Fiji (Photo creds: Leo Kaplan)
I went to Fiji when I was an 11 year old 6th grader. I want to start off by saying that I was really young, and I honestly don’t remember much about the trip. But what I do remember, I’ll write about. And some of what I don’t remember can be filled in by the photos taken by my stepdad that my mom emailed me when I asked for them.
This family trip to Fiji was my very first time out of the country. I don’t even know what island or area I was in. I just know we were somewhere near Taveuni, which I know because I saw that written on a sign in one of the photos that was taken on a day trip we went on. My mom, stepdad, sister, and I went with our family friends – a mom, a dad, and their daughter who was my age, and son who was my sisters age. We were all really good friends at the time and spent a lot of weekends and trips together. I remember when us 4 kids walked into the room we would all be sharing, there was only 2 beds and immediately, the brother and sister jumped onto each and claimed them. At first, my sister Bella and I were upset because as children, we didn’t realize that we would get beds by bedtime, all we knew was that we didn’t have beds NOW and in our minds that was something to be upset about. Of course eventually, whoever was running the rental of the house brought in two more beds for us, and that was that. Ironically, the two beds that were originally in the room, the beds that the other kids chose as theirs, had bed bugs. My sister and I were fine, while our young friends were itching and scratching the entire time. (Apparently karma doesn’t discriminate against children).
The 8 of us rented a beach house with a private beach. I vaguely remember what the outside of the house looked like, and it actually appeared in a crazy dream that I had when I was maybe 15. I can’t really describe the house now, because the memory of it is much too vague to pick up details, but it was very tropical looking. I remember coconut trees in the backyard. I remember the really long, steep, and narrow staircase that led from our beach house to the private beach. I also remember the TERRIFYING and ginormous spider that was in a big spiderweb right on the edge of the staircase. (I’m petrified of spiders…) I remember that every time we had to walk past it, I would hold my breath and press myself sideways against the opposite railing to get as far from this spider as I could, because as I said, this was a really narrow staircase.
I remember walking down some main street many times, it was the same street, and always seeing many different fruit stands with coconuts and pineapples and tons of other delicious locally grown fruits. I remember the most adorable ‘Tea House’ on the main street where you can go in and have some tea and tasty pastries, and it was painted and decorated very doll-ish, which was different from how Fiji homes and buildings typically look. I remember seeing so many flowers that I’d never seen before, like the hibiscus, and all these flowers inspired my theme for my Bat Mitzvah the following year. (A Bat Mitzvah is a coming of age celebration for Jewish girls at age 12. Jewish boys have their Bar Mitzvah at age 13).
The last thing I remember from the trip is driving about an hour to this spot right here. This is the 180º Meridian Line in Taveuni (this is the photo I mentioned before), also known as the international date line, and from what I understood, it was the line where there was a 24 hour time difference. On one side of the line is today, and the other side of the line is yesterday. Of course we did what all tourists do, and took photos with half of our body on each side. I didn’t understand the idea of time change yet, so this whole thing was really confusing to me at the time, but I remember thinking how cool it was that I was able to stand in two different days.
One day I’ll go back to Fiji, and actually remember things and learn more about the country, but for now those memories, and my stepdad’s photos, are all I’ve got.