That’s the question I get when I tell my friends that I’m headed down to Vava’u. Wow, they say, I didn’t know you wanted to go to the South Pacific – voicing the surprise. I didn’t either actually. But it’s so far, they say, and the islands are so different – the cultures look so foreign, you’ll be alone in a strange land. Hey, I say, they have WAY more dancing in their cultures than anywhere else why wouldn’t I want to go of all people?! Entire populations are dancing! 😃 Ok ok some of the serious reasons are…
1 – Ocean – you have to see the beauty of the ocean there! Yes, sure if I go to California or some of the Caribbean islands they are still in the Pacific and they are still very beautiful, but this one is like combining the Caribbean Sea with the Pacific. Truly untouched nature. And it’s far… far… far.
2 – Marine life – the humpback whales, turtles and sharks did it for me. I will be going to the island of Vava’u first, and swimming with humpback whales – in the wild! I can’t imagine of a bigger thrill at the moment! 😃 I will be also posting my experiences as much as I can. This is the only place in the world where it is legally allowed, with many rules apparently, but allowed. And it is on my bucket list to be out in the wild with humpbacks, dolphins (already crossed it off twice but a few more times wouldn’t hurt) an other wildlife that likely will not be found in Vava’u, Fiji or other countries in Oceania.
3 – People, Culture and Volunteering Opps – Even now from here, I’ve gotten in touch with so many different people who are somehow actively involved with the oceans there. From what I’ve been reading, and my email and phone interactions with the locals point to warm and open people. I am also finding out about places who are in need for volunteer help, being at such a remote location on earth, it is difficult to organize one or two week volunteer “holidays” for a big number of people. It seems that the majority of the volunteers they get are either what most would term nomads or those who are on gap years. It makes sense, I want to stay there for as long as I can – while I can and do what I can. I am already getting responses from people near and far who are interested in Vava’u.
4 – Fiji – shark conservation! 😃 This will require diving with sharks… one of the very few things that I find myself fearing when I’m underwater – what if I see a shark? Well, if I dive to help them, and am surrounded with them, I’ll have no choice but to get comfortable with them. They are mostly bull sharks, endangered and have a deep false stigma attached thanks to Hollywood and negative media coverage. My goal here is to take as many photos as possible and post them where I can to spread the word and experiences. Even if they are more likely to “eat you” I just don’t feel comfortable with the purpose to catch a shark, cut off his fin while he’s still alive and throw him back into the water to die.
5 – It’s the road less traveled. There are more “native” things there, less of the modern day conveniences – which means more things to learn. Then the usual question is – well you have Google now, you can just google it – why trek for 40+ hours? Well my friend, yes I can. And you- you can go and see the turtles or dolphins in the waters of the pacific ocean come find YOU in that vastness, and give you that feeling that they are playing with you. You can go to Bonaire and SEE the damage we are causing the reefs first hand, the piles of plastic that sits on the shores of that remote island which provides none of those items. You can meet the “scary people” you see in the movies, and learn so much about their lives and how genuinely caring they are of you and just help you with the smallest things – like finding amazing chocolate in the middle of a remote island. 😃 Unlike seeing it from pictures or behind some ridiculous glass, seeing these first hand puts you in touch with your human side. Wakes you up to how much of what YOU, just you, do really does matter. You feel the real human power. And that is addicting. And I already said I am an addict.
6 – Dancing. I am kind of serious about seeing the dance ceremonies etc. Been wanting to do that for a while, especially if I can get out to the Cook Islands, that would be bliss!
I have the time at the moment. No rush for anything. Sure – staying in one place too long will either shorten or completely eliminate another destination from my list. But – I’m still blessed to be able to go and see what very few people on earth actually DO. The objective is to expose myself to as much marine/ocean conservation as I can. Learn. I have a year. Let’s see what happens.
All this being said – I am aware of the possible dangers and uncomfortable situations… I will be sleeping in strange places, different types of homes, beds, bathrooms. I am mostly not looking forward to the size of the freakin spiders I’ve been seeing on some photos online – I hope it’s people exaggerating them. Again it might be a way for me to overcome that crazy phobia too. Who knows? I also know I don’t know the culture much, only will have as much of what I will be reading up on until I get there. Having my Japan experience from last year- I think I am as ready as I can be. Something is going to be very good there. I know because I am SO very excited.