Going through immigration has always made me anxious as I get questioned a lot as a Filipino single female traveler. But immigration in Fiji was quick and easy! As soon as the immigration officer stamped my card, I happily headed to meet up with Lauren, the other Protector of Paradise from South Africa. We quickly grab our bags and go through customs and get some Fijian dollars.
As soon as we exit, Mitch gives us the warmest Fijian welcome, as two videographers capture the entire scene. OMG. What is happening? I didn’t even it was going to be this big. It’s like we’re celebrities! I am so not used to this as I have always preferred to be behind the camera.
When cameras stop rolling, we finally meet Dan and Flynn who is also part of the team behind Protector of Paradise. We head to the car and head off to Bulaccino for some lunch and coffee.
Apparently, we are the first to arrive in Fiji and the 5 other finalists will be arriving later that afternoon. Over coffee, we exchange stories about our own countries and environmental situations we’ve encountered back at home. After all, we are all here not only for tourism but most importantly for our environment.
Mitch offers to check us in a 6-hour room while we wait for everyone to arrive. Our flight from Singapore to Fiji took 10 hours so we really needed a shower and a comfy bed!
In the evening, Flynn picks us up to finally take us to our Airbnb, our home for the next 2 nights. We will be staying here before we leave on our first official trip, the Captain Cook Cruise.
We chat and wait for a bit for the rest of the participants to arrive. The 3 Fijian hasn’t arrived. They will be coming from Suva, which is 3 hours away from Nadi, where we were based. I quickly learn that like Filipinos, Fijians have their own concept of time- Fiji time. 5 minutes could mean 15 minutes or 50 minutes. I still haven’t figured out.
We meet Taz the other member of the team behind the Protector of Paradise. She brings us goodies and that makes us all happy since we are starving! Apparently, we are having Indian food for dinner and Mitch and Dan are getting them for us. I was so hungry I thought they were getting it from India. Hahaha… Just kidding!
Over dinner, we sit around the living room, watching Rugby sevens. I have never seen a game and understood how it was played as this sport is not popular in the Philippines. I learned that this is a big thing in Fiji. They even took home the gold in the last Olympics!
We ended the night cheering for Fiji’s win. I think this is a good omen of what is to come for us Protectors of Paradise.