Monday, November 24, 2008

Bula! Part 1 (Saturday through Tuesday)

Lilly's swim outfit
Lilly got painted at the kids club - two tattoos on her arms, a flower on her cheek, and fake eyebrows! (Kind of scary!)

Lilly with the kids choir behind her.

Lilly & Jon about to ride a bike

Lilly & I at breakfast

Lilly dancing at the kids disco

Happy Family

Bula - it means hello/welcome in Fiji. You hear it everywhere, starting when you get off the plane, and every Fijian person that you pass at the resort says it enthusiastically. Especially to Lilly, of course. And everyone knows Lilly's name, by day 3 - because that is just who she is, and who they are.

The Resort - Shangri-La's Fijian Resort, about an hour from the Nadi airport. We decided to stay closeby, instead of taking a boat or plane to one of the more remote islands. While the outlying islands sound amazing (Vomo comes with its own free babysitter per child the entire time!), we thought 1) Lilly would do better with as little travel as possible (it's a 3 hour flight from Auckland; but if you go to the other islands you have to take a helicopter or extra flight or boatride); 2) price; and 3) the activities and amenities of the larger resorts, especially Shangri-La (which is THE largest resort in Fiji) are right up our alley. Lilly likes diversity and action! Oh and 4) is that this resort has a free kids club we can use as much or as little as we want, and all meals for Lilly are included, and all breakfasts for us. And expedia had a great deal giving us 20% off the stay. We're SOLD!

The trip has been great so far. The flight was relatively easy - it was 30 minutes late taking off, but the time was made up during the flight so we only arrived 5 minutes late. Lilly got us through customs easily - they quickly put us in the "traveling with infants" line; the other line looked about an hour or more long! The transportation was a little tricky. We had only made arrangments (via the resort itself) the night before; so there was a little confusion, but we were originally supposed to be on a coach/bus, and after waiting a little under an hour, they put us in a station wagon - which aside from the wait, ended up being better b/c that car passed every other car on the road - which I'm assuming the bus wouldn't have been able to do.

Speaking of the ground transportation, there were police checks about 3 times on the way to the resort. I wasn't sure what this was about (as an American I niavely assumed it was an alcohol/drunk driving check, or seatbelt check!); it turns out, as the driver explained, there had been a coup of the government a few years back (which we knew) and there was an interim government (which we kind of knew) and the day before, the interim government threw out some bill that made certain Fijians very mad (which we didn't know); this resulted in anticipated potential violence that the enhanced police presence was supposed to assist. A little scary driving to the resort in darkness, not really sure what was going on. Oh, and right after this political unrest was explained to us, we witnessed a huge fire ahead, an entire mountain looked like it was on fire. Of course I silently freak out; Jon asks the driver why the island is engulfed in flames; it turns out that they are burning the land on purpose to clear it, to make room for growing new things. Oh. Yeah, we're those ignorant Americans who are fearful of everything.

Anyways, Lilly had fallen asleep in the car, which was great, because when we arrived at the resort, she was in a great mood, although a little drowsy still. From the time we pulled up past the front gate, people were shouting Bula! at us again and again. When we got out of the car, everyone was so friendly and in love with Lilly (of course) and while Jon checked in, two guys started an impromtu concert with a couple guitars, serenading Lilly (we were the only people in the lobby); they started with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and BaBa Black Sheep (which makes sense, because they have the same tune, so easy to play!) and then started with some authentic (I'm assuming?) Fiji music. Lilly was still a little sleepy so she didn't feel like getting down to dance; but she didn't want to leave them either. I held her and we danced for 20 minutes; meanwhile we were offered fresh sweet pineapple juice. First impressions? Wonderful.

We settled into our room and then made it down to dinner at the buffet. Of course we had a million "Bula's" on the way, and when we sat down we happened to be in front of two other guys on guitars, and Lilly danced and clapped. What a hard life she leads!

The next day, Sunday, we had our (free) huge breakfast buffet, then went to the pool. Then in the afternoon, we decided to switch rooms (ours didn't come with a bathtub; we ended up upgrading not only to a room with a tub, but a 1st floor room that leads right onto the beach; although the original room would have been fine if it hadn't been for Lilly's fear of showers - every room has an amazing view of the ocean). Our new room is huge, it's considered a "family room" and had two couches, a kingsize bed, a big bathroom with a tub and separate shower, and plenty of room for her crib. It's also so nice to be able to walk right outside the porch to the grass & beach. It's a little further from all the "action" but the walk isn't that bad. The furthest thing from us happens to be the kid's club.
We tried out the kid's club Sunday afternoon after Lilly's nap. I dropped her off halfway through the afternoon session, and within 5 minutes of being there, she had her arms painted with hearts and flowers. It was actually adorable; they asked if she wanted her arm painted, and she held it out. She paitently waited while they painted it; she then looked at it approvingly, and put her other arm out, ready for them to start that arm too! (The other kids only had one arm painted; but I guess Miss Lilly is a little spoiled!) An hour later when we picked her up, she had huge black fake eyebrows pained on, and a flower on her cheek. A little scary looking, but adorable - and we could tell she wasn't upset the whole time we were gone, or else she wouldn't have let them paint her face. Meanwhile, while Lilly was at the kids club, we were packing up the old room and unpacking it in the new room. We picked her up from the kids club and went to a "children's choir" which turned out to be 20 kids/young adults from Fiji singing Christian songs. Lilly loved it, and somehow managed to sing along - how does she know these songs?! She also danced and for the last 10 minutes stood with them, teasing one girl who kept wanting to pick her up - Lilly would walk over to her and then run away, over and over. But she had a great time. ;) We went to dinner at the buffet right after.

Monday, we had breakfast at the buffet and then went for a bike ride for about 20 minutes. It was Lilly's first real bike ride, aside from riding around our driveway; she actually liked getting on it, but decided after 10 minutes she wasn't as enthusiastic. The kids seats were a little worn and not so comfortable I think, but she liked it, until she was ready to get off! It was very hot, and as we walked back to the room, we stopped in a shop to buy some sand toys for Lilly. Her face was bright red, although she hadn't gotten much sun - but it was incredibly humid & hot outside. When we left the shop, she wanted to get down and walk herself. She took a few steps, and all of a sudden fell backwards, completely flat as a board - it was almost like she fainted from the heat except she didn't lose consciousness - I think she was just dizzy. She still does fall sometimes when she walks, but always falls on her behind; this time she completely fell back and hit her head hard on the pavement. She started screaming, and I picked her up and held her tight, hoping she was ok... and then I felt the back of her head and she had a HUGE eggsized bump on the back. She couldn't calm down, and we had no idea to do. Of course, this was her 3rd or so serious head injury, which we shouldn't be surprised about considering her dad's occupation (it's bad luck for us, I think). We were all terrified; Lilly and I were both crying and Jon looked in shock. It's one thing to treat a patient, but when it's your own daughter and you're at a resort in the middle of nowhere Fiji, it's very scary to figure out what's going on.

There is a clinic at the resort that was to open a half hour later, so we went to wait there; it was either that or go to a clinic in the nearby town. The managment heard about Lilly's accident and immediately came and stayed with us the entire time; they even called the doctor to make sure he would hurry. She wouldn't tolerate ice and hated when we touched it, and cried for a good 30 minutes. At one point the management called a resort van to bring Jon to the room so he could get his cell phone, and so he could pick up Lilly's dvd player to see if that would calm her down. Meanwhile, I sat in the clinic lobby and sang song after song to Lilly, trying to calm her down. A few minutes before Jon got back, after singing "it's a small world" for the 8th time, Lilly started to catch her breath and listen; a minute later I sat her down next to me and we sang "Slippery Fish" (her favorite action song from school) and she started doing the signs with me. The two managers and two clinic receptions were all smiling and clapping with Lilly then; we were all so relieved that she seemed to be feeling a little better. We have her Panadol (Tylenol) then, and the doctor came and checked her out. Aside from being really sensitive when he felt her head, and not wanting to "look into the light" that he shined in her eyes, she was feeling better. It helped that daddy had her DVD player there by then, and Elmo was singing her hurt away. The doctor said to watch for the major bad signs: vomiting, drowsiness, dizziness, bleeding out the ears, etc, and absent those, she would be fine. We kept her up for 3 1/2 hours after her accident, and she seemed to be ok, watching Elmo, and finally we put her down for a nap in the late afternoon. By the time she woke up, she felt much better. We went to the pool and she charmed everyone.

After arriving at the pool, we realized that we forgot the towel passes; not to worry, Jon took Lilly up with him to the towel area and the person working there said "Lilly!" and all of a sudden Jon had 3 towels. How does everyone know her?

We had plans last night to have a babysitter and go out to dinner, and almost canceled because of Lilly's accident. But she seemed to feel ok in the pool, then went to a "fire lighting" ceremony and dancing the whole time, and then ate a decent dinner (and threw what she didn't want, so we knew she was back to normal!). So we kept our babysitter, although we only left her for an hour for our dinner. We ate at one of the nicer restaurants (which doesn't have a kids menu, but everywhere here kids are technically "welcome"). Ironically, the two table near us both had kids Lilly's age, and the kids were AWFUL! One of the kids screamed and tantrumed so loudly the entire time; then the other kid at the other table got up and started running around screaming, and the first kid's parents let her out too and the two of them were insane running and screaming and going crazy. And a third toddler around the same age, from at table inside the restaurant, started climbing through windows and running past everyone as well. It was pure chaos. I have to say, as a mom, the noise and craziness didn't bother me (Lilly has been crazy enough at times when we take her out); but as Jon pointed out, I would have left for a little while with Lilly to calm her down, if it had been her being nutso. A couple times when we've been out to eat and she's a crazy lady, I'll even leave with her and Jon gets our food packed up. My personal reasoning is b/c other people don't always have tolerance; but also if we're taking Lilly out for a late dinner to somewhere that she has to behave, and she's high strung, it's not completely nice to HER to put her in such an uncomfortable situation. But either way, we smiled at the kids last night, just grateful that ours was hanging out with her nice Fijian babysitter. Even so, we were back right after dinner.

We decided to let her stay up late and took her to the "Kids Disco" that goes on from 7:30 to 9 at the resort bar/club. The kids were having a great time, dancing and playing games; there was a dj that really kept their attention. Lilly got there just for the last 30 minutes or so, but joined in quickly, watching and dancing and singing, she had a great time. I've actually never seen some of the moves she did last night - the one where she kicks her leg and then points her finger in a "John Travolta" like move was especially inspiring. Where does she pick this stuff up?

This morning we went to breakfast, then Jon played golf while Lilly went to the kids club for an hour. I peeked in to see how she was doing, and she seemed to be fine; but she saw me so I felt bad escaping. (I also had nothing to do, with Jon playing golf.) I took Lilly with the kids club to the "field trip" to the beach, looking for shells. While we were there, two huge crabs ran past the kids. There were about 8 kids under the age of 6 with 1 adult, so I'm glad I was there for that part! I can't imagine Lilly making the walk by herself. But she had a good time, and afterwards we got some ice cream and water - I wanted to make sure today she was better hydrated and cooler than yesterday! We then picked up her lunch (the free kids lunches are like a "kids meal" style - today we picked out coconut encrusted fish sticks and french fries, with a banana), and then put her to sleep. It started raining while we were out, so I'm not sure if we're going on a boat ride we have scheduled for this afternoon.

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