We were looking for a total and preferably frictionless escape. I knew I was on a break from work, but I also wanted a break from cooking, cleaning and shopping.

Earlier in the year I googled five star resort + wheelchair accessible + Fiji. We’d had a difficult few years. Our daughter had undergone several big operations and two years down the track we were adjusting to life with a disability and using a wheelchair to get around. Even visualising an overseas holiday felt like a triumph. Maybe we could live a good life – one with adventure – after all?

Fiji family

Part of the appeal of Fiji was the direct flight from Adelaide to Nadi: the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort was a further hour and fifteen minutes by charter bus. That service disappointingly was cancelled mid-year and we had to reconcile ourselves with a commute doubled in time with a pulverising dawn departure. Owing largely to the warm, professional and sensitive customer service with Qantas and Fiji Airways, it was fine.

I’d confirmed the room configuration a few days before arriving. I had a hunch that two Queen size beds would not go over well with the teen; it didn’t. But with a trundle bed costing a further $50 a night, he had to make do. Making do meant sleeping on the floor. The compromise involved handing him a bed for day time use. Like a cat Otto had his spots. The bed and the balcony, with a view of swaying palm trees. On occasion he would walk to the beach – and its length –  in search of a stronger WIFI signal. It was on one of these excursions that he befriended a Fijian boy similar in age who showed him how to whistle for hermit crabs and took him fishing for octopus.

The rest of us were poolside along with a good many other Australian, and a handful of New Zealander, families. With the resort at 90% occupancy it was lively, and sometimes, too full for my taste. For a bit of respite from small people I would walk over to the Adults Only pool, where I was often to my great surprise the only one in the water.

Compound life in the Pacific has many pleasures. With so much taken out of your hands – other than deciding which of the four excellent restaurants to eat at for breakfast, lunch and dinner ­­ – it allows you to rest. When it closed in, and it did at times, we peeled off in different configurations.

Fiji wildlife park

The men folk caught the local bus service to Suva for the day, a trip that took them through hundreds of kilometres of villages with their ramshackle concrete houses and roadside stalls. Hazel and I visited the Eco nature park across the road where we spent a morning under the canopy of trees feeding turtles. The park was similarly wheelchair and pram accessible. The waterslide required negotiating quite a few stairs. We managed them by taking our time. We were rewarded by the sheer exhilaration of travelling like a missile, arms crossed, feet pointed, down a twisting waterslide.

The teen thanked us on our return to Adelaide. I said “It was nice to have an adventure together.” His reply “We’ve talked about this. It wasn’t an adventure, it was a resort holiday.” Either way, it was a success.

 

Guest post: Anna Zagala and family, Adelaide, SA.

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