnight) for now!
All is well,
Rebecca and Mary Moran
June 24, 2017
Bula bula from our beach side bungalows! The past two days at Fiji Beachouse have been rejuvenating, relaxing, and spectacularly fun. Upon our arrival, we immediately sprinted to the beach (screeching with joy the whole way), stuck our toes in the mushy white sand, and watched as the crystal clear blue water washed over our feet. Up until that point, we had not spent time on the beach, so we were thrilled to kick back, relax, and take in the postcard-like scene. On our first full day, the tide was not high until late afternoon, so the girls explored the part of the beach that would soon be covered with water during low tide, listened to music, and basked in good company and laughter in one of the many hammocks sprinkled across the beach. Before we knew it, it was time to hit the waves. We took a little boat out to where the waves were breaking, and Katie instantly impressed the whole group by mastering her surf board and showing off with some tricky moves. We think all the girls can agree that surfing is a real workout! As the sun sunk away behind the protruding palm trees and faded away into the water, the Fijian fire dancing show began. The girls were wowed by the smooth and synchronized dance moves exhibited by the Fijians, who were decked out in palm leaf skirts and leis. Kasey tried to entice one of the dancers to give us a private show during our Moonup, but it ended with the group breaking out our dance moves and truly embracing ‘Fiji time’. The next morning, we created a new take on ‘breakfast-in-bed’ and had ‘breakfast-in-hammocks’, which we all agreed we could get used to. Later the same morning, we took a short Bula bus and boarded a boat for travels to a neighboring island. This was our first time off the main island in Fiji, and we could not wait to explore! This hidden island contained the clearest most aqua waters yet, partnered with exotic views worthy of royalty. Mary Brice was the first in the group to attempt the stand up paddle board, and with only a few slips, quickly caught the hang of it. We were all wowed by Lillian’s ability to completely transform Rebecca into a mermaid; we all agreed that this was one of the most impressive sand sculpting abilities we have ever seen. Olivia initiated a group climb to the top tier of the boat, where Maddie did multiple flips off of (we had a great photo-op here!!). Everyone cherished this luxurious day of snorkeling, inspecting coral, and finally getting that Fijian suntan (don’t worry we loaded up on sunscreen)! The boat delivered us back to our beachfront resort just in time for tea time! Anne Carter and Katie found a new love for these tea rolls, detailing an elaborate plot on how to smuggle them into the US. We feel that the group really deserved getting to stay at this awesome resort for three nights, especially after our intensive cultural immersion section. We are all rested and ready to tackle scuba diving!
Until next time!
-Rebecca and Mary Moran
June 22, 2017
(“Hello” in Wainadiro dialect)
We just wrapped up our time in Wainadiro Village and left with heavy hearts and many new friends. We began this section of our journey whitewater rafting down the Navua River, which is engulfed by lush rain forests and beautiful waterfalls. During our rafting excursion down the Navua River, the first students to submerge in the water were Anne Carter and Kasey, who handled falling in like champs and continued to float down the river while taking in the surroundings. Lillian quickly befriended the official rafting photographer and jumped ship to try out his duckie raft through the rapids, while hilariously posing and making the rest of the group become “weak” (which means exploding into full-belly, barely breathing, all-consuming laughter). After a full day of rafting, we arrived to the village tired, but full of excitement and anticipation of what was to come.
On our first night of our stay in Wainadiro Village, they held a welcome ceremony to formally invite us all to become part of their family. Casey expressed nervousness about attending this ceremony, but she overcame her fears and participated in the ritual flawlessly. We rested well that night with dreams of meeting all the village children. The next morning we hiked to the primary school for the children of Wainadiro and repainted the bathroom, a classroom, and the playground. Katie’s leadership skills became apparent as she facilitated a group decision on which colors should be used for specific buildings. In the process, she managed to get blue paint all over herself but turned it into a paint war, which had the whole group covered in seconds. After a well-deserved lunch break, the group got to play with the students and learned many Fijian games, as well as teaching the kids some American ones. We cannot explain why, but the village children always gravitated towards Olivia’s hair; they were constantly pulling at it and fighting over who got to braid it next. Olivia handled this undesirable situation selflessly and continued to let them play with her hair because she enjoyed how happy it made them feel.
Back at Wainadiro, Maddie initiated a tickle fight with Setae, a mischievous three year old boy, who quickly infiltrated his way into our group with his rambunctious spirit.
We were especially fortunate to be in the village on a Sunday, the sacred day in which no work is done. That morning, we walked about thirty feet from our homestay to the village church to attend their weekly Sunday service. As we listened to the service, which was mostly in Fijian, we reflected on all that we had learned from our friends in Wainadiro during our short time there. On our last morning, the girls decided to walk the village students down to the long boat and wave them goodbye as they rode down the river to the school. “Wainadiro” in Fijan means “to remember,” and we are certain that our time in the village will definitely not be forgotten. From the heartwarming welcome to the heart jerking goodbye, the students truly delved into their culture and discovered some of the ways in which the people of Wainadiro navigate their daily lives.
Buckling our life vests and grabbing our river paddles, we headed back out of the Navua River in our own personal duckies, with a quick waterfall hike during our lunch break. Overall, we have had a couple of extremely exhilarating days, coupled with the challenges of being in a foreign environment. Our experiences rafting and in the village have brought us closer together as a group, and we are thrilled at how well the girls are bonding with each other. We want to give a special shoutout to Mary Brice, who has been a constant source of positivity and genuine kindness that has certainly contributed to the group’s success. We look forward to days of relaxing and surfing at Fiji Beachhouse!!! MODE for now!
~Rebecca, Mary Moran, and JC~
Bula bula from the other side of the international dateline! Although we have had several tiresome travel days, we are eagerly awaiting our rafting section up the Navua River early tomorrow morning and cannot wait to begin our service portion of the trip in Wainadiro Village. After arriving in Nadi this morning at 5:30am, we drove through lush forests along the coast to Pacific Harbor. On the way to our beach dormitory, we stopped at an amazing restaurant right on the beach and ate yummy Fijian donuts recommended by the chef herself! Olivia ordered a coconut snowball (ice cream rolled in finely chopped coconut topped with caramel), which was a unique Fijian take on the snowballs at home! Anne Carter surprised us all by not ordering a fresh fruit smoothie, after having confessed her deep love for all fruits – seems like she chose the right trip. Katie and Maddie bought brightly colored Fijian pants at a sweet local shop, and we then hopped back in the van and admired the scenery while Kasey captured some awesome footage with the GoPro.
While enjoying our outdoor lunch, Mary Brice suggested we all take a dip into the crystal clear water – her great sense of adventure kept us all energized through our travel sleepiness. As we write this, there’s a beeeeeeautiful rainbow above the wooden hut we’ve been lounging under for the past few hours while playing silly games of “veggie off” and getting to know one another a bit more. Lillian enthralled the group with her numerous games in which the point is to NOT laugh, all the while hysterically laughing- no shocker there! We are thrilled to be here and can’t wait for all the adventures ahead!
~Rebecca, Mary Moran, and JC~
Lillian – hey I’m having an awesome time! Hardy would be a great surprise for when I get home!
Kasey – hey I’m having a blast in Fiji! I miss and love y’all!
Katie – hi I hope you’re having fun at the beach! I’m having fun! Don’t forget to water my plants and say hi to Ruthie!
Anne Carter – hey I’m having fun miss y’all! Haven’t seen any monkeys yet.
Mary Brice – say hey to Julie for me! Hope y’all are having fun in Albany, and I love you!
Olivia – hey, miss you! Tell Fran I say hey and please feed my fish.
Maddie – hey I miss you and hope you’re having fun in Atlanta. Love you!
June 14, 2017
Hi Fiji Families!
We’ve spoken with the leaders, and everyone has touched down in Nadi, Fiji! We’re excited for the adventure to begin! Stay tuned!
-The Moondance Administrative Team