Field Notes

Fiji 2B • June 28-July 14, 2018

Scuba Diving Success!

July 12, 2018

Yadra from Pacific Harbor, Fiji, friends and family! The Fiji 2B’s quest is coming to a close and bu- la- la do we have a lot to report! After leaving our beloved friends in Wainadiro, we paddled on down the Navua River, reinvigorated our adventurous spirits at the Wainikavou waterfall, and made our way to begin the scuba section of this fantastic Fiji adventure. On the first day, the crew zipped up their wetsuits, strapped on their BCD’s, and hit the pool with the infamous dive instructors, Louis and Ely.  Everyone began with some on land review in the morning. The instructors then split up the kids into two groups for the confined water dives and exercises to make sure everyone felt confident and ready to hit the open water! The first group, Mikayla, Abby, Walter, Palmer, and Abby, practiced in the pool then hit the arts village and the second group, Chidsey, Ella, Isabella, Alex, and Atkins, went to the beach in the morning and then practiced after lunch. That night, we all came back together for dinner at a nearby resort and had a beachside, starlit Moonup with a couple of ghost stories that left Isabella sleeping with her sunglasses on.

The next couple of days diving around the Beqa Lagoon’s hard and soft coral gardens were an absolute blast. Each morning, the crew eagerly geared up, hopped on the boat, and swam under the exotic fish filled, polychromatic sea. And by the end of the third day, everyone became officially certified scuba divers!  Diving in the soft coral capital of the world amongst hundreds of fluorescent blue and yellow tangs, clownfish, and parrotfish offered a pretty stellar first dive experience, to say the least!

When we weren’t diving, the group explored the local arts village, hung out on the beach, and played cards. Also, with the help of Walter, we placed bets on the world cup and woke up early each morning to watch the games. At night, everyone had a blast cooking dinner and having dance parties during and after we ate. In particular, everyone was blown away by Isabella and Chidsey’s moves that endured from start to finish within each and every dance session.  One of the three nights we cooked in, the group, led by a freshly hair beaded and braided Mikayla and Maggie, hosted a dinner for the Rivers Fiji team who took care of us throughout Wainadiro. They cooked up some yummy chicken spaghetti and spearheaded two teams in a dessert off judged by the rivers Fiji guides. While both teams rocked the house with their treats and presentations, Mikayla’s team, “The Rocking River Rafters” and their dance to “Cold Water” as well as their two-layer chocolate cake complete with Oreo rapids resembling the Upper Navua River nearly won with a seven-point lead.  And even though Maggie’s team fell short, the Rivers Fiji judges thoroughly enjoyed their Oreo balls, matching hoodies and sunglasses, and spirited entrance to Dr. Dre’s “Still D.R.E.”

For our last day of diving, Louis took us an hour out by boat to “Fantasy Island,” and we think everyone can agree it was the best dive yet.  On the way there, everyone relaxed on the “Island Sprint” gazing out into the ocean and Palmer, Abby, and Katherine climbed on top of the roof to jam to some girly tunes and peer out at the surrounding Bega and Vatulele islands.  Knowing these dives by “Fantasy Island” would be our last, the crew took full advantage of every minute under the sea. We gave group hugs underwater, held hands in one big line and butterfly kicked together, and danced with some underwater dabbing. Alex and Palmer offered up some fantastic hand hugs, and Ella even invented an underwater language! Overall, the crew enjoyed each and every moment swimming through the reef passages smothered in the rich dark red, orange, and purple soft coral and marveling at the dense masses of tropical fish tangled within their home as well as hanging in the current above. After a dazzling day of diving, we spent our last official night in Fiji together at the Baka Blues restaurant for our banquet dinner.  We got a little taste of some Southern cooking under the stars and after the banquet dinner, Alex spontaneously got up on stage with a blues trio and rocked out on the keys! Everyone watched in amazement and bopped our heads to their jam session. Then, Robby jumped on stage too and together, our two Fiji Moondancers performed “Soul Fight” for the entire restaurant. It was a night to remember! After Robby and Katherine got on the mic and handed out paper plate trip awards, the waitresses and blues trio sang “Isa Isa” to us, which is a Fijian farewell song, and we parted ways with our new friends and packed our bags for the early morning ahead. Now, we are off for our last day together in Nadi for a catamaran boat ride and some snorkeling! We’ll be back soon with the final report!

 

Peace and Love!

Robby and Katherine

 


Home Away from Home

July 7, 2018

BULA, folks!

The gang has just safely made it back from the Wainadiro village and can’t wait to fill everyone in on our magical times in the highlands of Fiji!  Our journey began early in the morning as we loaded the bus from the beach house to the upper Navua River, also known as the “River of Eden” or the “Grand Canyon.” We began our quest with our raft guides Ben, Simi, Joe, and Noah and everyone was in a constant state of bewilderment due to the incredibly steep, narrow canyon rock walls. And as our bright purple and yellow rafts swerved back and forth, we couldn’t help but stare in amazement at the layers upon layers of magical sedimentary rock formed eons and eons ago. For lunch, we stopped on the side of the river for some yummy sandwiches and pineapple and then continued on to discover a waterfall where everyone popped out of their boats and ran under for a jungle shower! After our time at the waterfall, we continued down the rich green rapids telling jokes and riddles as well as waging raft wars between our three rafts and hilarious river guides.

Upon arrival to the village, we tied on some colorful sulus and settled into our new, bright blue abode. After some Mexican style burritos, we walked over to the chief’s home for a welcoming ceremony. Our guide, Simi, introduced us to the chief and asked him on behalf of our group in their province’s language for permission to stay in the village. And after we all went around and each said what we were most excited for during our time in the village, the chief welcomed us into the community and established we were no longer a part of America; but rather, a part of the family in the Wainadiro village.  The ceremony truly made the crew feel right at home, and we spent the rest of the night laughing and getting to know everyone in the village as we sat in a circle on the floor of the chief’s home.

On our full first day in Wainadiro, our sulu sporting squad woke to the roosters and drums for the first time. What a way to kick off our unique Fourth of July! While we ate some eggs, bacon, and toast whipped up by our culinary God of a guide Dre, we all realized that because of the international dateline we were probably the first Americans to celebrate our Independence Day! Feeling worldly and full after breakfast, we hiked up a crazy steep trail to the village’s primary school and began our service project building a nurse’s quarters with our guides Simi and Mark. Because it was the Fourth of July, everyone thought it’d be a good idea to show off some American patriotism to our fellow Fijians, who are also children of Great Britain, and sing our national anthem. The headmaster gathered the entire school, and we lined up, pretended like we were Christina Aguilera singing at the super bowl, and attempted to belt out our nation’s song with overwhelming gusto and pride. We aren’t too sure how melodious we sounded, but definitely had a blast showing the kids a bit of our culture back home. After we explained a little bit of our history, we asked to hear their national anthem and everyone got tons of chill bumps watching a sea of blue and gingham-clad kids patriotically belt out their country’s song. It was a pretty epic morning, to say the least.  We spent the morning repairing walls and floors and then after lunch, the headmaster asked us to be the keynote speakers for the school’s international “say no to drugs” day. It was a bit spur of the moment, but our crew rose to the unexpected challenge and educated the entire school on legal and illegal drug use to the best of our abilities.

Following the children’s performance of a song called “hugs not drugs,” we took the long, adventurous way home on a pink and orange tropical wildflower filled trail along the river. And once we arrived in Wainadiro, the crew took a refreshing river bath and then all hung out on our porch where Dre provided us with some hot drinks and incredible Oreos and guacamole chips that disappeared at an alarming speed.  That night, we celebrated America’s birthday under our tin-roofed porch eating Fijian curry and talking about what we had taken for granted in America as well as Walter’s love of Brazilian soda.

On the second morning in the village, we woke up to the sound of rain as well as the smell of Dre cooking up some big, fluffy pancakes. Because of the weather, we had a delayed start on our work at the school, but we took advantage of the extra time and played loads of hilarious rounds of “mafia” on the porch spearheaded by Palmer, or to the river guides, “Miss Alabama.”  Once the rain stopped, everyone grabbed their gear and headed back up to the school for another day of service building and playing with the kids. After school, we saw the kids off, and instead of a hike, Abby bravely went first and led us home on a swim down the river and into the village. Once we swam to shore and dried off, Dre served up some special Fijian treats that were died a patriotic shade of blue in honor of our Independence Day, and MiKayla conducted a round of the game “psychiatrist” on the porch for hours.  That night, we went to a ceremony at Mateo, Mala, and Grace’s home where we presented our donations to all the families in the village and a couple of the mothers taught us how to weave bracelets and rings. Overall, everyone had an awesome night getting to know everyone better. A few of the little girls from the village gave Chidsey a fresh hairdo, Maggie and Bella went to town weaving bracelets, and one of the mothers, Saniana, even gave Ella a special cloth necklace that women wear on their wedding days!

For our last day of service, we finished up the structure of the nurse’s quarters and helped out at the school. While the kids were away at a wedding ceremony for a couple in the village, we prepared different fun spelling and math quizzes for each grade and gave them upon their return in the afternoon. At the end of the school day, Walter helped snap some awesome pictures of Atkins and Alex serving as human jungle gyms, and everyone played with kids and sadly hugged goodbye to all our new friends. That night, we met up with the other Moondance crew staying in the next cabin hashing out stories of our adventure thus far, shared massive plates of spaghetti, and went over to the chief’s house for a farewell ceremony. After the women placed beautiful flower necklaces on our necks and the men wiped white, sweet smelling Fijian powder on our faces, everyone thanked the people of Wainadiro for their overwhelming kindness and hospitality. All in all, words cannot even begin to describe how the village changed our lives. Spending time with the Wainadiro people reminded us all to love and appreciate everyone and everything a little more, and we all hope to take that lesson back home. That night, everyone went to bed filled with gratitude for this incredible experience and woke up revived and ready for our next adventure down the Navua river. As the village children pushed our duckies into the water, we said goodbye to our temporary home and continued our journey to Pacific Harbor for scuba diving! That’s all for now folks!

Katherine and Robby

 

Shoutouts:

Abby- Hey guys, I miss you but I’m having so so so much fun here!! See you soon!!!

Isabella- Hey Mom and Dad, I’m having so much fun! Love and miss y’all! See you

soon!

Walter- hey guys, Fiji has been awesome. I’m super excited to start scuba diving tomorrow. See ya’ll soon.

Alex- hey guys im having a really fun time all the way out in Fiji    see you guys soon

 

Atkins- Hey!! I’m having a great time! Hope ya’ll had a fun fourth of July. See ya’ll in a week.

 

Ella-  hey everybody!!! I’m having so much fun!!! Miss yall

 

Palmer- Hey, I am having so much fun and rafting was awesome! I love you!!!!

 

Chidsey- Hey family, hope all is well! I have been having an absolute blast and will

see you in about a week!:)

 

MiKayla- Hey fam, I’m having so much fun here! Fiji is so pretty and the people here are so sweet. I’ll see you soon, miss you!

 

Maggie- Hi Mom and Dad, I’m having such a blast here!!! Miss you and I’ll see you soon!! :]]


BULA, BULA, BULA

July 2, 2018

BULA, BULA, BULA all the way from Komave, Fiji!! Family and friends, wow. We have only been together three days, but we have much to report! Our first day in Fiji began early in the morning at the Nadi airport where our new crew of ten assembled and enjoyed some local Fiji waters and coconut cookies.  We leaders felt like kids on Christmas morning and could not wait to hit the ground running!

Our first stop was to a nearby resort to wait on our bus and have our first Fiji breakfast altogether. After some coffee, bread, jam, and pineapples we fully submerged ourselves into the Fiji spirit by putting on our swimsuits and playing around in the resort’s pool as well as sliding down the water slide. While some swam, Walter sported his new tropical button over on the tennis court with Atkins and Alex as they all played some tennis!

After some fun in the sun, we grabbed our bags and hopped on a bus to Komave to begin our surfing section of the trip. We arrived at our beach house just in time for a big lunch including burgers, fish and chips, and a variety of sandwiches and wraps. Afterward, all made our way to the breathtaking beach complete with breathtaking views and net hammocks hung by massive, lush palm trees. Mikayla and Isabella were particularly adventurous and climbed up a palm tree that looked straight out of a Dr. Seuss book, growing out sideways over the white sandy beach, while Palmer went out into the ocean and found a bright blue starfish! After we got to know each other by sharing stories about our best personal encounters with squirrels, the leaders and the girls participated in some sunset yoga overlooking a breathtaking sunset while the boys enjoyed the view from the water in their kayaks.  For dinner, we had a “BBQ,” which differed from any barbeque we’ve seen back home as it had spaghetti, calamari, chicken, and steak.  After our peculiarly defined, but delicious dinner, we held our inaugural Moonup under some incredibly radiant, ginormous stars. And as we sat in our circle in the fluffy sand and marveled up into the clear sky, each person voiced what he or she was most excited about as well as their personal goals for our Fiji adventure.

On the second day, we rose with the sun and went SURFING! After breakfast by the beach, Katherine lead group movement on the yoga deck overlooking the ocean, getting everyone’s blood pumping before we hit the waves for the first time.  Once everyone felt jazzed for the day, we met up with our surf instructor, Lessi, who is the number one surfer in all of Fiji! Once he taught us the necessary skills on land, we rode out into the Pacific Ocean on our trusty boat named the “Yeah Buoy.” Maggie and Atkins immediately “got pitted” conquering many sick swells together as Palmer gave Lessie, a run for his money making him shriek with laughter the whole lesson.  In the afternoon, we strapped on our Chacos and channeled our inner Tarzan by spontaneously taking on a jungle trek to a magical waterfall.  It was quite the adventure as the hike took us through thick, muddy terrain and multiple river and streams. Along with experiencing our first taste of jungle life, we saw some wild pigs that Abby immediately named Bob and Jerry. Why? We are not too sure, but all agreed that our new friends fit those names perfectly.

 

After we cleaned the thick layers of orange Fijian mud off our limbs, Alex, Walter, Claire, Abby, and some others paddled around on double kayaks and watched the most fantastic sunset filled with rosy pinks, soft yellows, soothing oranges, light purples, and every color in between. Not one of us had ever seen so many colors in the sky at once, and we decided this sunset had to have been the inspiration for the tropical edition of skittles and starbursts. After the sunset, Ella, who has one of the best poker faces ever, led some heated rounds of card games as we enjoyed a big bowl of chocolate ice cream for a dinner appetizer. And then, at one big table, the group chowed down on some margarita pizzas and salads under a grass roof by the ocean. Needless to say, we all felt like some Fijian kings and queens.

Today, we wrapped up the first section of our trip and enjoyed our last morning of surfing the swells. The afternoon was spent enjoying Fiji Beach house with games of soccer and volleyball against our new friends on the staff, followed by a delicious dinner of lamb chops, sweet and sour pork tenderloins, and veggie frittatas.  After Moonup and with hearts and stomachs full, everyone began excitingly packing their stuff for the next leg of our fantastic Fiji adventure. We can hardly sleep knowing the swift, majestic rapids of The Navua River, also known as the “River of Eden,” await us as we get ready to make our way into the highland jungles to join the people of the Wainidiro Village.  We excitedly anticipate the soak in the rich culture and zesty adventures that awaits around the bend and look forward to updating you all again soon on the other side.

 

Moce! (Talk to you all soon!)

Robby and Katherine


All Arrived in FIji!

June 29, 2018

Hello Fiji Families,

We are writing with some exciting news – all Fiji groups have landed safely with all their bags in tow! We are so excited for them, can’t wait to hear from them soon!

-Moondance HQ


Students

  • Alex
  • Isabella
  • Claire
  • Abby
  • Maggie
  • Ella
  • MiKayla
  • Walter
  • Atkins
  • Palmer

Staff