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An Unforgettable Experience

January 3, 2010

Filed under: life,travel — Terry Wohlers @ 14:54

I found myself standing in the center of a remote village of 500 inhabitants in the South Pacific. No streets, automobiles, supermarkets, or convenient stores. Women were on the ground preparing small fires, cooking, and weaving floor mats. Small children were playing while domestic animals wandered among them.

Thirty minutes earlier, I was standing at the shore near a dirt airstrip in Malolo, Fiji. I was about to walk around the small, isolated island when a man, maybe in his early 60s, approached me. “Would you like to visit my village?” he asked, as he pointed across the bay toward the larger section of the island, attached only by a shallow reef that appears when the tide recedes.

Moments later, I found myself on a small boat with him, along with the apparent owner of the boat, and an old, rusty lawn mover that the man was transporting to the village. He explained that we was the head of the village, an elected position similar to a mayor. I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me and I really didn’t know what I was getting myself in to. My instincts told me that he was being truthful and that it might be an interesting experience, maybe even adventurous.

I understood that it was a very short boat ride, maybe five minutes, and a 30-minute walk when I was ready to return. Fifteen minutes later, and with the outboard motor at full throttle, we were headed out to sea. This made me uneasy. It turned out that we were navigating around some shallow areas and we eventually headed toward land. Even so, it was much further away than I had anticipated and it would likely take a couple hours by foot with the water at low tide.