BY EMOSI LASAQA
“It was an unforgettable experience that will last a lifetime”.
That’s the verdict from Jimilai Geletasi after spending two nights at the award winning Castaway Island, Fiji.
The Naganivatu Villager in Naitasiri was the Mamanuca Environment Society’s Mothers Day text promotion winner.
Mr Geletasi said when he received a congratulatory phone call from Leone Vuki of Radio Fiji One on May 3rd -the first thought that crossed his mind was that he was being scammed.
“I could not believe my ears and until now, I still find it hard to believe because it’s just too good to be true. From the thousands who entered the competition, we are lucky to be chosen,” said Mr Geletasi as he scanned the sun kissed Mamanuca Groups of Island from the top deck of the Tiger 4 on Friday morning- 18 May.
The Naganivatu Villager said he only text once and was praying for a favorable result.
“This is the best gift my wife’s ever had. This is a dream come true. It’s like going overseas,” he adds.
They were even invited to the Tiger 4 cockpit as the Tiger 4 was leaving Mana Island Resort’s Jetty.
The feeling as they watched the high speed catamaran pulling away from the narrow Mana Island passage was of a kid in a candy factory.
“Understand us ‘tau’. This is the first time for us to travel on a boat. We didn’t know what to expect at all,” quipped the beaming 48 year old casual labourer.
The couple received a warm welcome when they reached the Island and were escorted to their Castaway Fiji ‘Island Bure’-big enough to holds five adults and children.
The room also has Air-conditioning, Fijian designed high roofs, Ceiling mounted fans, Large ensuite with shower, Toilet and vanity area, Hairdryer, Toiletries, Fans, Refrigerator, Tea and coffee making facilities including a Safe.
Despite the rain, the couple thoroughly enjoyed themselves -even taking part in welcoming of tourists.
On Saturday night, they were farewelled by the staff with a grog session that went right on until the wee hours of the morning.
Mrs Geletasi could only smile when asked on her reaction-on Sunday morning, May 20-after she handed over their room key to the resort management.
The 44 year old mother of three said she was returning from collecting fresh water mussel when she heard the news but only came to realise that it was true when her husband came home from work.
“I’m still absolutely amazed and shocked,” she said. I want to thank the Mamanuca Environment Society for this trip. The staff of Castaway Island, Fiji made us feel right at home. They are just simply awesome and we are truly grateful.
“We have been receiving phone calls from the villagers since Friday. Many would love to be here with us. Words are poor to describe the experience and we have a lot to tell our people.”
They were also given gifts from the resort’s management and fellow Naitasiri Staff Association as a souvenir back to the highlands.
Mamanuca Environment Society Project Manager Betani Salusalu said they have been running the promotion for the last four years.
And there are three other winners who are yet to take their reward.
“The promotion was collaborated by the Mamanuca Environment Society and Fiji Broadcasting Corporation, sponsored by Castaway Fiji, Mana Island Resort, Tavarua Island Resort and South Sea Cruises.
“Its only going to be bigger and better,” says Mr Salusalu.