Differences of life in the islands…Are we as happy here as compared to Hawaii?

We stopped on a bridge for this photo.
How can it be that is has been one year ago that we arrived in Hawaii, precisely Waikiki Beach, where we stayed for 11 nights in a less than desirable condo?

After Waikiki, we lived on three more islands in the Hawaiian chain over a period of almost eight months, which seems so far behind us as now we live on yet another island, this time in Vanua Levu, Fiji while enjoying its unique charms, unlike Hawaii in innumerable ways.

The weather may be similar. The tropical plants and flowers may be familiar and the ocean views still draw our eyes countless times a day. But, it’s different…rugged…less populated…less modern.

Here in Fiji, we find ourselves entrenched in the life of the locals, surrounded by their cultures, their lifestyles, their language, and grasping at snippets of what life may be life for them, as opposed to the life we lived in Hawaii.

Rock formations, a tiny island, as shown on the beach at low tide.

In Hawaii, we rarely met a citizen of native Hawaiian descent. The reality over these past centuries has been the immigration of people from Polynesian and Asian countries and other countries worldwide. Hawaii became similar to the “melting pot” of many cultures in many big cities.

In addition, many have moved from the US mainland to live in Hawaii to escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life, only to discover that the island paradise, a traveler’s dream of island living, has traffic, commotion, lines at the Walmart and Costco stores and the hassle one experience in many larger cities.

Yes, there are the quaint little shops, malls, and farmer’s markets, but prices are set for the tourist trade that locals have no choice but to incorporate into their own bulging budgets. It’s expensive to live in Hawaii, more than we’ve seen anywhere in the world to date.

In essence, the “new” and continually growing population of Hawaii leaves a resident with many of the stresses they’d hope to leave behind. However, they have the opportunity to partake in some of the most exquisite scenery to be found anywhere in the world that takes one’s breath away on a daily basis. 

If that’s enough to keep a “transplant” happy along with the friendly nature of others who have moved to Hawaii, then a wonderful life is to be had. The ideal weather, the flowers blooming year-round, the excitement of erupting volcanoes, and the availability of almost anything one could want or need, makes Hawaii an ideal home for many who’ve moved to its resounding shores.

In Fiji, it’s an entirely different scenario. Most of the locals, as described in yesterday’s post, have lived in the Fijian Islands for generations resulting in the majority of the population.

Also, like Mario, our landlord from Germany, and his wife, Tatyana, many have traveled from foreign lands in hopes of living a more simple life but found themselves engaged in property ownership and management of vacation rentals when their ultimate desire to stay active and fulfilled overruled their desire for the “simple life.”

But, life isn’t so simple in Fiji, certainly not on this more remote second largest island and especially so for the new resident used to abundance and availability in their homeland. 

New photo of the Blue Lagoon. 

There isn’t a fast-food restaurant or big box type store to be found. If I needed to buy a mascara, I’d be hard-pressed to find any brand other than Maybelline with only one or two since discontinued options.

We scoured every one of the tiny markets, housewares, and hardware stores in the village hoping to find parchment paper and the egg turner. Fijian people don’t use parchment paper for baking. They grease the pan and then scrub, scrub, scrub to get it clean, exactly what we’re now doing.

The streets in Hawaii were filled with newer cars, imported or purchased locally. In Fiji, the vehicles on the roads are mostly trucks, mostly older, mostly four-wheel drive to accommodate the rough roads, steep inclines, and muddy driveways in rainy weather.

Oddly, we observed many homeless people living on the beaches and on the streets in Hawaii. We haven’t seen one here.

Oh, I could go on and on. But, why compare any further? I only do so to compare the differences we’re experiencing as world travelers sharing our ongoing story having spent eight months in the Hawaiian Islands and now with a total of four months in the Fijian Islands.  

Now as time has quickly passed, we’re down to three months, two more in Vanua Levu and one month upcoming in the mainland of Viti Levu. We’ll be boarding Celebrity Solstice on January 5, 2016.

Viewing spot for Namale Resort guests at the edge of this unusual rock formation.  More on Namale soon.

Were we happier in Hawaii than we are in Fiji? Socially, yes. Thanks to friend Richard, we became engaged in a large circle of friends, either from the US mainland or other cities of the major populace. Everything we could possibly need was at our fingertips. 

Although it was a glorious experience living in, particularly Kauai (for four months), there’s something about Fiji that extends the sense of our desired world travel adventure. 

We assume it lies in the simplicity, the slow pace (even including the fact that the phone company didn’t show yesterday to fix the signal), the charm of the local people, and the scratching to find what we need or want.

We learn when we struggle, not when life is easy and good. When we recall the experiences in our travels, only two years ago, that stick with us the most, it was when we were batting off the flies and mosquitoes, sleeping inside mosquito netting with only a slow-moving overhead fan to cool us in the heat and humidity that lingers at night.   

We easily recall that for three months we lived without a salon or living room, spending  16 hours a day outside on the veranda without screens, never without shoes on our feet, as poisonous insects crunched under our feet as we walked in the dark. We recall taking our shoes into the bed in case we had to go to the bathroom during the night. 

What did we learn in those scenarios? Possibly, the greatest lessons we’ve ever learned in our lives; that we can change, we can adapt, that we can accept and we can live “without.”

Now, the only thing missing is our ability to easily share this story with the readers of our ongoing personal growth and exploration, which is a good wifi signal. It’s definitely available here in Savusavu. It’s just not available to us right now. Hopefully, a resolution will be coming today. 

Once that’s resolved, we can sit back and truly relax, embracing that which is before us in its simplest forms; that our hearts and minds have become full with the reality that perhaps life isn’t meant to be so complicated.

The power’s been out for the past hour, which is expected to be down most of the day. Life in Fiji…

Photo from one year ago today, October 6, 2014:

Its hard for us to believe it was a year ago that we spent 11 days in Waikiki Beach, this view of the beach from our veranda. For more details, please click here.

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