For our last week in Fiji, my grandparents, Dad, sister, and I went to Castaway Island, one of the island resorts and about two hours away from the mainland. The ship we traveled on to Castaway was great, there was a wind that kept threatening to blow away passengers’ hats and any loose items. I actually got hit twice from such occurrences: the first time a bottle cap from a water bottle and someone’s cap. My sister’s baseball cap almost got blown away as well, but luckily she caught it in time, which I witnessed (and caught in photos) when I went up to the top deck for a while. We sat in the sun, with coconut oil spread on our skin to protect it from the sun – coconut oil is a great and natural “sunscreen” and helps with getting tanned as well and leaves the skin feeling incredibly soft.
We spent a relaxing and peaceful two days at Castaway. (It’s called Castaway, I think, because of the Tom Hanks movie and we could have taken a little cruise to the island where it was filmed.)
My sister and I collected coral and sea shells that were bountiful all along the beach and we learned how to snorkel with our Dad. It’s an incredible feeling and almost unreal to be looking underwater and being able to breath at the same time – it would seem to defy the laws of nature. As I looked underneath the water’s surface, I started to wish that I had an underwater camera or a waterproof protector for my camera so that I could take photos and I understood the beauty of how it is a hobby for some to do underwater photography. My sister’s camera was waterproof to a degree, although I don’t remember if she tried doing any underwater photos.
We also saw fruit bats when it became dusk and once again that feeling of awe and wonder captured my soul as I watched, transfixed, as the bats would circle and land into one of the coconut trees and feed.
I tried getting a picture of the bats but it was too hard; they’re so fast! One even flew over my head. I saw them land, though, in the coconut trees and feeding.
Despite the difficulty of getting photos, I was able to get fairly close to them. I would watch the border of the treeline and observe which tree a bat would land. I was then able to observe them in the tree, feeding on the fruit of the coconut. That’s as close as I would get to the bats.
Later on, I read this really good article about Fijian bats. It describes six species of bats in Fiji, including one with a long tail like that of a rat’s. Like the rest of Fijian wildlife, the bats are generally harmless and are fruit bats.
When I saw this sight of bugs clustered together on a tree branch, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “We’re in the land of National Geographic!” I’d have probably freaked if they’d been right next to me, but observing them from a branch high up and taking pictures was fine. Interestingly, it was only this tree that they clustered on. My Dad later had the idea that we should have shone a flashlight (called a torch in Fiji; it was crazy to be hearing these British terms I’d only read in books before or heard on TV shows and movies and recognizing them) into the tree at night to see if they were still there. (We had one of these crickets on the table we were seated at when we arrived at Castaway as well.)
Probably the most beautiful thing, though, that I witnessed there was the sunset. It was a sunset that I’d never experienced before. Within five minutes of taking photos of the sunset, the sun’s glare on the water diminished and it sank below the horizon. A burning orange glow. It was that fast! It was probably because we were closer to the equator but it was amazing all the same.