SO, Fiji then. First came the break:
We flew out to Fiji together for a family holiday, staying at a small resort with accessible accommodation called First Landing
The flight was a few hours late in landing, so our first experience of
Fiji came under cover of darkness. It is a strange experience to arrive
in a new country, drive to you accommodation and check in with very
little sense of your surroundings.
The heat and humidity were
obvious, as was the sense that this was the rainy season (one of two
seasons Fiji enjoys, the other being the dry season). The enthusiastic
leaps of frogs on the paths and the darting runs of the geckos revealed
the tropical nature of our surroundings, and the resort was nestled
among mature trees, coconut palms and lush shrubs.
On our first
morning, we swam in the pool as huge drops of warm rain fell all around
us. This set the tone and pace for the rest of the week. The
accommodation was well appointed, with a strong pragmatic quality to the
solutions that the resort had come up with in terms of access.
The cast concrete shower seat, for example: concrete furnishings make for a sturdy accessible shower.
did go for a couple of trips out, firstly to Lautoka to visit the food
market, so that we could take advantage of our self-catering
accommodation. When we arrived in the small city our travelling circus
immediately turned heads, something I put down to my front wheel
attachment, which makes my chair into more of an offroader, essential in
a city where the footpaths are very cracked and uneven. In hindsight,
the wheel had little to do with the interest we attracted, but I will
return to that subject in part 2.
Having stopped for a lunch of
Indian food, we headed for the market, where I edged my way between the
produce piled on the ground around the outskirts of the covered market,
inching along trying to avoid leaving a river of pulped fruit in my
The trip to the supermarket was a step too far, as the
gradient on the ramp into the shop was 1 in 2. Instead I sat outside
with my son on my lap. As we turned so many heads, I inadvertently said
"Everyone's staring at us."
This is not the kind of
comment I like to make in front of the boy. At 3 years old, his capacity
for shy is easily triggered, and I was worried that he would feel
He clearly was, but his response was not that of a shrinking violet.
Instead he shared his observations with the crowd.
"THAT MAN'S STARING AT US!....SHE'S STARING AT US!.....THOSE KIDS ARE STARING," etc.
I soon became uncomfortable at the way he scrutinized people so blatantly.
second outing was on a catamaran out to the miniscule island of Savala,
a blob of sand with a shelter, kitchen and a few kayaks on it. To walk
the coast of this land mass would take about 10 minutes.
outward journey, we stopped above a small reef and everyone dropped into
the ocean for a bit of snorkeling. This is something I enjoy very much,
especially as it's an activity I can share with my daughter, so I threw
myself enthusiastically into the water with everyone else. In case you
are thinking, gentle reader, that this is one of those yarns where I end
up flailing around in the Pacific, unable to access the ladder back
onto the boat, fear not. We had already scoped out the other boat that
accompanied us which had a water level platform at the back, so I knew
that I could get aboard. I then got to ride on the back step as the boat tore through the water. I held my ankles tightly for fear that one of my floppy legs might slip into the water and the wake would suck me into the ocean like a child eating spaghetti.
However, while the staff were very
helpful, communication was not their strong suit, and so Penny and son
were dropped off on the island while daughter and I were still in the
open water. It was a nervy 40 minutes on the sand before we arrived and I
was reunited with my wheelchair.
Desert islands are very
picturesque places. However, they are not very wheelchair friendly. In
fact, the combination of soft white sand, palm tree roots and briny
water make them positively hostile to anything with greased, moving
parts (oh, matron
, etc). Luckily, the staff were very capable,
and happy to push me around the island and haul my sorry carcass out of
the ocean after I had enjoyed another swim. beached as.
week was soon over, and I left Penny and the kids to enjoy a final day
by the pool while I met up with the rest of the team from Motivation Australia
and we journeyed down to Suva for the business end of the trip
. But that's a tale for another day...