Sunday, August 29, 2010

So you're super tan, right?

So the most common question I have received lately is “what exactly have you been doing.” Haha well, not too much yet. Let me explain.

I am the new person. I am clearly younger than everyone at work and very much fall in the category of “youth” here (please refer back to the Lets Talk about Sex Baby post). And even though I have a college degree (which I now have a copy of… thanks mom!), I cannot just jump right in and start working on a project. It takes sitting with coworkers during morning tea and talking to anyone who comes into our lobby and meeting everyone I can. Relationships here take time and can’t be rushed. Even if I somehow had a Doctorate and knew the cure for AIDS and cancer I couldn’t just jump right into a project it and assume they will embrace it (okay, well maybe if I had that sort of credentials then maybe, but you know what I mean). Essentially what I am saying is respect and trust must be earned first before even thinking about a project regardless of your background or education.

So it’s been seven weeks that I have been at my site (over 3 months in Fiji… time where did you go?). I have finally started to develop a routine. Wake up around 6am (that’s when our neighbors children wake up so in turn that’s when I wake up) , make a hearty breakfast/watch the sunrise over the mountains, take a shower, then head down to work around 8:30. I live on the top of a gigantic hill so the walk into town every morning is really nice but whewwwww… that walk up in the afternoon is a dooooozie. During the day I do everything from helping out around the office to working on my project. What project you might ask? That will be answered in a later blog once it is more solid. After work I usually stop by our fabulous market followed by a few laps at a local pool or some yoga with another volunteer in Lautoka who happens yoga teacher (quite convenient eh?). It gets dark by 6:30 so I spend the evening cooking/reading/occasionally a movie.

Okay and now to answer a few other life questions I get:

Is Lautoka big? Well… it’s big in Fiji standards. I think in there are about 60 000 people that live in the area. It is one of two “cities” in Fiji and we do have a 4 theater movie theater here… so its super big and fancy to me coming from 2 months in a village.

Do I live in a hut (traditionally called a bure here)? Nope, I live in rather nice flat outside of town with another volunteer.

Do you have electricity? Yep and I love it mainly because that means I can have a fridge.

Is it hot there? Yes it is, but right now its “winter”( fyi we are located below the equator). According to older PCVs, winter in Fiji just means it gets slightly cooler at night and its less humid during the day. Its funny to me when people walk around in the morning wearing a scarf and jacket… its like 78 degrees outside. But apparently it is unbelievably hot here during the summer… we’ll see how it compares to July in Florida… I’ll keep y’all updated.

Air Conditioning? Ha. Aircon?... Here? I’m so fortunate to have it at work we but at home… no way José. I do, however have a trusty fan! To anyone who has ever lived with me, yes I sleep with it every night and love it.

Do you have hot water? Well… not really. Our house actually does have a small hot water tank (which is super fancy) but water out here is a precious commodity. So every day our water is only on from around 4 am to 8 am and 4pm to around 6:30pm. So that hot water tank ultimately gets used after the city water shuts off.

How will you watch gator games? Ah I don’t know!!! Sore subject… still trying to figure that out. Not that we have cable tv or anything but Fiji has exactly 3 channels and I’m banking on them not televising American football… super sad.

You must be so tan!? Not at all actually… Fiji is super conservative even the cities. I wear skirts past my knees and wear non-revealing tops everyday. When I swim (with exception to that lap pool) I wear long shorts and t shirt over my bathing suit… so hot, I know.

Do you get homesick? Yes and no… some days are better than others. With recruitment (yes, I missed those sleepless recruitment nights dearly) and school starting back home, these last 2 weeks have been kinda rough. (If any PC 10 happens to stumble upon this… ROCK. OUT. KAPPA. And 07s,08s, and 09s… I hear y’all did a fabulous job!) But wonderful cards and packages from friends and family back home make those harder days so much better!!!! I really really love them.

Alright guys… gotta run. I am sorry about the long break in between posts… I promise to be better about them. Miss y’all. Go Gators!!!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Oh Fiji...

Things I perceive as different/fun/awesome about Fiji and Fijians

-Doors open in. You know when you go to stores and restaurants the doors open out, not here, everything opens in. I always forget this and look like a fool.

-Tang. Fijians love Tang. I know what most of you are thinking: “I didn’t even think Tang was around anymore”. But nooo my little Americans friends, Tang is very much alive and well. I’m pretty sure I drink enough Tang here to go to outer space.

-Time is relative. The pace of life here is much much slower. When you want to be on time somewhere, show up an hour late. When you want to be fashionably late… show at least 3 hours after the specified time. Ironically, the only thing that shows up early and leaves early is the bus. How people get anywhere sometimes amazes me.

-Pirated movies are a part of life. Apparently they are now regulated… I have yet to see this happen. I know its wrong… but movies, for $2.00… hard to pass up especially on a Peace Corps budget. I just watched Inception at home last night (ridiculous by the way… wow).

- So in the states I ate chicken and turkey and occasional red meat but I just never loved the taste, I’m weird I know… Now I am almost entirely vegetarian BUT, it’s not because it’s different here, it’s because they don’t debone anything. Take a bite into any piece of meat in a soup, or rice, or chop suey and you run the risk of being stabbed by a rogue bone in your mouth… terrifying really.

-So when an American runs into someone they know, whether it is a friend, an acquaintance, or even someone they aren’t particularly fond of, a common first question is “how are you?” But in Fiji they say “where are you going?” It totally catches you off guard at first and kind of comes across as abrupt and nosey but it’s just there where of saying hi!… so hello world.. Where are you going ????

-Supermarkets are everywhere. Seriously, on every corner there is a supermarket… they compete like CVS and Walgreens,. Supermarkets here are about 5 isles wide so you’d think they would specialize in different items, but they all sell the same things. There are two nicer supermarkets: RB Patel and MH. They are nothing compared to Publix but they are still pretty good. I live in an area where there is a bunch of expats so these stores occasionally have more western items… but for a price. I could buy a Cosmo here... for a whopping $22 or an 8 pack of Kraft singles for like $12.

-Fiji Rule of thumb: if food is on sale then there is a good chance it has expired or it will it expire tomorrow. Tricky tricky tricky… Always check labels!

-In general, Fijians don’t like cheese that much… I know. Ridiculous. The only time cheese is really consumed is on pizza. Here there are exactly three kinds of cheese: Rewa mild cheddar, Rewa tasty cheese, and Rewa pizza cheese… As you can see they got real creative with the names. Actually, tasty and pizza cheese aren’t bad and I have made a banging Mac and Cheese out of them.

-Okay so this is going to sound weird… You know when you tell someone your hone number you say the first three numbers and then the second four i.e. 867 (pause) 5309. In Fiji it’s not like that! They say four then three or five then two or whatever makes sense to them… ah this may seem like such a minor thing but it can really get complicated. 87-75309, 8775-309, 87753-09…. madness. After this rant, I know that you are thinking the whole blonde hair thing is proving quite true… judge away.

All right everyone. That’s all for now. Miss you all!!!