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Saturday
Oct152011

A Fabulous Time in Fiji

Sage and I are on our way home to Utah from the Fiji trip, and we have a one-night layover in Sydney. I had to take a quick minute and blog about Fiji—FABULOUS! That’s all I have to say!

OK, maybe I’ll say a bit more (smile). . . .

Sage came with me on this incentive trip (and she was a great traveling companion--we had a blast!), and I mentioned in my earlier blog that we arrived Tuesday afternoon without our luggage. Bummer. But we made the best of it on Wednesday by going out and buying new swimsuits and then relaxing around the pool, waiting for the demonstrators—and our luggage—to arrive.

Thankfully both showed up safe and sound on Wednesday night. Sage and I had enough time to shower and put clean clothes on (FINALLY) before heading to the welcome dinner.

Dinner was wonderful . . . delicious food, great entertainment (native Fiji dancers), and our first opportunity to honor this great group of demonstrators who had earned the incentive trip. There were 18 demonstrators who earned the trip, and everyone got to bring one guest, plus we had staff members . . . all together our group totaled almost 50. I loved the intimate size, because it gave us an opportunity to spend one-on-one time with everybody at least once, and I chatted with many people on several occasions throughout the week.

After the welcome dinner, we sent everyone to bed early—we had to be in the lobby the next morning by 5:30 a.m. for an exciting, daylong white water river rafting adventure.

Almost everyone went on this excursion, and while it was definitely a long, exhausting day (we didn’t get back to the hotel until past 8 p.m.), it was worth every minute.

The scenery, the adrenaline, the opportunity to experience and see Fiji in from that perspective was amazing! The pictures don’t do it justice, but at least they bring back the great memories.

Friday morning we met for Make & Takes and a group photo (I don't have it right now but will add it when I get back to the US), then the rest of the day was free. I have to mention the birthday gift I received on Friday—our demonstrators gave me a 6x6 album, with a page from every demonstrator in attendance. I also received cards, hand-stamped jewelry, and other gifts throughout the week; it really did feel like I spent the entire week celebrating my birthday, and I felt very spoiled. Thank you, all!

Saturday was also a free day, until the farewell dinner that night. Demonstrators spent Friday and Saturday shopping, enjoying a variety of excursions, and simply relaxing and visiting. That was our plan too, and we followed that plan on Friday. But plans were made to be broken, right? And Saturday we were a little spontaneous.

There were two excursions that had caught our eyes. The first was a hot air balloon ride, and after discussing it, Sage and I decided to go for it. We had to get up very early (we were actually through and back at the hotel eating breakfast before most everyone else was even awake), but it was wonderful!

The view looking down at the villages from up in the air was breathtaking; people, especially the children, would run out of their homes and wave up at us, calling out “Bula, bula” (a Fijian greeting much like Aloha).

We actually landed in a small village where the children ran right up to the hot air balloon. The guide explained that the winds determine where the balloon can land, and the villagers had been waiting for years for the balloon to land there, but the wind hadn’t been right until that morning. So it was fun to see the excitement of the children as they had an up-close-and-personal look at the balloon—and us!

At breakfast, Sage and I made another spontaneous decision. A skydiving excursion was offered, and we’d talked about it almost jokingly earlier in the week. But sitting there at breakfast, we looked at each other and said, “Let do it!” So we did!

I’ve always wanted to go sky diving—it’s been on my bucket list for years. I almost went for my 40th birthday, and Sage and Shanna had even planned to go with me. But one thing after another came up, and we never went. Shanna finally went with a friend a few years ago, but Sage and I hadn’t made it, so this was our chance.

Talk about awesome! I can’t even begin to describe what it was like! It has to rank up there as one of our best experiences ever. . . it was simply amazing. We were both really brave until just before it was time to jump out of the airplane door, but at that point, there’s no backing out. There was a moment of sheer panic, and then we were gone, free falling for almost a whole minute (we jumped from 14,000 feet) before our tandem divers (the professionals) pulled the chute.

Sage’s favorite part was the free fall; we actually fell through clouds and rain! My favorite part was after the chute had deployed, and we were just drifting down, quiet and peaceful, entranced by the view below. We landed on the beach, pretty much a perfect landing, and we were both about as pumped as you can possibly be. Even now, I can’t believe we did it—and I’m so glad we did!

We capped off the whole incentive trip with a terrific farewell dinner, complete with Fijian fire dancers and a children’s choir. The original plan was to have a bonfire on the beach and roast s’mores, but the weather didn’t cooperate, and the children’s choir was a last-minute substitution . .  . the perfect way to end the perfect trip!

The children sang farewell songs (we didn’t understand the words, but we could definitely feel their message) and then shook our hands as they left.

The children, and all the Fijian people we met were the most friendly, beautiful people you could meet. I was impressed and touched with their sincere interest in us and desire to help us. I learned two Fijian words—Bula (I mentioned it earlier) and Vinaka, which means “thank you.”  We used “Vinaka” a lot, and meant it every time!

I have to admit this trip was a little unusual. Typically I go on the incentive trip with one thing in mind—spending time with our demonstrators. That’s what my focus is, and that’s what I enjoy. These trips are about our demonstrators and what they want, not what I want! It was a special this time to enjoy our demonstrators PLUS experience some incredible adventures that I probably wouldn’t get to do any other time.

So, that was Fiji in a nutshell . . . quite a week! If any demonstrators from North America have wondered if this incentive trip is worth it, let me tell you right now—Absolutely! It was simply fabulous! Sage and I are already counting the days until we can come back. . . .

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Reader Comments (25)

WOW!!! What a fabulous trip! You both were so brave to do the hot air and the sky dive...how fun. Thank you for sharing the incentive trip with us. I look forward to seeing make-n-take and swap pictures.
October 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Fernsler
I had a blast Shelli and thank you and the SU staff for making my first Incentive trip a memory I will never forget! Love your photos of the skydiving Shelli!
October 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDelys Cram
OMG! I am still laughing at your sky diving picture... I hope you landed on land?? Looks like you all had a great time. Thanks for sharing.
October 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCandy Diaz
LOVE THE SKYDIVING FOR YOUR BIG FIVE O!!!! You go! (Sage, too!)
October 16, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterthemom
Oh I can only imagine the rush you felt skydiving! My husband and I have joked about doing it too. Love all the pictures of Fiji. I will have to really step it up to earn this one but the pictures make it all the more inticing to me. It would be great to earn this as my first incentive trip ever. I just got my 5 year pin in the mail and wanted to Thank you for all the fun I have had so far being a SU demonstrator but most of all for being friends with you and your family. Excited about what the future holds for us together.
October 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDebi Pippin
Happy Belated Birthday to you Shelli! Wow! How awesome for you and Sage. What a adventure you guys had. Way to go! Life life to the fullest!
October 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmy Kendall
Wow... I had no idea you were such a daredevil! The idea of skydiving terrifies me, so hats off to Sage and you for going through with it! Looks like the US and Canadian demos who earn the incentive trip this year have something fabulous to look forward to!
October 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCindy Major
WOW! You are so brave! Who knew?!? Sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing. It was great to see a little of Sage & Megan. Such beautiful ladies.
October 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSHH
oh, my goodness, Shelli! You rock! I can be adventurous, but any time I think about jumping out of a plane, my heart skips a beat. I don't think I could do it!
Happy birthday!
October 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine Pooler
Well done Shelli in ticking off a bucket list item. That is so brave! It is NOT on my bucket list but perhaps it would cure my fear for heights?

So glad everyone had such fun!
October 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSharon Tunbridge
You are so brave and nuts! Love it! Glad you enjoyed it! I could never do that! It's all I can do to get on the plane to go to Convention!
October 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Venvertloh
Fiji is a great place...next time you go, go scuba diving...it is amazing!!!
October 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGayle Lambert
It's good to see Moses again doing the Navua River!!!
October 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGayle Lambert
WOW Shelli I am speechless!!!
October 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRose Ward
Shelli and Sage,

My "crazy" skydiving niece, who is a champion skydiver, would be proud of you both for trying this. That's more then her "cowardly' aunt would do. My hat is off to you for being so brave. I'll be sure to share your post with her.

Gladys
October 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGladys Rienks
I can't believe you girls did all of these excursions, especially the skydiving!!! Thanks for sharing your week and after reading your post, you really make me want to earn this trip!
October 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKim Assaly
Oh my gosh, Shelli... my heart was RACING reading about your skydiving adventure.. GREAT PIX.. wow!! AMAZING! Happy Happy birthday, again!
:)
Patty
October 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPatty Bennett
Craig says, next time you'll have to come to Port Lincoln to go diving with the Great White Sharks!
October 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlisa Tilsner
Welcome home Shelli (& Sage) and thanks once again for an absolutely amazing trip to Fiji! I feel so very, very blessed to have been a part of it all, and just LOVED seeing the photos of you both sky diving and ballooning - I'm even beginning to wonder if maybe I could find the courage to do it!! What a great group of friendly and fun demonstrators we have, and what wonderful memories I have brought home.
Love Ngaire
October 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNgaire Anderson
Reading about your trip and seeing pictures makes me want to work that much harder to earn it! I WILL be in Figi with Stampin' Up! in 2012!!!!
October 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Althouse
No helmets?!! Glad you landed safe and sound.
October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWendie Waldman
Wow, skydiving? I am SO impressed! Those photos are simply amazing. Happy 50th Shelli, you are so inspiring in so many ways. May your next 50 years be magical too.
October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterClaire Daly
Me too: Who knew that YOU are such a daredevil?! :) Skydiving is absolutely not on MY bucket list, but kudos to you (and Sage)for doing it AND so glad you loved it! By the way ... I always used to tease about it being my "birthday week" - why limit yourself to just one day?
October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGayle Wheeler
Definitely a trip I will never forget! What a beautiful place and beautiful people. WOW your sky-diving and Ballooning pics are just AMAZING.......happy to experience both through your eyes though - you're a brave woman Shelli!
October 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVanessa Webb

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