Aussie Slang Lessons from Thunder From Down Under

G’Day, fellow adventurers! Hilary, your favorite “Park Ranger in Training”, here…

Working hard laptop copy

In my quest to become a knowledgeable and prepared Park Ranger, I’ve been doing A LOT research. On my mission to learn how to best ‘blend in’ with the locals, I received a little help from a very cool group of guys. They happen to have a headlining show here in Las Vegas. It’s no big deal. 😉 Continue reading

That Time I Bombed at The Fijian School

Mereani looked up from her paper as I walked through the front door. “Well? How did it go?”

Fijian SchoolChildren

I plopped down on the couch. “I’m not quite sure,” I said hesitantly.

She handed me a cup of coffee. “Tell me about it.”

I sighed, thinking back to the morning’s events. Continue reading

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

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

A Fijian Funeral

It was six in the morning. A storm brewed outside and my eyes were heavy with desire to sleep. I readjusted my seat and concentrated on picking out recognizable words flowing from the tongues of the Fijians surrounding me.

I was making egg salad sandwiches. Yep. Continue reading

A Birthday Blog and Why it Made Me Cry

This weekend I turned 24. Or rather, I had my 24th New Year. I like to look at it this way because I view every birthday as the opportunity to revel in the past 365 days of life and opportunities as well as anxiously look forward to the future.

And with this birthday looming, I spent the past few weeks drafting an apropro birthday post. In a perfect world, it would summarize my year of travels, experiences, encounters, and and all my hopes and dreams for the future (insert sappy music here).

Continue reading