On love, and life, and Fiji

The Intercontinental Hotel Beach, Fiji

“The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.”  G. K. Chesterton

And this photo.  Out of all of the places that we visited in our six-month trip around the world, Fiji is at the top of my list – and I absolutely didn’t expect that.  It was dangerous; everyone, from cab drivers to hotel workers to other travelers, told us to never go outside after dark without a guide; muggings are apparently common in Suva, the capital.  It wasn’t always the most pleasant place; Levuka, perhaps my favorite place in the country, was tiny, had no beach, and was often overwhelmed by the smell of fish being processed in a giant factory next to the town; our hotel, the largest and possibly nicest in the area, had no hot water and an old, sprung mattress.  And our time at the Intercontinental Hotel, on the west side of the island, was lovely but frustrating – we were surrounded by Australians and isolated from locals, and while we had a nice beach, we could have been anywhere in the world; it was completely devoid of any local flavor.

Yet despite that, I want to go back, and it was only on reading this quote that I thought perhaps I understood why.  In every country we visited the first five months, we had more unknown lands to explore, more time to spend traveling, more things to learn and research and do, but in Fiji, the last new country we visited, we were at the end of our trip.  It was the last place where we needed to learn new words to communicate, the last place where we had to negotiate a new currency and exchange rate, the last place where we had to learn a new map and facts about culture and history and think about our place in the world.  Fiji was when I had to face the fact that you can’t keep traveling forever; at some point you have to settle down somewhere, set up a non-itinerant life, collect a few more things besides a backpack and a few scraps of clothing and a passport.  So maybe that’s why I loved it: because I knew it had to be lost.

On Tuesday, we celebrated a year in Edinburgh.  I scrolled through the photos on my phone to see what I’ve taken pictures of so far here, and then kept going back in history and found this one – taken on the last night of our trip, right before we caught a cab to the airport to fly to America, then London, then pack up for life in Scotland, just over a year ago now.  Then I scrolled back through my more recent photos and realized: just because that short trip was done doesn’t mean the adventure is over; it keeps going, all the way to the end, and it’s up to me to make sure I remember that every day there’s the chance to see a sunrise, and a sunset, and fill all my waking hours with growing, researching, doing, communicating, negotiating, meeting new and wonderful people, laughing, loving, and learning about culture, history, and my place in this crazy world we live in.

Those six months of travel are over, and I loved them, but the adventure is still going strong.

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