The Firewalkers, a Ceremony, and an Unexpected Guest

We walked into the elders’ house. I was sweating. Like everywhere.

The men were already gathered around the the tanoa, discussing news from the main island. The bundle of waka roots felt heavy in my hands. I knew it had more to do with its symbolic weight than its actual consistency (after all, it was just a plant).

Then seated villagers craned their necks to look at me and I froze.

Chietan ceremony

Holy hell, why couldn’t I stop sweating? Continue reading

That Time I Made Fijian Children Cry

D’Tui and her village friends wasted no time paddling out in the water on a handmade raft. They giggled and squealed and splashed water on each other. The village goat brayed pleadingly, wanting them to come back and play. He circled the bush he was tied to in frustration.

Village Children On Raft Continue reading

Journey to Beqa- Land of the Firewalkers

Ro Mereani paid the cab driver. I stepped out of the vehicle and stretched. It took longer than expected to get to the village of Vanua— the port for all the boats leaving to Beqa— but we had finally arrived. We were one step closer to our destination, to the home of Talei’s people, and her final resting place.

Talei grave

I looked out past the shoreline to the ocean. There, only a few miles offshore lay Beqa- the island shaped like a sleeping dragon. Even on a sunny day like today it stood shrouded in mist. I had to laugh at nature’s ability to make its own metaphors. Continue reading

Hilary Goes To Fiji- The Movie

I am a much better writer than director or editor. But in an effort to become multifaceted, I’m working on adding video content to Nomad Grad. Let’s call this progress. =)

Fiji Water

I’ve got adventures, spiritual experiences, and a very important visit to the village of the Firewalkers still yet to share with you. But first, I bring you a video that captures the spirit of this adventure. Let’s call it a teaser trailer. Or the musical number right before intermission. Or that thing I did just for funsies. Maybe you’ll love it and possibly call it Oscar worthy. Or maybe you’ll give it a 12% on Rotten Tomatoes… Continue reading

An Experience of A Lifetime- Cub Cuddling

NomadGrad.com and The Lion Habitat Ranch hosted a visit from the grand prize winners of the Cub Encounter Contest, Keith Olsen and Stacey Moore. They came all the way out from Bellingham, Washington to play with the newest members of our Vegas pride.

cub encounter winners

I couldn’t wait to give you guys the full run-down of their visit, and Stacey Moore was kind enough to share some words about her experience. I hope you enjoy their journey as much  as I enjoyed sharing it with them! Continue reading

That Time I Met The Muppets…

“Okay, so this is where the magic will happen,” Bill Baretta gestured to the open space lined with dozens of tables. “Jane will be here shortly to set up The Workshop. I’m sure she’ll be happy to have you. We can always use an extra set of hands.” I nodded, still stunned I was talking to the Bill Baretta- lead Muppeteer with the Jim Henson Company.

Billbarretta2011

My dad leaned over and whispered to me as he left to go work on set, “You should hear him do all the character voices. It’s incredible.”

I believed it. I’d never met a Muppeteer before, but there was something about him that was- for lack of a better word- whimsical. Did all Muppeteers possess this magical quality? Or were my powers of analysis dulled by my extreme excitement over being a Muppeteer Assistant for a day? Continue reading

Announcing the Winner of The Lion Cub Encounter Contest!

Okay, so I know you probably don’t care, but I have learned that giveaways are exhausting. Between reading your touching stories, answering questions, promoting the contest, and assisting in cub care, I’m ready for a week-long nap. The outpour of support and interest in this giveaway and The Lion Habitat Ranch has been so overwhelming. We are all so grateful for your support and enthusiasm! On behalf of NomadGrad.com and The Lion Habitat Ranch, we thank you.

lion cubs

And after a grueling week, reading your heart-felt entries and what this encounter would mean to you, The Lion Habitat Ranch trainers have chosen a winner. Drum roll please… Continue reading

Your Chance to Win a Lion Cub Encounter

This contest is now closed. 

‘Tis the season to be jolly! And in the spirit of gift giving and sharing the love, I am happy to announce that Nomad Grad is holding its FIRST giveaway. And let me tell you, it’ll give you the warm and fuzzies.  =)

Lion Habitat cub & bottle

A Once-In-A-Lifetime Opportunity

Have you ever dreamed of holding an adorable lion cub? Getting a photo with a baby Simba? Maybe even sharing that magical moment with a loved one or child? This season, we’re making dreams come true!

If you live in or near the Las Vegas area, or will be visiting for the holidays, now’s your chance to live the dream! Continue reading

When Tropical Bugs Attack

“Oh my God!” My dad was panicked.

I gave him a look. “What’s wrong with you?”

“I— We— We thought something had happened.” He had his ‘worried Dad’ brow. My mom gave a nervous smile.

I bit into my banana, chewing slowly before asking. “Whhhhhyyyy?”

Skyping parents Continue reading