In honour of Mother’s Day:
Some of the funnest memories I have are of hitting the road with my mum.
In Fiji the roadtrips were not long–a weekly, hour-long migration from the capital, Suva, to various beach hotels or the grand five-star resort island of Denarau. My mum would chat with the locals atthe front desk, dropping all the right phrases and exchanging friendly laughs that would earn us the special local rate. We lived for three years as caucasian ex-pats in Fiji and the locals took us into their community unhesitatingly.
These roadtrips were more about the end-point. It was sweltering hot in our little Toyota, and often we would pick up a couple Fijians along the road who needed a ride. In Fiji, everyone shares what they can. Our neighbours would bring us fruits they had grown or invite us for a lavishly generous home-cooked meal. We would hire gardeners or maids in need of employment and give people rides. There were no questions, just a silent code of trust and generosity.
Once we arrived at these hotels, we would have access to gorgeous, vast outdoor pools with floating bars serving ice cream and beer. These pools overlooked an even more brilliant sight: the ocean with rolling waves and a soft (albeit often artificially so) beach. My sister and I would laugh at the tourists crowded in the pools with the pure, open ocean before them.
We also had access to the Bula bus, a loud, blue bus painted with pink hibiscus flowers that would shuttle tourists from one luxury hotel within the island to another. Every visitor could use the other hotel’s pools, amenities and restaurants. My sister and I would stand at the front, exchanging grins as the Aussie passengers would admire the wonders of “Den-a-roo.” Then we would range from pools with giant waterslides hidden within the large face of a Tiki, to ones with large whirlpools and lazy rivers. Additionally, we also had access to inexhaustible breakfast buffets, a general highlight of my childhood.
You could say Fiji was paradise for me, as a young kid able to experience all its beauties without confronting the poverty & corruption of a history riddled with military coups and dictatorships.
Now, in Canada, our roadtrips have been more about the journey. Most of them have been climbing related, driving down to competitions across the country. My mum and I travel well together because of our mutual joy in escaping to new places. We are never driven to plan our trips extensively; she searches up a couple great B&Bs or hotels in the area and we make sure we get to the competition or family gathering on time but then we let the road carry us (accompanied by a great playlist and some committed sing-alongs).
I’m not going to divulge all the wonderful stories I have from past roadtrips; what happens on the road stays on the road. Let’s just say we’ve had some crazy surprises trying to figure out the competition climbing process on the fly two weeks after my first lead climb, some harrowing stretches flanked by speed-thirsty truckers in a B.C. rainstorm, and some fun nights out when I probably should have been resting for an upcoming comp.
We’ve been to some great restaurants–and some great hotel bathrooms: chinese bakeries–fluffy toilet seats, family-run Italian restaurants–showers with 5 faucets (two of which aimed unsettlingly at the butt), Vietnamese cuisine–60s wallpaper paired with heated marble flooring.
These experiences have shaped my lifestyle, and I’m so glad to have shared them with my incredible mum.
Happy Mother’s Day and vive roadtrips!