Fiji Islands: Sulus, Sun, & Service
July 12, 2016
Bula! We’re in Fiji! Today was big travel day. Half of the group arrived from Los Angeles early in the morning. They passed the day with time on the beach and checking into our resort before the NZ kids arrived. The NZ group arrived later in the afternoon to Fiji. We all met at Saweni Hotel to have dinner and meet each other as one whole group. After some name games and ice breakers we were all off to bed tired from the long travel day.
July 13, 2016
Today we shrugged off our jetlag and began with a breakfast around 8 AM. There was toast and cereal with local fruits. I was so happy because I feel like my jetlag is gone because I slept through the whole night. Next we headed to the beach which was a short walk from the hotel. We played Frisbee, listened to music and worked on our tans. We were at the beach for a couple of hours getting to know each other and having fun in the sun. It was so warm and so lovely to be surrounded by such amazing people in a wonderful place. After a yummy Chinese food lunch we embarked on a trip to Nadi town and went shopping. We bought sulus for the village and a bunch of people got henna, which was super fun! After the town we had dinner at a really nice restaurant which involved dancing and lots of laughs. We met Solomon back at the hotel. Solomon is a member of the Nativi village we will be staying in. He reviewed several Fijian customs and traditions that we should be aware of prior to entering the village. I am very excited to meet my host family and help their community tomorrow!
July 14, 2016
The day started off with a fantastic breakfast of milk, fruit, and cereal. After breakfast, we left the wonderful Saweni beach hotel and headed off to town to catch our bus. When in town, we explored a very large market with a variety of fruits and vegetables and very tasty breads. After a nice adventure through the market, we hopped back onto the bus and prepared to meet our families. The view on the drive was amazing, filled with lots of small goats, horses, cows, chickens, and of course, the big, beautiful ocean. We were incredibly excited to meet the people in the village of Nativi. When we finally arrived after a long bus ride, we were greeted by many smiling faces and open arms. Then came the Sevu Sevu ceremony which was filled with lots of singing and dancing. We were brought back to our host families houses with amazing handmade flower necklaces. Shortly after, we gathered at the community center for some great tea and bread. Once tea was finished, we played with all of the children in the village until the sunset and there was no more light, but the stars. The evening was filled with laughter and fun. We all slept amazing other than the occasional rooster call.
July 15, 2016
Overall, it was a great day. Every morning, the roosters crowed and we all woke up eager for the day to start. After lots of cake and donuts at breakfast, Adam assigned us a work station. Some people would go to a build a house and the others would teach at the school. The school was filled with many cute kids and friendly faces. We taught them about the compass and more geography skills because they picked up the lessons very easily. We also played games such as four corners which made the kids laugh a lot. After class, we went back to the village for lunch. Lunch was amazing as always. We went back to the school after lunch and played games with the kids because on Fridays, they have an hour of activities. All the kids were very fast and all of us had to run our fastest in order to catch them. It was such a fun visit to their school and see how they still learn and teach with smiles after all the damage of Cyclone Winston. After we said bye to the kids at school, we had some wonderful afternoon tea and played with the kids in the village. Dinner was so yummy. We got to try the kava after though. Everyone has different thoughts about it. However, it was a wonderful experiment to try this drink. We danced a little after which ended our wonderful second day in the village.
July 16, 2016
Today was a very relaxing day. We ate our breakfast at 8 AM as usual. Saturday is when the locals play rugby. Fortunately for us, our village, Nativi, had a big a rugby match. The bus ride from the village to the field was fun because we fit the whole village into one bus including the rugby team! There were many teams at the field when we arrived. We set up a cheering section on the sideline and waited for the Korolevu Blacks (Nativi) to play. The Korolevu Blacks won 8-3! in a spirited and tight game. While on the sideline, we ate roti parcels for lunch. Even I, the pickiest eater, loved the rotie. After our victory, we all loaded back onto the bus and headed back to the village. Once in the village we all dispersed. Most of us played cards with sisters and brothers in the village while others took a nap. At 7 we met as a group to recap the day and share our favorite moments. We then had dinner and a few of us stayed in the community to listen to music and talk to our Nativi family.
July 17, 2016
Sundays in Fiji are rest days and almost everyone in Nativi goes to church. We all ate breakfast in the community center at eight and then went back to our houses to get ready for church. My Mama Lucy dressed up Tori and me in colorful sulus and matching shirts. Most of the boys wore white collared shirts with ties and black sulus. Church was enlightening. Nearly all of the prayers were in Fijian; however, one of the villagers gave us another welcome and said thanks with us. Everyone in the village embraced in song. Similar to church in the states, there was communion: bread and some type of red juice. I was kind of bummed that we didn’t get to try it! Church ended two hours later at twelve and we followed by taking pictures with the group and our host families. A group of us played cards until lunch where we ate rice, noodles, fried pumpkin, and chicken curry. After lunch, Noah and I met with Adam to talk about what we are going to do at school the next day. The rest of the day everyone played cards, read, and jammed to some good music. At eight o’clock, we all met for dinner and eventually made our way back to bed for a good night’s sleep before work tomorrow.
July 18, 2016
I woke up this Monday morning at 6:20 to roosters and think sheets of fog surrounding the beautiful village of Nativi. We gathered at breakfast at eight, like always, which included crepes, bread, and tea. We finished around 8:40 and hung out until nine when we split off into groups for work. I was put on construction duty today. First, we worked on two meshes for the house’s foundation. By the time we were done, we were dismissed for lunch. After lunch, we talked about our different service experiences. We returned to work around 1:45. We made holders for the cinderblocks and it started to rain. We sat down at tea at four after a couple hours of work. Showers felt so good after a long day. Our seven o’clock meeting was filled with information about our next day in Fiji. We all told our warm and fuzzies and cold prickles. Dinner followed which was filled with noodles, sausage, rice, tang, and pineapple. Because it was our last night here, we had a closing ceremony composed of prayer, dancing, and Cava. We all slept well after our busy final day.
July 19, 2016
I have really enjoyed the village life, but I am very upset that this is our last morning there. Tong and I packed our stuff and watched the sunrise. It was beautiful because it was filled with pink and orange. I gave my host sister a bag of goods that she could remember us by. I said goodbye to her as she left for school. Breakfast was so good because of the amazing donuts and tea. When it was time for us to leave, my host dad called Tong and I over and gave us a handmade flower necklace. I cried when I received it because I was so sad to leave and it was so pretty. I will miss this village a lot and I hope to return one day. It was just so nice to get to know everyone in the village. Everyone in the village is so warm-hearted and I felt like I was part of the community. In just these five days, I have created such a strong bond with them. I treated them as if they were my own brothers and sisters. After we left, I still couldn’t stop my tears. Once I think about them, my eyes still tear up so much. I calmed myself with the beautiful views of the ocean outside the bus window. We then arrived to the beach. It was so fun to swim around and collect sea shells. The rest of the group went scuba diving. We spent a really chill afternoon at the beach. After that, we had a three hour bus ride to the hostel. I got pretty tired once I arrived at the hostel. So, we ended the day with an early supper and headed off to bed.
July 20-21, 2016
Today was super fun! We woke up to a very beautiful sunrise at Takalana resort and a very tasty breakfast. To start the day we took a boat ride to a marine reserve that protected dolphins. Over 50 dolphins were swimming around our boat and it was so cool! When the boat came to a rest outside of the reserve, we all had the opportunity to snorkel around the reef. The water was incredibly clear and the shades of blue were breathtaking. When we came back to the resort we returned to a delicious lunch. We ate for about an hour and then went on a short hike to a waterfall. As we hiked, our guide Jim, explained all of the plants that we saw and their uses. The views were incredible. When we reached the waterfall and swimming hole, we all jumped in immediately. The water was cool and refreshing and the drop was only 5 feet. On the way back from the hike we saw many workers cutting the pine trees that had fallen due to Cyclone Winston. After dinner we met as a group to talk about logistics and evaluate out stay in Nativi Village. We talked about how staying in the homestay gave us a new outlook on life. We ended the day with a nice bonfire and a cup of milo.
Unfortunately, the next day was raining for the most part. We ended up having chill time in the morning and then half of the group went to the beach and the other went back to the swimming hole in the afternoon. At night we ate a traditional lovo, which is food cooked from an underground oven. The fish was soooo good! At night we did some closing activities and went over what our travel day will look like tomorrow. We finished with our warm fuzzies for the whole trip and listened to the locals play music on their guitars as we gazed at the ocean and reflected on our travels.