30. Does Paradise accept Credit Cards?

What do you do when you are stuck on a teeny island in the Pacific without any cash or means to leave? Answer: Just enter the FIJI-TIME mentality. Everything will be fine, even if it won’t.
An absolute must in Fiji is to venture out to the remote islands. Most islands are teeny tiny, with limited space for sleeping, and many of them are completely reliant on the local fishing for food. Some of the inhabited islands are however relatively self sufficient, with small farms for growing bananas and vegetables.

There is one local boat transport that will deliver supplies (like alcohol) to the islands once a week. According to our experience, however, the islands are not at all party resorts but more relaxing places where people go to experience the FIJI-TIMES.

What is Fiji-Time? Read Fiji Introduction

Hurry Up! Seriously!

Yummi... coconut

It was day 30 of our travels. We had not yet booked our island stay. Partly because it was difficult to research that from Sweden (remember that these events took place when information was not as available as today), and partly because we had not been sure how time would be allocated when we arrived.

So the first thing we did this morning was to sit down with the local transport agent and book an island visit. At the time, there was only one boat transport to the islands, and it was leaving in a couple of hours. Therefore, we were kind of in a rush to get all the paper work done. The agent was very calm, and totally at Zen with the FIJI-TIMES (like most people in Fiji). Unfortunately, we had not quite reached this Nirvana state yet 😊 and we were running very late. Needless to say, the serenity of the agent made us a bit frustrated.

Lock up your belongings. Nothing can go wrong in Fiji-Time?

We decided to only bring our cameras and a small day pack to the island. Our two large travellers’ backpacks were locked in the hostel locker rooms. They gave us ONE key to the lockers and told us not to lose it as it was the only key. Keep reading, dear friend, to find out what happened with those lockers.

Since the boat company had a monopoly, the transfer prices were quite steep. We were supposed to pay for the boat-transfer at the marina and had deliberately only brought Vedran’s VISA as a security measure. Everything else (food, lodgins etc) was already paid for. Dilek’s card was locked safely with the bags in the hostel locker (the ones that supposedly only had one access key 😊).

Unfortunately, Vedran’s card did not seem to be working, even though it had worked the previous day. The boat company tried to charge us several times, on different machines, and even using an old fashions number register - but nothing worked. It looked liked we were not going to make the boat.
The clerks remained calm and cheerful (as is the custom in Fiji = FIJI-TIME!). They simply shrugged and told us that we could take the next boat - which would arrive one week from now. Of course, that was not an option for us. We would not even be in Fiji the ensuing week. Also, as mentioned, we had not yet entered the infamous FIJI-Dimension so we actually got a bit stressed that we would miss the island experience altogether.

FIJI-TIME does NOT apply when you cannot Pay

We concocted a plan that one of us would take a taxi back to the hostel and retrieve Dilek’s VISA card (the one locked in the impenetrable locker), in the hopes that it would work better. However, the staff told us that there was not enough time for that, as the boat was about to embark. Instead, they suggested that we phone the hostel, have them search for the card in our bags, and give us the card number via phone.

We explained that the hostel had been very clear with the fact that we had the only locker key and….. Obviously, the minute we said it, we realized ourselves how ridiculous that sounded. Of course the hostel would keep a spare key somewhere. Duh!

We quickly called the hostel, asked them to find the credit card in our luggage, and please impart the card number to us via phone. Surprisingly, the hostel complied without even asking us who we were. Hmm… kind of a security risk… Probably this is also part of the FIJI-TIME mentality.

Preparations will make it easier to enter “Fiji-Time”

"The Blue Lagoon" Movie was filmed in Fiji

We have since learned that if you truly and candidly enter the FIJI-TIME concept, most things will go your way. Even when they don’t, they go your way. A fact that the locals seem to know instinctively.

On an unrelated note, we never ever travel with our main credit cards, but rather special travellers accounts where we get rewards for all transactions made abroad. In addition, those accounts have certain limits. Perhaps this fact made us feel more at ease with the idea of strangers rummaging through our bags and accessing our card numbers… preparation certainly makes the transition to Fiji-Time a lot easier. LOL

Our accounts have actually been hacked during travels, but never on an exotic islands. Such hacks usually only occur when we visit the US, or purchase from an International Webpage. Places where great quantities of transactions occur. Even for that, we have insurance.

Say goodbye to connectivity and enjoy

Returning to our story, we can happily report that Dilek’s card worked (or rather the numbers computed - the card itself was still with the hostel staff). The transaction went through mere seconds before the boat was off. The Fijians laughed at us when we ran up to the boat - panting and sweating. In their eyes, we had several seconds to spare… plenty of margin in the Fiji-Time-Frame. 😊

We had chosen to make Manta Ray our home for the next few days. It was not the smallest of the islands, but still relatively remote and relaxed. It took over four hours to get there by boat, and the next time we would see a trace of civilization would be in about four days. We were slightly concerned about this, because if we were to get sick or injured, there would be no way off the island. And even if there was, we would be too far away from any hospital or help.

at Manta Ray Resort

However, as we arrived on the island, all fears faded away. Or perhaps it was just the FIJI-TIMES finally settling in. Our new home looked like PARADISE. Something taken out of a movie. The sand was pure white and the water was crystal clear. Even far out in the ocean, you could see the bottom. There are no words to describe how beautiful it was.

The island had no plumbing of course, but there was a large silo for distilling salt from the sea water. The distilled sea water was used in the showers, and for preparing food. If needed, it could also be used for drinking as the sea is not polluted in these areas. There was a small generator, but it only provided electricity to the lanterns on the promenade leading up to the main house where we would have our meals. In addition, the electricity was only turned on between 18-22. If you wanted to stay up later than that, you would have to make due with live fire. Cell phones were not equipped with flashlights in those days, and even if they were, they would not have been much use as there was no electricity to recharge them.

Dormitory Bunkbends

We settled into our dormitory and went on an island exploration tour by ourselves. In the evening the locals cooked the catch of the day on an open fire on the beach. We were already beginning to feel great!

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