Early Tuesday morning Jess and I were awoken by the all too familiar cries of our little sister sunshine! We could sense it was going to be a big day so we were well prepared for our daily 7.45 briefing, today we would not be singing for the team! Stephen and Henry arrived at our home shortly after to collect us both and we were met with the dilemma of the day; shoes or no shoes? After a reassuring word from Wani, our guide for the morning, we opted to leave our shoes behind. Barefoot in the wilderness we set off for the plantation, water in one hand, camera in the other. Roughly five minutes into our travels it became clear that we had already made a mistake that morning, while trying to negotiate a muddy ditch it became apparent that shoes would have been handy… or footy? Nevertheless the four of us soldiered on despite Jess resembling Bambi on ice. It was a challenging uphill trek under the glaring sun and by the time we caught up with some fellow villagers we’d broken out into a serious sweat, lucky for us one of the many great things about Nairai is its abundance of coconut trees and before we could blink Waqa had shimmered up one and was knocking them down. Despite being conned by the notorious coconut man shortly after arriving in Nadi, I was willing to give coconut another try and to our delight it was one of our better decisions made that day. After a refreshing break we continued to trek through what I can only describe as a scene from Lost; not long before we arrived at the plantation we were met with the second major decision of the day, what to do next? Wani suggested we proceed up to the centre of the island and although his precious advice had been less than helpful we took it anyway!
An hour later, after a lot of crawling and a close call with two rather larger spiders and their webs we had arrived at our destination. This is when, simultaneously, we all had an epiphany; there was a reason we had come to Fiji, and this was it. Aptly dissembled by Jess as a view you would see on a postcard, some may say this was a pivotal moment for the four of us. Looking out onto the South Pacific with Gau and Batiki looming in the background and Vutuna, another village on Nairai, we realised that it had been well worth the walk
We began our descent, once we had taken in the scenery and after only a few steps we realised that this would be our greatest challenge of the day. As we wondered home, Wani and I were interrupted from our conversation by the screams and cries for help from Jess, Ste and Henry who were all now on their bums, another wave of regret struck as we realised how much easier this would have been in shoes. Wani and I enjoyed a good laugh at the expense of the others misfortune and as Karma would have it, moments later Sophy was also on her bum sliding down one hill. We stopped off at a ‘natural tepee’ with another cracking view which Jess and I took advantage of, with yet another ‘selfie’, only to be disturbed by the high pitch yelps from Henry who was being attacked by ants. It was more or less the same story on our downward journey, lots of slips and lots of ant bites, which again could have been avoided if we had worn shoes! Even Wani, a hardened Fijian tripped on the way back, this was when we knew we had conquered something big. It was without a doubt one of the best mornings to be had and a great insight into the typical day of a villager.