Hard work Holiday

Hard work Holiday

Blisters? Gravel Rash?  Steel toe boots?  Best Fiji trip ever.

As the plane touched down, I wasn’t exactly sure what had I committed to. I’d landed in a holiday destination to do anything but holiday.

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Not exactly cocktails by the pool

What is a holiday? What are we getting away from? What are we looking for when we leave our shores? Why?

Relaxation? Rejuvenation? Feel better? Break the routines? Memorable experiences?,

All of the above .

Holes dug. School building needs foundations.

Holes dug. School building needs foundations.

If these are questions, the answer is often a drinking and junk food expedition by a pool. Definitely fun, but is coming home heavier, sunburnt and hung over rejuvinating?

I challenge the notion. Fortune favours the brave.

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Me, Peter Hopgood (Outrigger GM) and a stack of school kids yelling “Ha Ha, HEE HEE” for the camera at Conua School

I went to Fiji,  woke up each morning, put on my steel toe boots, packed 5 L of electrolytes and spent my days digging holes, mixing mortar, laying foundations and hauling 40 kg bags of concrete.

Aussie kids, FIjian kids, just hanging and having a conversation they will never forget

Aussie kids, FIjian kids, just hanging and having a conversation they will never forget

It’s changed my perspective of “holiday” forever.

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As the sun rose on an ANZAC day ceremony with a difference, a rainbow appeared to remember the fallen

 

Peter Hopgood, the manager of the Outrigger in Fiji who facilitated this said “You’re going to go home with the clearest head – just you wait and see”.

He was right. I feel rejuvenated, patient and excited to be home. Stronger too.

Aliki enjoying a rest and a fijian rollie at smoko

Aliki enjoying a rest and a fijian rollie at smoko

My workmate Aliki told me “The resort is not Fiji. This is Fiji. This is real Fiji.” He was right. We shared our lunch of roast beef rolls, cassava flavoured with freshly picked wild chillies and lime juice, noodles, tuna and freshly picked papaya,   washed down with sweet tea and fresh coconut juice.After we ate he gave me a square of cardboard so we could let our food digest out of the heat of the baking sun. We discussed life, love, family. I was too dirty to touch my phone and the rest of my world fell away from me .

Aliki and Tavuni, a feast of hotel beef rolls and freshly picked chilli, lime, cassava and coconut juice. Food of the gods

Aliki and Tavuni, a feast of hotel beef rolls and freshly picked chilli, lime, cassava and coconut juice.
Food of the gods, eaten in a hall funded by guests of the outrigger.

I was engaged. I told and heard stories. I learnt more about my place in the world.

The local rugby team came to help. BIG boys. One was 6 foot 7. Handshakes hurt.

The local rugby team came to help. BIG boys. One was 6 foot 7. Handshakes hurt.

Each day I got dropped off at the engineering section filthy dirty. On day one the staff were confused. By day two, 30 of them knew my name and by day three were sharing with me their stories.  Real people were opening my eyes to what life is really like, without filters.

Rugby to Fiji like cricket to India; number one religion

Rugby to Fiji like cricket to India; number one religion

Fiji can be more than flop and drop?

I love this Fiji just as much as the resort Fiji.

I wasn't the only one; guests pay to come and see a village and contribute to the project.  Awesome.

I wasn’t the only one; guests pay to come and see a village and contribute to the project. Awesome.

I landed in Melbourne and know how lucky I am to call it  home. Just before midnight Saturday I had that “welcome home honey” from my wife and a squealing “DADDY!!!” From my daughter before attempting to suffocate me with her gorgeous hug before she fell asleep again.

The one and only eddie Betts came for a holiday. Brought his team. Helped build a Kindergarten.

The one and only eddie Betts came for a holiday. Brought his team. Helped build a Kindergarten.

On Sunday we played Jenga, she asked about the photographs and the real world the resort didn’t show her. She wants the same experience. I’m going to take her. Not bad for a nine year old.

A smile is never ar away.  I love Fiji and its people, who I can now say I have met.

A smile is never ar away. I love Fiji and its people, who I can now say I have met.

Anyone feeling bold enough to join me?

Instant audience.  Are they the loveliest kids in the world?

Instant audience. Are they the loveliest kids in the world? You cant buy this pic. You have to sweat for it.

Travel agents – ask someone what they’re looking for and give them a different way to find it. A website never will. You can

Pretty much done for the day.  I love a bit pf physical toil, it was hard, but oh so satisfying.  Don't be scared.  Join me.

Pretty much done for the day. I love a bit pf physical toil, it was hard, but oh so satisfying. Don’t be scared. Join me.

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