December in Fiji
I complain a lot. But in truth I am a very lucky girl. I get to travel around the world with my music and last December I was in Fiji for a whole week, on a private island, at the beautiful Shangri-La resort on Viti Levu. Avalon Jazz Band was invited to perform there for an annual conference. We were fortunate enough to have a lot of time between concerts to explore the island and its surroundings. White beaches, luxurious flowers, huge delightful bats, rainbow-colored fish, passion fruit galore, warm tropical rain, island hopping, pineapples sprouting everywhere like mushrooms, and the friendliest people on the planet. Everyone is flashing pretty smiles at you and greeting you with a cheerful “bulah!” (means “hello”). I am not usually a big fan of tropical places (I am more attracted to fjords and sleigh-dogs), but I fell in love with this magnificent land and its generous, kind-hearted people. They kept asking me “is it true there are homeless people in New York?”. Because it is unthinkable to them. A very humbling and inspiring experience.
The highlight of my trip was going deep inside the jungle to a traditional village. We asked the chief his permission to visit the sacred waterfall located on his territory, then the village children guided our horses through the towering trees, over nine rivers, to the regal cascade. My dream to become Indiana Jones finally came true. I bathed in the magic waters, impressed the kids (and myself) by jumping from the tall rocks, and we had a picnic of fresh mango and cookies while we dried in the sun.
It was very strange to come back to New York. I left a part of my soul in Fiji. It is waiting for me there… and if I close my eyes real tight during the wee hours of the night, then sometimes the distant sound of honking cars and screeching Brooklyn stray cats transform into the rumbling of the sacred waters, or the sweet hum of a fragrant frangipani, and I hear the soft pounding of the lali drums right in the center of my heart, calling me back to my beloved Viti.