Our island retreat awaits. We travelled to the mainland, Nadi, and we were greeted with rain. Real rain. Torrential, tropical rain. Was our luck finally up? We’d avoided rain for a month in New Zealand. Was our tropical paradise going to be tainted by daily storms?
The rain passed as we arrived at our hotel for the night, we had dinner whilst two Fijians played acoustic music in the background. It always amazes me how emotional music makes me. These guys had soul! A Fijian take on Ed Sheeran was lush. We turned in for the night in prep for an early start for our transfer to the Yasawa islands. The big boat that delivered us to our first stop was looooonnggggg. Over four hours, sitting next to the cutest little boy I’ve ever seen with the most impossibly long eyelashes. He helped to entertain us. The views were pretty spectacular. The islands are dotted like jewels in the sea. When you think of a paradise island, what do you imagine? The islands of Fiji is everything you picture.
I had consistently, annoyingly high blood sugars whilst on the boat. Because we were pretty stationary I increased my basal to 150% to cover the four hours and finally started to see a steady decline back into range. I’ve finally come to realise what a huge difference being sedate makes.
Our first island was called Long Beach. And yes, it does have a long beach. We were greeted by a friendly face, and walked up to the main area. The island has capacity for 12 guests. We eat together and everyone is sociable and friendly. The accommodation is basic. The electricity is only on from 6pm-11pm and food wise, you get what you’re given and if you don’t eat it then you’re gonna be hungry.. They didn’t have a key to our room so we had to leave it unlocked and on our first night we were woken up by a mouse helping himself to our hypo treatment. There’s also no hot water in any of the places we’re booked into. Oh, and no cocktails. Not quite what I was picturing when planning my perfect Fijian r&r after a month on the road, but still beautiful.
We had some activities already booked in with the package we had chosen. So in the day we took a trip out to some caves. The boat journey again was long. And it was terrifying. The swell of the sea was huge and at times I was convinced we were gonna capsize. My back is also jarred from being thrown around so much. When we arrived at the caves we were told to leave everything in the boat. Not going anywhere with hypo treatment makes me really nervous. I did a test and was at 7mmols but because I knew we were going to be swimming constantly for the next hour at least I had three sweets to hold my blood sugars steady. We got into the first cave and it was pretty impressive. Open topped and beautiful.
To get to the next cave we had to swim under water through a narrow passageway in the pitch black. It was pretty terrifying. Luckily someone had let me borrow their snorkel mask so I could actually keep my eyes open and swim towards the light – no pun intended. The cave itself was eerie as hell. Pitch black and putting our trust in a guide he talked us through our surroundings before we had to swim back through the underwater tunnel. I’m glad I did it but I was glad it was over. We made our way back to our island. A white knuckle ride to say the least. I kept my eyes closed for the majority of the time and my blood sugars held steady.
That afternoon we were booked onto a Blue Lagoon snorkel trip. We’d mentioned it on arrival the previous day, that evening, the morning of the trip and about an hour before we were meant to be going. Each time we were assured, yep! It’s still happening. 4pm rolled around, losing light quickly, and our water taxi man just decided that he didn’t want to take us today and disappeared into the sunset. One of the other guys agreed to take us out – the sun was going down and our host absolutely gassed it, sending us flying around the boat. The snorkelling itself was pretty special. The water is amazingly clear and the fish bountiful. They swim around you unafraid and get right up in your face.
We moved on the following morning to an island called, ‘White Sandy Beach’. Sounds idyllic right? It wasn’t. The power didn’t come on at all, plunging us into darkness (pitch black) at 6pm. The place was like the set of ‘A bugs life’ and I was pretty much eaten alive and there was rumours flying around that personal belongings aren’t really safe. There was no fan in the room, meaning we just sweat our little bodies off all day/night, and as if it wasn’t difficult enough to sleep in the heat, we were woken up by rats in the bin outside our room in the middle of the night. I’d had enough. For the first time on this trip I wanted to go home. I burst out crying and we tried calling around to other resorts to see if we could get out of there asap.
Turns out Fiji is super expensive. We’d prepaid for this week as part of a package. We paid almost £2000 for 6 nights, 7 days and I was so frustrated that the standards were so low. When we travelled in Thailand, we stayed in a beautiful, simple lodge on a tiny little beach in Koh Tao. We paid less than £12 a night for it and it was clean, the shower was good, there was power and a fan.. I know I shouldn’t compare, but it’s difficult not to be annoyed when you have no idea where the money you’ve paid is going. I went to bed early. My blood sugars had held all day despite me not eating a thing. I guess that’s one positive, I got to see that my background insulin is pretty much spot on.
We had a trip booked for the following morning before leaving to swim with Manta Rays – their season is May – December. I was still feeling pretty low in mood so told Alex I would decide in the morning whether I wanted to go on the trip. Manta Rays have always fascinated me. Their huge wingspan, the fact that research has suggested that they are super intelligent and that they have the nickname ‘Devil Rays’ all draw me to want to see them with my own eyes. I woke up in a better mood and we went on the trip. They didn’t let us get out to look for Manta Rays. Instead letting us snorkel through a coral garden. So disappointed. The coral garden was beautiful, but a few minutes in I felt like I’d been stung on my right shoulder. I stopped and got Alex’s attention who tried to reassure me that it was probably just the salt water and the sun exposure stinging my skin. I carried on but continued to be bombarded with tiny little stinging pin pricks all over my body. I quickened my pace, heading for the boat, all the time looking around for some kind of jelly fish or culprit. Once on the boat, I mentioned it to the other guys.. ‘Oh yeah, that’s Sea Lice..’ Sorry, WHAT?! Sea lice?! Tiny little lice that bite you as you swim. Totally gross and really bloody sore.
Finally we got off the island, heading to Wayalailai. I was hopeful about this one. We’d heard good things and when we passed it on the way in it looked beautiful. It did not disappoint. We were upgraded to a beautiful villa room, with a fan and HOT WATER! No rats. No armies of ants. Beautiful beach. Beautiful surroundings. The food was great. The staff were lovely. And, to top off our night, the staff set us a private dining table on the beach for dinner with a bottle of wine. Oh! And a cocktail! WOOHOO. Alex worked his magic on arrival because I’d hated the previous few days. Another reason why I love him.
We snorkelled the following morning with reef sharks and it was amazing. In the morning my pump had woken my up a couple of times alarming with an occlusion. I checked my set and couldn’t see any kind of bubble or kink so turned the alarm off. I’d changed my whole set and cannula the previous night so it didn’t make sense. When trying to take insulin for breakfast my pump was having none of it. I didn’t want to change my whole insulin set again because I’m so aware that my insulin is worked out to last me and I don’t want to waste it unnecessarily. I changed my cannula (third time in 24hrs) and it seemed to do the trick. No problems since.
In terms of storing insulin, it needs to stay cool at all times. But not too cool, cos if it freezes then it’s unusable, and if it gets too hot then it’s unusable too. Pretty tricky when you’re travelling. We invested (I say invested cos they cost a small fortune) in a product called Frio. They’re small insulation pouches, with some form of crystal inside. When submerged in cold water the crystals absorb the water and stay cool for hours after. They’re the only things approved for medicines and recommended by Diabetes UK as far as I’m aware and to be fair they’re pretty clever. All of our insulin stock is separated into Tupperware. We’ve been really lucky so far. Our campervan in New Zealand had a fridge in it, so no problem for the first month. When arriving in Fiji the reception areas at the more basic places were more than happy to store our meds in their fridges after we’d explained what it was, and in the nicer places we’ve had a fridge in our room. Fijians are unbelievably friendly, and seem to genuinely enjoy helping others out. Even when we were on the boat back to the mainland, the crew were happy to keep our insulin in the fridge for us. Such a relief and more effective than using the Frio. I don’t think we’ll be as fortunate when we get into South America/Central America.
After leaving Wayalailai (super sad face) we headed to Bounty Island – rumour is that the chocolate grows on trees…. Fun fact : Celebrity love island was filmed here. Aren’t you all super jealous? We’re basically celebrities. Bounty is a tiny little island that apparently takes about 30mins to walk around. The island is part of the Mamanuca group rather than the Yasawa islands which we’d been staying on up until this point. The Mamanuca islands are typically more developed and Bounty had hot water, fans and 24hr electricity as standard. We arrived just as the sun was about to set and dinner was served shortly after. I chose to skip dinner, my appetite in this heat has been decreasing. Unusual for me as I can eat all day any day. It’s always useful to keep an eye on my blood sugars when not eating to see if my background insulin is doing it’s job properly. We played UNO (I’ve never played but managed to win three rounds) and talked about travelling/work/home with four other people. We avoided politics and religion, we’re on island time now. People are often curious about our diabetes kit and both Alex and I are more than happy to talk about it. Turns out most people know at least one Type 1 diabetic! It’s cool to exchange stories and hear people’s options. Turns out, one of the guys from France, named Ben has a sister who works with a diabetes charity. He asked for the name of my blog to give to her to check out, so Hi if you’re reading from France!
The next day we’d been booked onto an all day boat trip. We visited the island where Castaway was filmed and snorkelled around the island. The scenery is genuinely breathtaking. I don’t think I really appreciate how amazing it until I look back at photos and see the full picture. The contrast of colours, dramatic rocks and a sandbank that leads up to a view point. We had a really good lunch on the boat with minimal carbs, so blood sugars were predictable.
We’d left our big bags and our insulin on the catamaran that was due to drop us back to the mainland later that day. Unfortunately, the engines on the boat we’d been on during the day had failed (I didn’t even notice), meaning we had to be collected by a different catamaran to head back to the mainland. I was trying not to panic. But inside I was freaking out. All of our insulin and all of our belongings were on a different boat! We had no idea where this boat was, when I was due in to the mainland, what would happen to our bags, would anyone be on the boat when we got back? Would our insulin even be there? We arrived back onto the dock and rushed to the boat in front. Our insulin was still there and all the staff were smiley and waiting for us! Phew! Our bags were there too. Everything seems to work out in Fiji.
We headed from the dock to our final stop, Coral Coast. It was just over an hours drive from the centre of town and it was really dark when we arrived. They upgraded our room so we were in an amazing villa overlooking the pool and the ocean. We spent the last couple of days doing nothing but sunbathing, eating and chilling and it’s been bliss. We even had a massage today! I’m sad to be leaving Fiji. After the start of the trip I didn’t think I’d enjoy myself but it’s been incredible.
The next leg awaits, onto LA!