Tripping into the New Year

This is not a picture I took, it was taken from Google to show what bioluminescence looks like

New Years 2014 was beyond magical. This was the reason why I stayed in Fiji and this was the night we walked upon stars.

It was a 30 minute boat ride from the Royal Suva Yacht Club to Nukulau Island– just Antonius and me on a little yellow FMF dingy riding over the reefs, waving to the Indo-Fijian fishermen along the sea wall. The day was slightly gloomy, but in the distance Nukulau rested beneath an opening of clouds, the sun’s rays encircling the tiny island. Nearing the shore, we could see scattered hammocks swaying from trees and half-naked men setting up tents, their bodies painfully pale. As we tied up the little boat, we were greeted by dancing girls in bikini tops, their heads adorned with cat ears. Zane’s cousin and his friends had traveled from Australia spend their New Years on this treasured island.

A drizzle of rain cooled our skin as we set up our tent underneath the veranda; others followed soon and the little area quickly filled with tents, hammocks, and hanging mosquito nets. The drinking had already begun, never having stopped from the night before. Giant speakers bought especially for the occasion were being unloaded off Robert’s boat– Commander 1. The island looked like a little village with the center of town marked by the speakers and DJ booth.

Otto, who had come back to Fiji after living in Brazil and Germany, was also spending his New Years on Nukulau. He had been a vegetarian and was a great cook so we instantly bonded. His way of thinking and the conversations we had were both refreshing and enjoyable. Iara, Otto’s sister and a golden- eyed beauty, was also there. She was always so kind and I was so thankful to have her company after everyone else had left Fiji. Their whole family was so incredible and impressive– their father, Wolf, was German and their mother Brazilian– all of them could alternate their conversations between English, Portuguese, and German. They always welcomed everyone into their home and Wolf always made sure everyone had a beer at hand. On Nukulau, he introduced us to Cachaça, a honey-like mixture of pineapples, vodka, and heaps of sugar. As the sun disappeared and the adults returned to the boats, Wolf’s booming voice echoed throughout the island.

The music pulsed as the magic of the night creeped slowly into our beings. Looking back to Suva, we could see the strip of land glowing; Commander 1 and a few other boats to the right of the island– silhouettes atop the calm waters. The New Year arrived as Viti Levu burst with fireworks, from one side to the other– purple, green, red, blue, orange,and yellow bolts of light flew up into the sky and all of Fiji celebrated. At the center of Nukulau, fire dancers synchronized their motions with the thumping music, twirling their batons faster and faster. The dancers themselves a dark shadow, induced a trace-like gaze upon their art, catching eyes from all corners of the island. Otto being one of them, looked intensely concentrated on staff spinning, a ring of fire surrounded him. Even from a distance, Robert and Zane’s presence comforted me as they reminded me of all the good times we had before my other friends had gone home.

Above our heads, the stars winked brilliantly as if they were reaching and stretching their arms down to us. Antonius and I sat by the bonfire, crying out in laughter; the sand beneath us, cool and damp, covered our bodies as we laid watching the stars expand into the universe. Holding hands, he led me through the shallow waters just below the shoreline, each step illuminated by tiny blue specks of bioluminescence. This was the night he showed me how to walk on stars. The two of us were lost in our own little world, laughing like children, falling deeply in love.

Too quickly, the stars said goodnight as the grey sky rested and waited for the sun. Robert told us we should go watch the sunrise on the other side of the island. Through a secret garden, Antonius led me into a tunnel of icy green, completely engulfed. As I looked to my arm, a little brown bug rested upon my blueish skin. Without a sign of reaching the end, we arrived suddenly at an opening just big enough for the two of us. In the water, a block of cement steps invited us to sit for the morning show, the ocean gently lapping at our feet. Spirals of clouds swirled pink and purple as hints of orange began to melt the greyness away. A blanket of serenity fell upon us and time froze. Slowly, the glorious sun unveiled itself from beneath, it’s rays reaching out to greet the morning as the sea birds stretched their wings across the horizon.

We walked through the secret garden once again; it remained eerie as the passage was hidden from the sun’s warmth. On the other side, a beautiful day and Zane greeted us at his boat, The Kingfisher. Together, we headed over to Makaluva, the little island to the right of Nukulau. On board with us was an Australian who had been stung by a sting ray the day before. His hair and beard were long; his skin and clothes were smeared with charcoal. Once on Makaluva, we walk along the water to find a place to sit, to see Nukulau from the outside. As Zane stepped into the water, a tiny shark snapped at his feet, almost taking a part of him for a souvenir. Looking closely, we saw a school of 20 baby black tips resting where the ocean meets the sand.

The sun shinned bright against the morning sky and the ocean glimmered a deep blue. A calmness settled in as we headed back to Nukulau. Antonius and I enjoyed one final laugh together as we returned back to reality, back to the real world.

Check out a picture taken by Robert’s cousin:

Nukulau New Years Photo by Steven Saphore — National Geographic Your Shot.

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