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Checkerd Blog August 2015

August, 2015


(Lots of random phone photos, mainly food)

As you probably already know I got married. I married the Checkerd Sports Mail Lady!
Seriously though I married a bad ass woman, we have been together for almost 6 years now.
We had a family ranch wedding, lots of awesome people, friends and family.

Lindsey, an old friend from the Best Buy days made a road trip from Virginia to shoot our wedding.
Normally she doesn't shoot weddings, but she was nice enough to do ours.
Make sure you check out her website Lindsey White Photo, she does amazing work.

Two weeks later we left for our honey moon in Fiji. I didn't bring my nice camera, didn't
want to carry it around, thinking now I should of. Most of these pictures are just phone pictures.

Flying in to dirty smoggy L.A

We took a night flight which made the 11 hour trip from LA to Fiji seem short.
Went to sleep, woke up, watched a movie and next thing you know it we were in Fiji.

The dinner they gave us on the plane was pretty whack so I went straight to bed after I
watched some BMX documentary.

Someone else didn't think so.

Fiji airport is small and security is very relaxed. Their is hardly any crime in Fiji.

Of course they always get my name wrong with "Paul" instead of "Raul".

We stayed at Nanuku Auberge Resort, which is in the Pacific Harbour, about 2.5 hours from Nadi airport.
The car ride from the airport to the hotel was very sketchy, the drivers there drive very close to each other.
They have one main road that goes around the island (Queens Rd.), very scenic drive.

From the moment we landed to the moment we left, I never saw or met anyone who didn't look happy,
or anyone who wasn't friendly. We arrived at the resort way earlier than our check-in time. We had just planned
on hanging out by the beach until check-in time, but the staff took our luggage, fed us breakfast and
gave us a temporary room until our villa was ready.

Every morning we had the same iced coffee, it was amazing. Everyday was three, three course meals.
Yes I gained weight, it was all delicious fresh sea food.

Breakfast- catch of the day
The portions don't look big, but they keep bringing you different things and snacks through out the day.

When you arrive at the resort they give you this big welcome entrance and give you coconuts to drink.
I love coconut water, and they had an endless supply of coconuts.
They also put flowers behind your ears and give you a shell necklace.

They give you a golf cart to drive around the resort, my cup holders were always filled.

We finally got our villa, felt great to shower after the long trip.

This resort only has villas, not rooms, which makes it very peaceful and lots of privacy.

With our villa we also had a "villa mom", which took care of what ever you needed in the room. At
first it was a bit weird because everytime you went to eat and came back, all the towels were replaced,
bed was made, and they would even fold your dirty clothes if you left them out.

"Bula" means hello and is used everytime you see someone, I mean EVERYTIME you see someone.
It's the total opposite of the states where people are just stuck on their phone and ignore everyone.

Couple pictures of the resort.

Our villa's back patio, where we spent most of our time.

Bed view, awesome view to wake up to.

When you first enter the resort, one of the lounge areas.

Another hot tub lounge area.

The resort is made up of eighteen villas. Each villa has a "villa buddy", Josh was our villa buddy.
Pretty much your tour guide if you need to go anywhere he can help you and show you around.
Josh, like most people in Fiji know a lot about Fiji's history and their ancestors.

We didn't do too much of the trendy things most people do when they go on an island vacation.
April and I work a lot so we mainly went to relax. We wanted to actually see how people lived in
Fiji outside the resort. Josh took us to a few villages and even his home when he wanted to pick
up some fruit off his tree.

The first day we went to the capital of Fiji which is Suva.
We went walking through the city and walked into the market. You have to be respecful
of the culture so Josh would let us know what we needed to say such as, "Tulou", which is "excuse me".

Part of the market

On the second floor there is a big market with lots of Kava vendors. Kava is the root of a plant that gets
grinded up and put into water like a tea. Once the water looks dirty it's ready to drink, the darker the
water the more potent it is. The Kava is a relaxer, some say similar to effects of marijuana. Kava is
huge in Fiji, and very common for people to drink it. Josh told us he drank lots of it. He showed us who
had the best Kava and we might or might not have bought a pound to bring back? Yes it's legal in the U.S.
I asked Josh if it was illegal to drive on it, and he said no. I guess the breathalizers can't pick it up, plus
not that many people drive in Fiji anyway.

You can buy Kava in the root form or already grinded up.
Here is what it looks like grinded up already.

This is the tallest building in Fiji at the moment in Suva.

While we were walking though the city their happened to be a marching band marching through.

After walking around and going into a few random stores we went to the Fiji museum in Suva.
The museum has lots of cool artifacts that date back 3700 years.

Fiji has a history of cannibalism, so there are plenty of artifacts at the museum for that.

What you see sitting on top of the block is a cannibal fork, the one on the bottom is a brain smasher.
The fork was cool to learn about since we later ate a meal with it at the resort.

Cannibal Fork

Whale teeth
Whale's teeth in Fiji are used for marriage proposals.
Josh was telling us that when you want to marry a woman, you give her father whale teeth. The more
or the bigger the teeth, the better chance you have of him giving his daughter away to you.
I asked him what the father would do with the teeth and he looked confused. I said does he sell them
or keep them? Josh said, "sell them for what?" I said, "I don't know money or something?" He just
replied with, "money comes and goes". I've heard people say that, and I've had mentors tell me that
before, but coming from someone who hardly has any money at all was very different. How they don't
value money very much is an awesome way of living. Josh was telling me that when you are born in Fiji,
you are born into your village and you automatically get land given to you. You build a house or small place
on the land and you hardly have to work. Most people in Fiji that don't work just fish for food and use the
trees on their land for fruits and vegetables. Josh was shocked when I told him you had to have a fishing license
in the states in order to catch a fish. He said, "What if you're really hungry and you don't have a license?".

These bugs I was told can still be found in Fiji, just glad I didn't see one.
To give you an idea how big these are, they are about the size of an iphone 6.

Everyday at the resort they had happy hour. They would bring out really tasty finger foods and just sing
right before they did their daily torch lighting.

Cool ceiling above the bar made of shells.

Daily snacks and happy hour.

At sunset the warriors would light the torch.
One warrior would beat the drum, another warrior on the board would blow the horn and go across the water,
while the others lit the torch, then they came together and sang for a short while.

The following day Josh asked us if we wanted to go watch some car races. Of course I did.
We took the mountain bikes down the road to the airport strip owned by the resort. You have to
remember not many people drive in Fiji, so not many cars around. The races were pretty much
people's stock cars just having fun. It was only time attack drag race. They only have one car go
at a time. Everytime someone came back they would drop the helmet off to the next person.

Some of the only faster cars our there.

This truck was pretty much stock with big ass slicks and could hardly push them.

I never saw a Honda anywhere in Fiji, even when we went to the city.
There was about maybe 5 Hondas at this race event.

Pretty shocked I saw a jdm s2000 out there. I talked to the owner and he had it imported from Japan.

This RX7 was probably the fastest car out there.

We took a shortcut to get inside the airport, which included crossing a sketchy broken bridge
and going between barb wire fence. The left side of this bridge was broken, you had to step on the
right 2x4, and even then it felt like it was going to cave in.

After the races we took a bike ride through the beach and to a mountain we hiked up.
This was at the top. The resort is in the very back on the left.

Earlier that day I'm not sure what I ate but I had big fat ears and swollen face.

Josh riding a wheelie on the beach on our way back.

The next day we went to a village to find a pharmacy. Benadryl there is a cough medicine.
Tried a cream and some other pills, helped my swollen face, but then I had a rash on my arms and neck.

On our way back we stopped at the Fiji Arts Village near the resort.

On the left they have a stadium and across the water is a stage.

On the left side, the house is where the king would live. On the right island is where the warriors
would fight or kill people. Then they would drag them over to the King's place to be eaten.
They would also do fire walks on the island on the right.

Inside this face cave was a cannibal cave.

Back at the resort, having some hermit crab races :/

Lots of starfish washed up that day.

We went to make some Kava bowls at the arts center in the resort. Just take a coconut cut it
in half, and sand it until it's smooth and you have yourself a bowl. They also make all the wooden
weapons there to sell at the souvenir shop. They will teach you how to make anything you want,
or help you make your own.

The big bowl in the center is a huge Kava bowl. You would use this if you made lots of Kava for
everyone to sit in a circle and get Kava from it. The one on the bottom right is a club / brain smasher.
The one on the bottom left is a drum made from a single piece of tree, like most things they make.

After lunch I played some volleyball with the crew at the resort. If they weren't working, most of them would
play volleyball or practice rugby football, which is huge in Fiji. They have their own rugby team at the resort.

Another day while we were in Fiji we tried to go into the forest to check out the waterfalls.
From the moment we got to the Teratrax place I noticed the cars were super beat up. I could
see oil leaks, battery not tied down, which was next to the gas tank that had leaks, and it
didn't feel as things were tighten down. We went anyway.

Driving through the streets, no big deal. Oh yea, sometimes I would almost forget
they drive on the left side of the road.

This was on our way to the waterfalls, it started to look really nice, but we didn't get far. The drive
was supposed to be about 45 minutes, we made it about 5-10 minutes in until things started to go bad.
First hill I came up to my buggy died in the middle of it and we just rolled it back down back wards. We
couldn't get it to start again and the tour guide said something was wrong with the fuel? The guide
called on the radio and they brought me another buggy. After a few minutes of getting back on track, the
tour guide's quad died. His battery failed and wouldn't start. He jumped into our car since we now had a
four seater. We decided to keep going, but a few minutes later we had another problem. There was another
couple in another buggy behind us. The steering column on their buggy broke while driving and lost control of it.
The buggy went into the mountain side and they just hit the wall, wasn't at super high speeds so they were fine.
They were just lucky the buggy didn't go to the other side off the cliff. By now everyone is just over the whole
experience. They didn't have any more buggies to bring so they brought a battery to fix the quad and the
other couple jumped in with us to go back. We never made it to the water falls.

Lots of random little houses on our way up to the waterfalls like this one below.

At least we made it back in time for dinner.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was the food, I would consider myself a foodie if you will.
We ate nothing but the best for a week, so coming home was hard, except I was really craving
tacos and chips when I came back.

This is where we ate breakfast and lunch most of the time. They would move the table anywhere
you wanted to eat. You can even buy an island for a day and have a picnic on it ($1800), the island
is about a 15 minute jet ski ride to it.

Pretty sure I gained some weight eating three, three course meals everyday and drinking most days, but who cares.

Some random foods I took pictures of. This is not even half, this is just when ever I had my phone with me.

The menu changed everyday, depending on the catch of the day. Of course most of it was fish,
beef or chicken was rare to see on the menu, I was ok with that. I love all seafood.


The last night we were there, after eating too much dessert already. They surprised us with a cake.

Leaving day was actually pretty sad. Once again our car to the aiport didn't leave until after check-out
time, but they didn't care. They just let us stay in the room and told us to join them for lunch anyway. They
all got together outside and sang to us while we were leaving.

The guy holding the guitar is Josh our villa buddy.

This is one trip and resort I would suggest to anyone, well worth it.

Thanks again to all the awesome people that came to our wedding.