Fiji, Election Day and the concept of resorts

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Bula! That’s hello from Fiji! Frank and I usually aren’t “resort people” but considering that our 3-day visit to Fiji was basically a scenic jet-lag reliever, the Westin Denaru Resort provided a relaxing and pleasant stay. Denaru Island is connected by causeway to Fiji’s main island of Vita Levu and is 10 lm from the international airport. Vita Levu is pretty big, with 600,000 residents (60% of Fiji’s population). Most tourists stay in this area but many others use it as a jump-off point to other islands. You can find countless boat and helicopter day trips as well. The natives are very friendly and we met many tourists (mostly from “nearby” New Zealand and Australia) who gave us great tips for the rest of our trip.

Wednesday was Fiji Election Day, a public holiday. You think our ballots are confusing? Fiji voters had a choice of over 300 candidates! After marking a ballot with the number of their preferred candidate, each voter has one of their fingers dipped in ink to prevent voting twice. Other than tourist spots, businesses were closed and newspaper ads encouraged people to report employers who would not allow them time off to vote.

It was a very important day for Fiji citizens but on the resort, you’d never know it. It was business as usual. I think the concept of a resort as an isolated and insulated paradise is probably why we tend to shy away from them. Frank and I both prefer being out among the locals and exploring. It tends to be a much richer experience.

 

Fiji, continued

OK, I take back some of what I said about resorts. This is heavenly. Fiji IS a wonderful place to relax as you cross the Pacific. It’s very affordable and features everything you’d want in an island paradise — sunshine, palm trees, ocean breezes and gentle surf. I have seen better beaches but those on the other islands might be nicer. Frank and I were more than content with the pools and our seaside lawn chairs.

The best feature of Fiji is its locals. Those who worked at the resort and the few we met outside it (our cab driver and cafe workers in the marina area) were so kind and extremely helpful. They were engaging and really appreciative of the few extra dollars Frank would slip them. Our favorite waiter, Net, actually gathered his co-workers during our final breakfast and they sang to us!