Counting down to the end of our honeymoon, we had to do something incredible to close out such an outstanding vacation. Fortunately, “Lalati”:http://lalati-fiji.com offered just such a package, and at the outrageously low price typical of the venue — a day away at a private, secluded beach, with picnic lunch, booze, and two one-hour massages per person. Frankly, we’d been looking forward to this high point since we started to research the resort, and getting out there and getting it done was essential; being blocked by high winds on Thursday, when we’d planned to go out, only increased our determination. Friday, we finally made it, paddling our kayaks with more than a little dispatch as we worked our way to the beach even before the motorboat would have arrived to take us there.
There’s little to do on a private beach, which is just the way it should be. We sat in beach chairs, drank Fiji Bitter, read books, and looked at the ocean; sometimes, we stepped into the little reed hut to change into a bathing suit or a sarong. Lalati resort motorboated out the massage therapists and we each got two one hour massages; the therapists kayaked back. There was a lovely lunch with grilled meats and pasta salad. The only people we saw all day were some jetskiers, a good 3-400 yards away. That’s what I call vacation!
Evening brought a private dinner on the end of Lalati pier, all by ourselves, surrounded by the dark water. It was quiet and romantic and the perfect conclusion to a honeymoon.
Dinner was, as ever, delicious, although cold winds picked up just at dessert time and we sought shelter in the main dining room.
Which was totally different from the evening before — the firewalking ceremony. In all of Fiji, apparently only a few villages, all on Beqa island, do firewalking, so the local villagers came over to show us their unique skill. It’s a special, mystic ability, and firewalkers must abstain from eating coconut and making love with their wives for four days before the ceremony. Actually, they’d been supposed to do the show on Monday, but for some reason they had to delay it. My money was on coconut. Anyway, dressed in traditional dyed bamboo skirts, the men put on quite a show.
The firewalking was preceded by a “kava”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kava ceremony, and who could say no to that? We sat with the villagers and saw them make the traditional Fijian kava preparation, which, as Wikipedia very accurately describes it, tastes rather like dirt.
As anybody who remembers being four years old knows, dirt is fun and at least pretend delicious. So is Kava. You clap twice before the drink is passed to you, say “bula!” — which I thought meant “hello” but I guess is more of an all-purpose word, like shalom or aloha — then drink up out of a communal coconut shell, then say “vinaka!” or thank you as you pass the coconut shell back. Mrs. DJ L’il Bit was much better at savvying the local tradition than I, and drank her kava correctly from the first time; it took me 4 or 5 cups to get it right, although the smile from the cup-passer made it worth it. (The priest earlier telling me to “wait your turn” was rather embarrassing.) Kava made my tongue numb quickly, and after a few drinks I suppose my head was slightly fuzzy too.
Mrs. DJ L’il Bit was very calm and relaxed after her kava, which, if you know her at all, means that it was a unique and special night. With a result like that, I’ll be mixing kava at home. We slept very well but I didn’t have any particular dreams — maybe the easy relaxation at the private beach came from the kava? Or maybe just from the beautiful beach.
Our last day on Fiji, Saturday, was the subject of much planning. The boat off of Beqa island was at 8:30am, and our flight out at 10pm; what would we do for that time? Frankly, we just wanted to sit by the pool or on our veranda, but we had to catch our boat. For a while, a “jungle canopy tour”:http://zip-fiji.com/ was well in the lead, but we also wanted to make sure we had time to get our souvenir shopping in. Planning for one thing or the other, we got up at 5am to see the sunrise — not that early to wake up, it turns out, when you go to bed shortly after it gets dark! And it was worth it.
Then we got the good news: the boat had broken down, and we’d be taking another boat in closer to noon. A half day sitting in the sun — perfect! Just what we’d wanted. We got to enjoy our incredible, beautiful island for another morning.
That left enough time to get our souvenir shopping done, grab a bite to eat, and get to the airport. While we both wanted to eat at an authentic Fijian restaurant, since we’d had somewhat sanitized resort food the whole time, exposing our stomachs to something new and unfamiliar right before an 11 hour plane ride didn’t seem like the smartest of all ideas, so we ended up at the Hard Rock Cafe. Hopefully, taking the “kokoda-making”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/milngavie/2675027647/ class a few days earlier at least partially made up for the inauthenticity.
Finally, we had an 11-hour flight home on “Air Pacific”:http://www.airpacific.com/. Mrs. DJ L’il Bit wore her veil on check-in and I asked for something special for our honeymoon and the nice airline staffer set us up with a row of 3 seats to ourselves. Mrs. DJ L’il Bit stretched out across them and slept with her head on my lap; I, as usual, didn’t need any help to sleep most of the flight away. And then we arrived home, one hour after we left Lalati, and that was it for our honeymoon. Or, at least, for the travel part, because I have to say, we’re still pretty disgustingly cute together. I hope that’ll stick around for a long time.
fn1. Brides-to-be: wearing your veil makes everyone want to do nice things for you! It got us champagne on Air New Zealand — make sure to bring yours with you!
fn2. Or, 25 hours later and, thanks to the International Date Line, one day earlier.