The skiff’s captain, Villy, is also a dive master. After introductions with his mate, we cast off for Nukubati. Just a few football field lengths from the mainland, Nukubati looks tantalizingly close. I can see people on the beach, in their vibrant primary colors; they’re my welcoming committee. How cool is that!
As we approach Nukubati’s beach, I can hear the assemblage singing. I ask, “All this for me?” This much attention is embarrassing.
“Yes, Scott! Welcome to Nukubati!”
I start to take off my shoes for the disembarkation, but notice that they have a little platform on the beach so that I don’t have to get my feet wet. Nice touch.
As soon as the song ends, they all voice, “Bula Scott! Welcome to Nukubati!” Beaming from ear to ear, I with equal enthusiasm boisterously declare, “Thank you!” And as I step on to the soft sand, I’m given a flower lei, a welcome hug and a fresh coconut to drink. Ahh, Fiji’s got the market cornered on the “welcome to paradise”. The staff grab my bags and take them to my bure while I’m led up to the grand reception/dining hall for official greetings.
As I sit down in the lounge, looking out over the Great Sea Reef Lagoon, I am handed the check-in sheet. This sheet is standard throughout Fiji. It asks for name, passport #, any (known) allergies, food preferences, etc. As I’m filling it out, I meet the co-owner of the resort, Jenny Bourke (co-owns with her husband, Peter). We end up chatting for quite a while.
Jenny and her husband also own The Orchid, where I just stayed. She tells me she heard from The Orchid folk that I had kept them up till 2 am (talking) and then requested a 6 am wake-up call. She laughs as I apologize. “No, no, no, Scott. No need to apologize. That’s what we do. We’re glad to help you out.”
“You see our business at The Orchid is primarily the passengers arriving or departing on early or late morning flights. For example, the Continental Airlines’ flight you were on from Honolulu is new and matches our niche. It arrives late at night and leaves early in the morning, just like most of the Australian and New Zealand flights. Staying up late or getting up early is truly our business. We were just surprised that you only wanted 4 hours sleep!”
Me too. As I gaze out at the beautiful view, I smile and reflect upon the 4 hours. Am I showing signs of fatigue? I don’t think so… Hmmm…: I’m somewhere between alert and passive, but this view is not helping me. I’m starting to dream of a hammock under a nice shade tree and I see just the tree to catch up on those missing sleep hours… I hear Jenny asking if I’d like to see my bure. I chuckle, “Yes, that’d be delightful.” We get up from our comfortable chairs, I grab the coconut drink, my camera, and trail Jenny down to my bure. It’s the last one in Nukubati’s small assemblage and it’s the honeymoon bure.