Sharing Culture on the Other Side of the World

Check out Some cool travel and adventure articles on there. Kind of like an online, more authentic Outside Magazine. 

I have nothing interesting to write about Sweden today, so I'm not going to. Instead, I'm going to write about Fiji, which is kind of the reason that I ended up Sweden.

Traveling solo is life-changing. Undoubtedly many travelers embark on a journey with adventure on the brain, dreaming of hiking in the jungle, exploring exotic landscapes and pretending to be Indiana Jones. But these experiences, though entertaining, are not of the life-changing kind. Instead, it's the lives you touch, and the lives that touch you that leave the most enduring memories, that make every trip unique, and that, ultimately, change you.

It was my second or third day in Fiji, and i was alone. I was alone in my travels, and I was literally alone, the only tourist in Pacific Harbor, a small town on the southern coast of Viti Levu. This was because Fiji's government had just been overthrown the week before I arrived by the military. This happens often in Fiji, approximately once every 5 years or so, and I was told not to worry, it's still okay to go there. So I went...but most people didn't. So I was alone. 

I had just completed writing in my journal about how lonely it actually is to travel solo, to miss your friends, miss home, miss the normalcy of life. Even my music which normally puts me in an uplifted state was making me depressed, making me long for the familiar. So I left my hostel room, empty with 8 beds when only one was filled, and headed to the beach to go for a long walk (while pretending to be Indiana Jones). 

I was feeling much better, and on the way home happened to pass 6 or 7 Fijians sitting by the side of the road under a palm tree drinking beer. I greeted them with a friendly "Bula!" I expected a simple return hello, but instead was enthusiastically invited over to join. I enthusiastically agreed. 

After making room for me in their circle, I sat, cross-legged in the grass, and was offered a small glass of Fiji Bitter, about the size of a double-shot. Fiji Bitter is the only beer made in Fiji, and it tastes, well, like beer. I proceeded to sip from my glass, while the Fijians proceeded to look at me strangely. Joji, who was sitting next to me, said "down the hatch." I understood. I obliged.

I then realized that there was only one glass, and that drinking beer in Fiji is a very social experience. So I passed the glass to Joji, "down the hatch" it went, and the glass was passed along. Drinking beer in Fiji is also a very time-consuming experience. There were 8 of us in total, and a case of 24, 40 ounce beers sat in the middle of our circle. When we finished them, we got another case. By now it was dark out and it had started to rain, so we relocated a few meters away beneath a mango tree, which offered substantially more shelter than our coconut palm. 

As the sun set, time stood still. Every apprehension I had that morning about my travels disappeared. I wasn't Indiana Jones, I wasn't exploring some exotic jungle with a machete, I wasn't jumping out of an airplane. I was suddenly part of another culture, no longer an outsider, but a welcome member of a friendly circle.