Some things happen only once in a lifetime. I’m talking about those things that give you butterflies in your stomach and make your life richer, fuller, so exciting that you can’t sleep at night – tossing, turning, trying to figure out how to transform dreams into reality. My trip to the Pacific Ocean was one of those special events that fell under category ‘now or never’ and had the potential to be a trip of a lifetime. Without any hesitation I did whatever possible to make my dream come true. Little did I know the theme of hesitation (and her little sister – embarrassment) would be something I would encounter later in the trip – both in hospital and at a wedding…
Reader, you may be wondering how realising a dream may result in both a painful trip to the hospital and a subsequent embarrassing appearance at a wedding. The former was the result of a scooter accident in the Cook Islands where I emerged with a black eye and bruised all over for weeks (including my best friend’s wedding date). Also when my heart was bruised more than ever when my long-term once happy and healthy relationship was falling apart and I didn’t know what to do. Yes it was painful and yes in those particular moments I did hesitate and wonder about the choices of my heart and the necessity of chasing the dreams in general. However both my eye and heart healed well in the end and now looking back I don’t regret a single second of difficulties I’ve been put through. Actually until today I smile every time I look in the mirror because of the scar on my face (souvenir from the Cooks accident) which still is very much there and very visible indeed. I smile because it’s equally hard to remove scar from my face as to remove from my head an idea how to repeat Pacific adventure again.
Islands of Pacific Ocean are the synonym of beauty and paradise. The most famous ones like Bora Bora, Hawaii, Fiji have many equally beautiful, remote and diverse less known equivalents. The clearest water, the whitest sand, the incredible hospitality are the biggest attractors to travellers, honey mooners and round-the-world hoppers. I knew I made a right choice from the beginning.
The plan was ambitious, extravagant, exotic and I loved it from the start. I’m somehow known for making impossible possible when it comes to travelling so I was ready to go an extra mile to make it happen. The choice of the Pacific came to me very naturally. I love the islands in general for their atmosphere and special vibe, I knew nothing about that region and was very curious of Polynesian art and culture. Endless diving opportunities, delicious food too. There were few other factors contributing to that choice but for the moment it must stay a secret. The time will come to reveal the whole truth. I started planning the trip by replacing my old euro-centric map with a new one bought in Australia which really helped to understand the location of particular islands and realise the magnitude and vastness of the Pacific Ocean – the biggest water surface in the world. I was looking at the map: the equator divides the Pacific into North and South. I started reading the books: the cultural researchers divide it into three distinctive regions: Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia. I wanted to taste them all and see them all. Unfortunately my time was limited to two months and I had to consider wisely all the possibilities. For me the priority was to see an active volcano, to scuba dive with sharks, wrecks and soft coral, to see as many palm trees as possible and to understand at least one characteristic aspect of the local culture (eventually it happened to be a subject of tattooing in Polynesian tradition and the magic of Easter Islands moai sculptures).
The idea was great but as Dante Alighieri said: ‘The path to paradise begins in hell’. I totally agree. I did an ocean of research: flights, weather, cost, political situation, visa requirements, international date line (which twists the definition of yesterday and tomorrow in every possible way), the route itself.
Dante Alighieri said: ‘The path to paradise begins in hell’ I totally agree.
Obviously I intended to have lots of fun and avoid typhoons, tropical cyclones, dengue fever, malaria etc at the same time. It was a torture to make everything match. I love planning and I’m good at it but even for me it was overwhelming. Days and nights reading, staring at the computer with thousands of websites opened. Now I see that clearly: if you want something so badly and you do your homework you’re efforts will be rewarded. My trip was worth every effort.I finished the battle with the final plan: Hawaii, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Guam, Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu, Kiribati, New Zealand, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Islands. On the road I was ready to alter the trip, I put my mind in a flexible mode not to be disappointed if things started falling apart. Nothing major went wrong though, the plan worked out well – I’ve seen it all. I did have New Caledonia in my plans too but in that case my organisational skills slightly failed (damn you, bloody date line!). At the end of the day in fact it didn’t really matter at all as the whole trip was a truly beautiful journey full of inspiring events and newly met warm-hearted people. Back home I got so much support from my family and friends. I am endlessly grateful for their patience and understanding of my passion. It was very uplifting and very appreciated now and then.
On the other hand I’ve been criticised sometimes too for compromising a quantity with a quality (too many countries vs too short period) but I totally don’t get it how people use their own measurements to judge someone’s else experience. Everyone has a different inner travel rhythm, everyone has a different definition of happiness and a different way to get there. I will defend my way but I’m open to a dialogue too. Any thoughts in this or any other topic are most welcomed.
It is indeed the journey I am the most proud of. Is it possible to be jelaous of our own memories and experiences? Because I am. I envy my old-self this trip. I cannot wait to come back to Pacific Ocean, I am sure one day I will.