Mistie's Fiji Diary

During the Olympic Break, Connecticut Sun forward Mistie Mims traveled to Fiji with her husband OíNeal to enjoy a honeymoon vacation. Here is Mistieís report on her adventures abroad.

Day 1
Today we flew in from Los Angeles. It was such a long flight, and the trip didn't seem to end, especially after having to hop on another domestic flight, followed by a 45-minute bus ride to catch a boat for another 25 minutes before finally arriving to the resort. However, it was well worth it to get to what seems to be a world away. The waters are so pristine blue and the coral seems to go for miles around the resort. The weather is a bit chilly and I'm hoping it clears up because I'm really looking forward to some sun!!! But the welcome to the island was simply amazing. The whole staff lined the beach and sang a welcome song. It's the first time we have heard the Fijian language spoken. It's very different than the other languages we have heard in the past, but when sung itís absolutely beautiful. We were told not to fall asleep before 6 pm because we won't get acclimated to the time change and it would ruin the vacation. So on the attempt not to sleep we explored our honeymoon beach house. The place is about 1,400 square feet. It sits just off the water and has its very own fresh water pool and Jacuzzi. I plan on using that Jacuzzi on more than one occasion. My muscles really need some relaxation at this point. The bedroom is so dreamy. I use the word dreamy because there is a huge wooden canopy bed that has curtains on all sides. So when we sleep it's just a vision of white all around. It was super comfy too! There is an inside and an outside shower which I find very interesting. Using the outdoor shower will most certainly be a new experience. There is also a TV with satellite. I'm actually surprised given there are only 3 or 4 places on this island with television. I figure it will be used more for down time. There's no way I'll be wasting this vacation sitting in front of a television. We also got welcome massages as a part of a honeymoon gift. That was so enjoyable after all that traveling. I was amazed at how strong the Fijian women's hands were. As much as I needed a deep tissue massage...I didn't realize it was going to take me back to my Connecticut Sun's massage therapist (Amy) experience. PAINFUL!!!!! I was willing to go thru the pain then to feel much better later. After dinner...lights out.

Day 2
So we woke up SUPER early - 6:30 a.m. to be exact!!! We went out onto the deck and watched as the sun is rising just over the massive hill behind us. Looking at the sand we found these massive holes. Holes mean crabs...and based on the size of these holes there has to be scary big crabs walking around the island. We did spot a smaller crab but it quickly found a hole to run into. A couple at breakfast that morning told us the resort has crab hunts at night. I immediately wanted to sign up. I felt all Crocodile Dundee at that moment. Ok, so I wasn't going to be wrestling crocodiles, but it seemed real adventurous nevertheless. Before breakfast, I decided it was time for a workout. So we used the weight room for about an hour and proceeded with beach sprints. We only did about 10, but my legs were jelly. I didnít realize the sand had so much give to it; however, I felt like I got the plane legs out of me finally. After breakfast, we went on a guided kayak tour. I was a bit concerned in the beginning because we brought the kayaks on a boat then traveled to the spot we were kayaking. I had NO idea I'd be kayaking all the way back to the resort. It was a long way back and against the current. We saw some really cool things. We spotted a blue starfish, some interesting waterways and a kingfisher bird. We saw some villages, but today only at distance. When we got back to the resort I was so excited about being active that I was ready to do some snorkeling. I think I already had O'Neal ready to lounge on the beach after a good kayak tour and an early morning beach workout, but he realized there was no stopping a woman on a mission to see everything in one day. So after a quick lunch we headed out on our first guided snorkel tour. This experience was breathtaking. I have been snorkeling in many different countries, but the Fijian coral reefs seem to be untouched and full of fish. I found a starfish of my own, and the inner National Geographic explorer came out. I dove down about 10 feet and picked it up. I was so proud of myself and just a bit too excited. At that moment you couldn't tell me I didn't discover a new species of starfish. Being in the ocean was quite an experience that day, but I couldn't help but look to my right at just how dark blue it got and wondering if at any moment I'd see the very thing I'm mortified of seeing...A SHARK. Well, we didn't see one today.

Day 3
What an amazing day!!! First of all, the breakfast at this place is extraordinary. They make fresh mini muffins daily, and every day is different! Today there were passion-fruit muffins that were made with fresh passion fruit they found on the island. Simply delicious. After breakfast we went on the Lavena Coastal Walk. It was about 3.5 hours in total, but totally worth it. We walked the shore looking at the beauty that the Fiji Islands have to offer. The water was just unbelievable. The combinations of blue while still being able to see the bottom of the ocean floor is breathtaking. After about 90 minutes of hiking (even getting to cross one of those bridges one would see in a movie with the dip in the middle) we got to a fresh water river. We were told we needed to get into our bathing suits and we would swim the rest of the way. The water was ridiculously cold but refreshing after the long trek there. After about a ten minute swim we reached the most beautiful place in Fiji (my opinion). There were two waterfalls spilling into a pool which would then create the beginning of the river. So what exactly would we be doing there???? Cliff jumping!!! What an amazing experience! I thought it would be so easy, but it turned out to be a very terrifying experience. Firstly, trying to climb up a wet path of rocks had me wondering if this would be a smart idea given that I still have a basketball season to finish. However, overcoming fears is important in life, so I stuck with it. Getting up there gave me a serious case of vertigo...but I made the jump!!! I'm such a daredevil!!!

The Mimsí on the bridge

After getting back, we chose to relax the rest of the day until dinner. After dinner we got to be a part of one of the Fijian custom ceremony. It's called the Kava ceremony. Kava comes from the root of a plant (after seven years of growing is uprooted, dried, and crushed). This is the Fijian alcohol...though it takes great amounts to feel even the slightest effect. During the ceremony, the chief decides how he wants his warriors or the chosen men of his tribe to mix his kava. There are about 8-10 men that are a part of the ceremony. Water is held in huge bamboo tubes and is used to mix with the ground kava. Before kava can be received the chief must clap one time. After he is finished drinking (which is directly after, it is almost like drinking an entire glass of water without a break), everyone claps three times! O'Neal was a chief in the ceremony so it was very interesting to watch.

After the kava ceremony, Suka (an employee at the resort) took us crab hunting. Those suckers are fast! They have these huge holes they come out of at night and they just walk around. When you flash a light on them, they tend to get freaked out and stay still. However, trying to pick them up was a bit challenging. If they pinch you with their claws, they latch on and it really hurts. It didn't happen to me thankfully. But I did catch some crabs. The trick is to hold them from the back and drop them in a bucket. We will eat them tomorrow for lunch!!!

Day 5
Today we did our village trip. We went just across the ocean to the next island and got to meet all the children at a school. They didn't have class today as they were preparing for an inter-island competition in rugby and netball. We walked over to the girls, who were intensely competing against one another in a game of netball. We were able to meet some of the children who had beautiful spirits and were so excited to meet people from different parts of the world. I was overjoyed at the chance to give them all things donated by the Connecticut Sun and our in-house chaplain. As much as I did bring, there still wasn't enough!!! So I gave the t-shirts to the 14 year old team. One of the girls was 6-foot-2 at age 13. I know if she was in the States she would be recruited in basketball for sure. I heard the girls won the tournament 14-0. One of the mothers told me the other teams were so intimidated by their team because they looked like a real team. They all wore the adidas t-shirts as a uniform. So I thought that was amazing!!! We also visited the village people just five minutes from the school. It's amazing how resourceful they are. All their food, clothing, and most medicine comes from their land and labor!!! What a rewarding experience. Not only does it make me appreciate what I have, but also to put into perspective the things I really don't need! The things really important in this life, not what American society tries to sell me!

Mims with children from the school

Today was also honeymoon beach. We had a romantic lunch on a deserted beach, only accessible by boat during high tide. The resort packed a fantastic lunch for two, two lounge chairs, and left us alone for 3.5 hours! After returning we relaxed until we had dinner on the beach under the stars and was serenaded by a Fijian trio with a beautiful love song. I could live here forever!!!

Day 6
After an amazing and romantic day, we got back on an adventurous route. We went on the Circle Qamea Tour which included three snorkel sites!! The very first stop was not far from the resort. The guide showed us how some corals change color when they are touched. It was really cool. He pointed at it and it was pink, and when he touched it, it changed to this beautiful blue hue. As we turned around a bend we saw all sorts of coral caves. O'Neal started to dive beneath the water to take a photo when I grabbed at his shorts with an aggressive hand. He looked at me like I was crazy....until he looked at what I was pointing to. Yes, there it was...A SHARK. Now, for some reason I was more amazed than frightened. That is something I couldn't say for my husband! In his mind that was the end of the entire snorkeling experience. He went right up to the top of the water and said "That's it! Where is the boat?" However, as I said before, facing fears...he stayed in the water. I am still amazed I was in the water with a white tip shark! The next stops were just okay...until a place called the Cabbage Patch. There was literally a random place in the ocean that went from miles and miles of coral into a place that looked like a big giant head of cabbage. It was green and had so many fish. It was really choppy that it started to get a bit scary. I was happy I am a strong swimmer, because if not I could have been in trouble. The waves beyond the reef would have been any surfers dream!!! However, it was turning into a nightmare situation for us. So we got on the boat and headed to the resort.

That night we were a part of the Meke Ceremony. That was a bunch of traditional dancing and music. We both had a blast. We danced with all the villagers that came to celebrate with us. There O'Neal met Renatou. This little boy was full of passion for his culture and it shined through during the war dances. I truly believe that he was in awe of my husband because he didn't want to leave his side. He didn't speak much English...but actions speak louder than words. We actually got his address and will be keeping in touch with him as he grows. He is only 14 years old.

The Mimsí dancing during the Meke Cermony

Day 7
Today we went to church. Everyone had the voices of angels when they sing. Worship is my favorite part of church, so this experience was more than a treat for me, despite not being able to understand. We got to see the importance of spirituality in their culture. How through God all and everything will be given. It shows their faith in life and that their life is enough. It's great to see that.

Today was also a big milestone for O'Neal and I! It was our one year anniversary. He had the staff make me a cake and sing to me in front of all the guests at cocktail hour. Now I always get emotional when he does things unexpected and romantic for me...so yes I cried! He calls me a big baby!!! Lol what can I say I'm a sucker for romance...a hopeless romantic!

Day 8
Here was the hardest day for me, the day we left paradise for home. I didn't realize until I got to the beach and they started to sing for us how much the Fijian people has impacted me. I was overcome with emotion. These people, more than 8,000 miles away from Connecticut, had showed me their world, culture and kindness. They shared themselves and their lives with perfect strangers. Not once did they beg for things we had, like so many other countries we have visited in the past. Instead they gave of the things they had to make our trip more precious. They are people who appreciate all they have, and do not have a sense of need for more. I am a bit embarrassed for our countryís idea of what we need and want to reach an economic "status" in society. Being here only one week, I realized just how little a person needs to survive and be happy. In Fiji, the villages focus on individuals doing what they can for the whole, not what they can do for themselves. A place they don't have to worry about adults hurting children, but instead guiding them to become great people and leaders of the village. They do not worry about the next Air Jordan release, or the type of car you drive. They are more focused on making sure everyone is fed, have clothes, and have roofs over their head. Despite the fact of not having electricity, and being a boat ride away from a hospital...they are more happy than the majority of people here in America with a million times the amount of resources and advantages. This place has touched my heart in more ways than I could fathom, and this trip was more than a honeymoon. For us it was a trip of a life time.