Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tattoos, Personal Bubbles, and Taxis

Hellllooo America (and the few other people around the world who also read this),
Per the usual, I will start off with my sincere apologies for the lack of blog… Isa. I guess I have just been caught up in life here…. Life… What life is that? You ask. Well… I have a few different projects going on from working on STI pamphlets to be distributed through out the country to tutoring math after school (Yes I have not taken math since high school, but thank you Mrs. Rowe for being an awesome teacher because I still retain so much that you taught us). My days vary from being super productive, to feeling like I just lost the last 6 weeks progress. I’ve learned/learning to be unbelievably flexible and not to be surprised by… well anything. Oh Fiji.

There is one new fun super awesome thing that I am doing here… I joined an outrigger canoe team!! (just google it… it’s easier than me trying to explain the sport) I paddle in a 6 person canoe with girls from around where I live and we compete against other clubs from my island. It’s so SO fun and intense workout as well. No offense soccer, but the ambiance of paddling practice definitely trumps you and your open grass field surrounded by forest. You really can’t beat being out on gorgeous blue water while the sun goes down.

And now, another segment of things I find different/fun/awesome about Fiji:

-Tattoos are pretty common around here. There are a bunch of tribal looking things as well as crosses/hearts/flowers etc. There is however one tattoo I don’t for the life of me understand: the inscription of a person’s name on the outside of his/her thumb. Whyyyy? Seriously, on more than one occasion I was talking to someone, forgot his name (locals here have a ridiculous memory when it comes to faces and names), looked at his hand, and there was his name! But whyyy? Is it in case you forget? Is it in case you drink too much grog and can be deposited at the proper residence? I still have never received a straight answer.

-Taxi drivers and I have a long-standing beef. In general, they are known to be very cheeky and not charge a fair price. However, I am very lucky because most people in my town know me and know I am not a tourist. Taxi drivers are also convinced that since I am a kaivalage (of European decent) I need a taxi anywhere I go. I’m pretty sure they either: 1. Think I will melt in the sun or 2. I’m rich… fail on both assumptions. Seriously, I will be walking down the road, the driver will honk a few times to get my attention (to which I respond with nothing because if you do any sort of gesture they will think you are hiring them), honk again while yelling “taxi”, honk againnn while yelling "cab" (in case I don't know what a taxi is?), then stare me down until I am out of site. I have even seen them turn around and hang out the window just to make sure I didn’t want a taxi. These guys see me every single day and they know that I walk to town every single day. Geeeez I just like to walk alright?!

-I know in the past I have spoken about Fiji time. Everything here just always starts a little bit, or a lot later then you had initially planned. It’s part of life… you just kinda deal with it and never wear a watch ever again. Anyways, so people move a bit slower however, in cars, they are SPEED DEMONS. Goodness. I feel like I’m in a Nascar race when I take any sort of transportation. Cars should not be excluded from Fiji time!

- So my personal bubble is pretty small. I’ve never really been the type of person who minded people being close to me. But. The aforementioned “personal bubble” does not exist in Fiji. At the store, in the market, at the ATM, at the post office, people stand right up behind you… Like could rest their heads on my shoulder. It really is maddening some days. Often on weekends I go on morning runs to town and I know I don’t smell like roses but that stench seems to stop no one. Still right next to me. However, I think I know why. The process of waiting in line here is much more… strict. You WILL be skipped if you are not standing close enough. After being skipped in line on several occasions I have even started standing closer (not as close as locals but closer than American standards). I probably should be escorted to the ATMs when I get back to the States… don’t want anyone thinking I’m trying to rob them... isa.

Before I wrap up this blog I just want to say:
1. Congrats to all the recent engagements! Yay so SOOO exciting!!
2. Congrats to all the recent grads!!! Woo hoo real world!
3. Happy almost Mother’s Day mom!!!

Miss everyone back home!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

No, I don't smoke unborn babies

Ahhh okay, no excuses, my sincere apologies for not blogging in forever… isa 2 months!
So first before I get into my life I want to tell you a little story about something that happened to a good friend.

One night my friend (a PCV) was sitting around drinking grog and smoking with some of the men in his village. The men asked him for a cigarette. He obliged and passed them his carton. Immediately they scoffed at his cigarettes and told him that they do not smoke his cigarettes (there is exactly one kind of cigs sold everywhere in Fiji named Benson and Hedges). Confused, my friend asked why and the man replied, “no, no we don’t smoke ‘unborn babies’ only ‘lung cancer’ and ‘heart disease’” (no joke, this conversation actually happened). Now completely perplexed and slightly disturbed he looked down at the box to try to figure out what they could possibly be talking about. Then, he saw it…

On the B&H cartons the government has placed one of three lovely different warning labels: “smoking causes lung cancer” “smoking causes heart diseases”, and “smoking will cause harm to unborn babies”. Apparently the men don’t exactly interpret these labels as warnings but in fact see them as different flavors. I kid you not. Their favorite is “lung cancer”… it’s stronger they say. My friend tried to these men that are all the same they just laughed and told him he was obviously wrong/misinformed/crazy.
I decided to ask around to see what people thought about the different “flavors” near me and got the same response from a bunch of people...
Fact: All B&H cigarettes sold here are the sameeeee. Isa Fiji!

All right so onto my life now. First and foremost an extremely belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to everyone! I had a wonderful holiday myself hanging out with other volunteers on this beautifulllll island called Taveuni (if anyone ever plans on going to Fiji, I HIGHLY recommend making the extra trip out to this island). It was a ton of fun but it just didn’t feel like the holiday season… I mean, it was just so gosh darn hot outside. Contrary to popular belief, Florida does get somewhat cold during the winter and I found that I really missed that this year. However, I know I shouldn’t complain; I’ve heard the weather has been pretty rough throughout the US.

Work has been going pretty well. It was nice to come back from holiday and look forward to getting started again at work. I’ve helped out with a bunch of forums/ meetings/events etc but by far two of my favorite things thus far have been tutoring math (they call it “mats” here) at a local high school and doing an aerobics class of some sort after hours at work. Yes, you read that correct… years of working at various gyms have paid off. .. aerobics … SO. FUN. As most of you know I have little no rhythm, but apparently I am a pretty decent aerobics instructor… enough so to at least provide entertainment for 45 minutes. What exactly does one do? Well ultimately it ends up being a little bit of everything... kickboxing, zumba, soccer (well kinda)…

I hope everything is going well back home! A giant THANK YOU to those of you who have sent me letters. I can’t even begin to describe how much they make my day!! I love them!!!

Miss you guys