Photo: Torsten Blackwood/ AFP
A travelling life is overpopulated with memories habitating the geographical and emotional nooks and crannies of the maps we’ve drawn for ourselves. In a soul-searching moment of clarity many years ago I came to the conclusion that there are only two places in the world where I have felt truly happy.
One of them is Fiji. The location speaks for itself. The whole tropical show - in the South Seas no less. But what I keep with me is the relaxed atmosphere and, more than anything, the people. A more hospitable flock cannot be found anywhere. Fijians won the poker game when the happy genes were up for grabs.
There’s a bit of everything you need in Fiji. A dry climate in the west which has bred the postcard-perfect beaches and palms. A moody and humid climate in the east, including the capital, Suva. Rugged and forgotten mountainous regions sliced by roaring rivers and spotted with villages that can count the number of "white" people who have visited on one hand. Tiny, sandy atolls that have never been named.
Suva, on the big island of Viti Levu, is a glorious melting pot of Melanesians, Micronesians, Polynesians, Chinese, Indians, Tongans, Europeans, among many others. It is one of the South Pacific’s largest and most prominent cities and it offers so many slices of life that you’ll seldom be bored.
Stare at sunsets on over 300 islands, play cricket on Sundays in front of the parliament buildings, ride the slow boats to remote islands, party in steamy, sensual nightclubs. All with a big, relaxed and rather goofy smile on your face. Much like the one on my face as I sit here writing this piece. Fiji’s ability to make me happy will never diminish. The fact that it remains a romantic, faraway place only adds to its allure and appeal.