Amar arrived in Fiji, excited and anticipating the adventure before him. A middle aged man with a huge paunch approached him. Mr.Siek? Amar turned,
"Yes?" he answered "My name is Roy Dobbs, I work for an environmental agency and we have been following your work. We feel it's very impressive in its simplicity, yet it appears to have far reaching applications." I wondered if I might have a word with you?"
He indicated a small coffee shop in the modest airport. Amar, looked puzzled but then thought to himself that there was no reason not to listen? Over coffee Mr.Dobbs outlined the plan his agency had in mind. "With our resources we can reach so many more people on an expedited basis." There would also be a team under you and you could further your research by a huge margin."
Roy Dobbs continued. "Don't get me wrong, you are doing a great job but how would you like access to more support with this and potentially have the career opportunity of a lifetime?"
Amar was stunned and if he were to admit it to himself a little annoyed. He was doing important, critical work. He looked at the man. "Why here and why now? Why didn't you approach me back in the states?"
"Amar, we have a very unique plant here on Fiji that I wanted to show you myself. I want to give you a chance to see for yourself what is possible." Amar thought to himself "It can't hurt" and agreed to stay a few more days. He would call the village and tell them he would be detained.
He wondered what Belinda would think about going outside the prescribed design of their missions. Amar thought she would be thrilled if they could make advances more quickly.
That afternoon they flew to Savu Savu, a beautiful small island.There were some ultra expensive resorts there. One reported to be the most lavish hotel in the world. The rest of the countryside, though beautiful, spoke of 3rd world poverty. Homes make out of boxes, shacks, people who, despite the rampant lack of resources were valiantly trying to make a living.
The next morning Mr. Dobbs introduced Amar to his assistant George Green who was going to hike down one of the mountains to show Amar some of the natural resources and outline his plans.
As they drove through mountains with vistas of trees all around, there was an unnatural quiet that Amar noticed. George was said it was partly because there were very few birds in Fiji it was so far from civilization.
They hiked down a steep slope, slipping and hanging onto he trees as they descended hundreds of feet below. At the foot of the mountain was a waterfall that called out for Amar to enjoy. Stripping down, he jumped in and swam and played like an otter in the pool. It was so eerily beautiful that it seemed to have been arranged by angels.
"This is amazing George, but frankly what kind of plans could you possibly have that could be built in such a remote area?" There was nothing but the sound of the falling water. Amar called "George?" No answer. He put his clothes back on and began to retrace his steps as he repeatedly called out for George. "He must have fallen" thought Amar." He took out his cell only to return it to his pocket. He hadn't had service since he had arrived.
Trying not to panic, he searched all around the pool, climbed to the top of the waterfall, looking in all directions. Nothing. Leaving a note for George under a rock, Amar began to climb but since there had been so many twists and turns he had no idea which path was the right one.
Amar figured that his best bet was to climb straight up the steep terrain, certain that it would lead him to the main road. But after two hours Amar was beginning to get concerned, it all looked familiar but he hadn't discovered the road. He kept climbing.
Hours later Amar still hadn't found the road. He sat exhausted at the base of a tree. Feeling utterly alone and helpless, he prayed. It was becoming clear that he might not find the road that night. The sun was setting and he searched for a place to rest. He had eaten the last of his energy bars. He tried not to think of his hunger or his fear. Though his cell wouldn't call out, he used it to record notes of his predicament. Amar meditated, and thought of Belinda, sending her waves of love. He thought of what she had told him of her upbringing so he spoke to the trees, to the stream, to the wind, to all the elementals asking for help.
Just before dawn he awoke feeling someone looking at him. He opened his eyes to a furry creature staring at him. Trying not to scare or antagonize the animal, Amar slowly rose. The creature looked at him unafraid. It started to walk away. Every few steps, it would stop, turn around and look at Amar as if beckoning him to follow. It was a completely different direction than the one Amar had been climbing but since all of his efforts had gotten him literally to the middle of nowhere, Amar decided to follow.
Stop and start, stop and start. Amar looked at his phone which, although still had no service, did show the time. He had been following the creature for about an hour when Amar heard the sound of cars. He looked at his friend and knelt before him. "I owe you many thanks and maybe my life. I will never forget you." The creature stared nodding its head ever so slightly and ran off. As Amar stepped onto the pavement, he felt weak with relief.
It wasn't long before a friendly passerby gave him a lift to his hotel. After showering, he called the village and said he would be there the next morning. He sent a message to Belinda in which he described what had happened. He was certain now that he had been saved by his faith in her world.
He called the police, reporting Mr. Green's disappearance. An hour later, he received a call back from the precinct and was told there was no such person. What did it all mean? Suddenly, he chose to go to the airport, to leave that very night. No goodbye to Mr. Dobbs. He would message him. He just wanted to get away from this place. Amar felt less sure of what was real and what was not than he had in the mountainous forests of Savusavu. So beautiful, so strangely quiet. Much had gone on there that he could not see but certainly could feel.
He stepped on the plane and messaged Mr. Dobbs, he was going to stick with his original mission. He wanted to call Belinda. He should tell her that a man named Mr. Dobbs was not to be trusted, then decided he would tell her when he returned. He didn't want to frighten her. At the same time he had the strong feeling she probably would be able to explain what had happened in the woods and at the waterfall.
Belinda. How he loved her. Her eyes swam in front of him so clear, looking deeply into his core. My strong, tender one, I will be more careful. He slept on the plane dreaming he and Belinda were flying through the milky way, sliding down stardust roads that graced the night. Upon landing, he stepped off the plane into his new life feeling strong. Waving and smiling, he strode into the arms of the innocents, the believers, the lovers of life. He was home.