Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Year of Bagpipes and Boats

It is the end of the year. And in the name of vain celebration I wanted to document all the shenanigans (a word termed after me?. . . wiki it) of the past 365.24ish days. The following is the list. The order is what comes to mind as I type - so basically the typical way I do things. Each was given the same number as to eliminate ranking. I added pics if I had them. This is just how I roll. I know. You love it.

1. Played with guns on the Prime Minister of Fiji's Ship (he became the PM when taking over with a military coup. . perhaps I played with the gun that toppled the gov't!)

1. Acted like a doctor on Mel Gibson's private island to unsuspecting locals.

1. Hung with Bill Clinton.(and my husband in a super snazzy suit)

1. Played a bagpipe on top of mountain in a Bulgarian village (next to a giant cage?).

1. Saw a random baby being born.

1. Jumped in a bounce house - till I got kicked out.

1. Mastered Wii golf.

1. Ran a marathon (well. . .technically I didn't run anything. . .but JB did! - and I live through him, so it counts)

1. Smoked huka while playing backgammon and watching soccer in a salon with only old Turkish men.

1. Drank grog.

1. Drank rakia (traditional Bulgarian liquor).

1. Started drinking coffee and never stopped.

1. Hiked on the top of a mountain with snow up to my knees, with no trace of other humans around.

1.Meet the V.P. of Malawi (Hon. Joyce Banda), Jennifer Buffet, Kari Potts, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Bryer, Wayne Lapierre (ha. you're shocked right?!), Chris Elias, and some other high rollers.

1.Made a cornhole board.

1.Hung out at a cabin in the middle of Arkansas and played capture the flag in the middle of the night.

1. Went to white water (and i'm not talking real estate investment gone wrong. . i'm talking transportation devices for humans made from plastic chutes and water gone right! - they should put those things everywhere. right next to the stairs! (this also just made me think of the game Chutes and Ladders. . . the game is set up all wrong. you should start at the top and win by making it down first. . .cause everyone knows going down a water slide is way better than climbing UP a ladder)

1. Got a dog (well actually this is not true. but i'm hoping JB will read this and buy me one. here's to wishful thinking!)

1. Taught myself to knit. Who wants a scarf?!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Trick-or-Treating in Bulgaria = not such a productive idea. Some of my Scout kids asked me if i wanted to go trick-or-treating with them. Hell yeah. I love Halloween and I can seriously house some candy when given the chance (this is probably a result of growing up in house with NO candy and then marrying someone who thinks grapes and oranges are a perfect desert). So I threw together a costume. A soccer player. Very creative and time consuming to put together - I know. Those soccer socks were toward the back of my drawers.

Anywho, we went. And we were the only ones who got the Halloween memo. Cause the streets were empty. Knocking door to door in communist block style apartments and getting blank stares instead of candy is a far cry from Uncle Jimmy dressing up as a scarecrow and chasing unsuspecting kids down the road while throwing candy at them in the suburbs of America. But, by the end of the night we did score a few treats: a croissant (one to split between the 6 of us), a handful of purple candy, and a bag of treats from one family who KNEW Halloween (the lady even came to the door in a mask!). Here is a picture of the kiddies. Better luck next year - I think the holiday is just starting to gain steam - so don't give up!

Monday, October 10, 2011

On Aging

I turned 30 this week. I know! You are shocked, right? You can't believe it because of my youthful personality and my unaging face. I wouldn't believe it either.. .but i have been there to witness the whole thing - well, most of it, anyway.

I was really scared about turning 30 because unlike the other decade birthdays I have had, there is nothing (seemingly) big to look forward to in the next 10 years (at least under law)- except maybe trying to pay off my debt . . and that is never fun to talk about. . just ask the US government!

When I turned 10, I was pumped because that meant I was only 2 years away from getting my very own moped (which i did get when i turned 12, and drove to elementary school, and locked next to everyone's Huffy bicycles. and yes, I was a BIG deal. since then, i've never doubted my coolness. . sometimes when i feel bad about myself, i think. . .remember when you had to ask the teacher where to put your motorcycle helmet cause it won't fit in your cubby - you're awesome!).

When I turned 20, I was pumped because that meant i was only 1 year away from being able to legally throw back those Zimas with jolly ranchers in them.

In Bulgaria, having a birthday is like a nice kick in the teeth. Not only are you getting older and more decrepit, but YOU are the person who is suppose to buy all the drinks and chocolates and cakes for the people around you. You say, "hey guys! it's my bday! have something - I'm buyin!!!" and then everyone sings you Happy Birthday while eating your food. At first, I was really offended by this model of bday celebrationess, but then I realized it may be better. Sure, it may not be too thrilling on your birthday BUT every other day of the year some poor, aging, SOB will be buying the cake! That is like 364 potential birthdays just for you!

So I accept it. I bought my Scout kids candy and watched them run around the park on a sugar high. The kids (and my community partner) gave me photographs and wrote on the back of them and my landlord gave me a flower (covered in glitter! super bonus). So the day turned out to be really nice after all. And my anti-aging lotion must be working cause I look just the same as I did yesterday. Perhaps 30 won't be too bad.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Don't Read This. It has Opinions.

You should probably stop reading this now.

America does a lot of things really well. Like teeth. American dentists can take a kid with the most jacked-up horse-face and turn them into the star of a toothpaste commercial.

Most other countries aren't doing this. In fact, when i was living in Fiji the people asked me why American's like to put silver jewelry all over their teeth. Then i would explain that Americans have braces because without them half the country could eat apples through tennis rackets. . . .and that is not a look that is really "in" these days. I had braces and that is why I’m in toothpaste commercials now!

America is also good at making burgers AND inventing sports, with world championships - that no one else plays WHILE still giving the sport the same name of the world's most popular sport - even though they are nowhere near the same. These things are working! I'm craving a burger and have been trying for a week to live-steam a college or NFL football game. What's wrong with me? I'm American.

But let's get to the point.

America is TERRIBLE with alcohol policies. Throughout the world people are legally drinking at 18 or 14 or 3. But we are sending kids off to wars, college, and medical physicals without a shot of tequila first. I'm not advocating for handing 5 year olds cases of Paps Blue Ribbon (but if they do drink. they should drink this. it is basically water). In fact, i'm not advocating for anyone to drink. But I do think we need to calm down as a nation.

The other day I was in the grocery store and one of the kids I work with came in, she just turned 10 years old, and she bought 3 beers. She was taking them to her dad and his friends. The cashier didn't ask her anything. I am almost 30 and in America I still have to give my id and a blood test to buy a bottle of cough syrup. I think the strictness of our laws is dangerous. I have seen friends binge drink to the point of hospitalization. It was only because they were dumb about alcohol. They were dumb about alcohol because we (Americans) have commercials telling parents to avoid drinking with and around teens and cops searching for 20 year olds in nightclubs. So kids sneak alcohol in back alleys and drink whatever they can get their hands on. Which is usually cheap finger nail polish remover. no wonder they are losing their livers.

In Bulgaria I have seen adolescents passing a beer around in the street. Once they were sitting on the playground equipment at a school (not during school hours). At first i was disturbed. But then i realized. This is good. I would much rather have kids sitting around sharing a beer where everyone can see them than kids chugging handles of vodka in abandoned buildings. As a nation we need to reexamine our alcohol polity and lighten up a little. Also, if you are underage. I will NOT buy booze for you. But I will pick you up from a party and feed you a sandwich before I tell your parents what a terrible child you turned out to be.

Friday, September 9, 2011

I'm not always this truthful

There is a gnarly scab on my knee. I got it today. This is what I would tell you if you asked me about it - which I know you would - cause your compassionate like that:

Today I was playing soccer with a bunch of guys. Once when I was going for the ball, I slide and somehow ripped open the flesh on my knee. It started bleeding everywhere but I didn't mind. I was proud of myself cause I won the ball in the tackle. And it didn't hurt so I kept playing and didn't say anything.

But the truth is:

Today I was playing soccer with a bunch of little boys. Once when I was going for a ball that had been kicked out of bounds, I fell on my own and somehow ripped open the flesh on my knee. It started bleeding a little but I tried to ignore it. I was totally embarrassed with myself cause I fell on my face - with no one around! It was our throw-in so I kept playing. It hurt but I didn't say anything because I didn't want to look like pansy.

the end. oh! I should mention (as a redeeming factor) in the game I scored 4 of our 6 goals! .....or did i?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Is this a World Record???

Holy moly this beer is ginormous. It makes regular sized beer feel bad. I bought the normal beer for $1.30 and the super-sized steroid beer for $2.70. I don't know how long regular beer can keep up in this market. Someone told me that every month they come out with a bigger beer - in order to out-do the competition. People better start making bigger refrigerators (and stomachs)...stat.

You know what else is big? The mountains. See... I went hiking.

That is a church, chillin on the hillside.

Friday, September 2, 2011

What's inside?

Near my house there is a shop. This is what it looks like from the outside. This is a fact. Look:

So for a long time I avoided it - it looks a bit out of my league. I never liked green apples- or scantly clad girls on chairs. Instead of going in, I wondered what might be sold inside. Everyday I saw all sorts of people entering: men, women, children, and some crazy chain-smoking guy in a wheelchair. Anywho, curiosity got the best of me. If curiosity killed the cat, I'm not sure why it hasn't killed me yet. I'm curious about a lot of things.

Inside was one long freezer and one long aisle of . . . . food. It's a grocery store. Of course it is.

Naked or pretty risky images of women appear everywhere. The other day I bought a newspaper from the side of the road for 50 cents for a game that I had planned for the kids. But as soon as I opened the fold there were naked girls. So I skipped the game. I can't be handing out that out to minors. . . maybe I will be arrested and have to spend my life in a dungeon.

Then the next day my community partner bought a newspaper to make paper hats for the kids. The same, well, not the exact same, pictures scattered the press as the day before - when I threw the paper away. But don't worry. She made the hats anyway. And the kids proudly walked around town with paper hats with smatterings of what I once thought were inappropriate pics. I was wrong. Now I'm really mad at myself for throwing the first paper away - I had a really good game in mind and now I'm short 50 cents.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Bieber Backfire

During the day I take a group of kids out for hikes and out to play silly (but incredibly fun) games (and I know. cause I play too.). And since I always strive to be the cool (in a I'm-not-trying-to-be-cool-but-I-am kind of way), I try to relate to the kids in areas of pop-culture.

Most of the kids I am working with are 10-12 year old girls. I thought to myself, "i bet these girls just drool over Justin Bieb-ster. I bet they think he's soo dreamy with his fancy high-tops and autobiographical movie. My God, even Fiji's Prime Minister has the hots for his combed forward wispy hair (see my other blog post to learn more about this)." So I asked the kids, in a cool way (cause i'm trying to be cool here), "so you like Justin Bieber?"

And their response?!! they say, "UGGGGG. HE IS TERRIBLE!" then they say, "Do you like White Snake? What about Ozzy? Or Queen? Or ACDC? Or Pink Floyd?"

shit. these kids may be too cool for me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Learning to Read

Knowing how to read is GREAT! I highly recommend it to everyone. My 7 year old sister is super at reading - she can read like a real-life 13 year old. For real. They should be testing that kid for using brain steroids. She could be a drug cheat. But like they say, if you ain't cheatin'; you ain't tryin' (i think they are southerns, like my friend Spencer Lucker, because they say words like ain't). Kuddos to her.

In fact, kuddos to you! Obviously, you have mastered the art of reading too. I can tell because you are making sense of all these crazy symbols that are crammed together. Or sorry. . .maybe you are that poor sucker that is stuck having someone read this to you because you haven't learned the fine art of reading yet. . .but don't worry there is still plenty of time! I know. I have been learning how to read this week.

Everything here is written in Cyrillic. A wonderful lady in the Peace Corps Office gave me a book with the Cyrillic symbols listed next to how they would sound in the Roman Alphabet. like H symbol sounds like Na. I tore that page out of the book and now I aimlessly walk through town trying to decode every signs' meaning. I can spend several minutes staring at a sign, slowly, painfully, sounding out the word. Every once in a while the word will be the same as in English. Then I lose it. I jump up and down and scream to the frightened pedestrians, "HA HA HA. It says C-O-FF-EE! I think they sell C-O-FF-EE here!!!" And since must people don't speak English, they think I'm crazy. And the people who do speak English also think I'm crazy. But it doesn't matter because I'm very proud of myself. And that is what learning to read is like - feeling incredibly dumb for 10 minutes and then feeling incredibly smart for 30 seconds - and then starting all over again. It is totally worth it.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Ok. Listen. This stuff is big news. I moved. . . . to BULGARIA!!!

Let's get down to business: I had to change the fish background of the blog (in case you are new to the scene - there use to be fish where those crazy lasers are (also i think laser should be spelled lazers...cause it's cooler that way) because now that i'm in Bulgaria I don't expect to see fancy-tropical-coral fish. Leaving them up would be false advertising. Do I expect to see lasers?! You betcha! well, maybe. well, i doubt it.

Before moving here I knew as much about Bulgaria as I do/did about Herman James Linstell. Which is nothing - especially since I made-up Mr. H.J. Linstell. Anywho, I'm learning fast. There is sooo much to see and learn. Like the Cyrillic alphabet! The following is a quick list of the things I have learned that I love so far:

-there are sunflowers everywhere.
-when people talk about something they like they raise their voice and use their arms a lot. if you love something you shout about it. DID I TELL YOU ABOUT HOW MANY SUNFLOWERS THERE ARE?????
-a bottle of wine can be bought for approximately $1.25 USD. WOW, WINE!!!
-coffee and espresso can be purchased from vending machines on the street for a few cents. it comes out fresh, hot, and with a little stir stick. (i just have to learn Cyrillic and Bulgarian to know what exactly i'm ordering, when i'm pushing those buttons)
-fancy cars drive past my house. so do horses pulling carts.
-there is a public pool by my house - that plays rap music on load speakers, sells beer, and has a soccer field.
-there is a place that has bears. and you can feed them!(i guess you can always feed bears, but at this place you give them fruit - not your kidney)

who knew? i certainly didn't. but I do now. and so do you. tell a friend. and come visit.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Supermodel Documentary Hour

Now that I am in the States, I thought I would sum up my trip with some pics. . . and add illustration to some of my blog posts. I will be leaving for Bulgaria in the middle of August so perhaps I will pick back-up blogging then. Anywho, enjoy.

Eating in a Village

Leaving a Village Health Outreach. We like boats.

I taught my co-workers the emotion game - the person holding the camera yells out an emotion, situation, or animal, just before snapping the pic and the "models" have to quickly act out what was said. This is "monkey" -

Guns and Coffee on the Prime Minister's Boat -

Figuring out the results of the "Baby Show" in my Fijian dress. Who says I don't know how to get "dolled" up?? Nobody!

Ice is good at climbing trees -


Drinking grog -

Grog Drinking -

Doing a village cleanup. Everything is mowed with a weed-eater. I am a pro.

Relaxing with a fresh drink -

Cleanin' fish for dinner (we caught all these fish in about 5 minutes with a net just off shore) -

Dhalhole! -

My students from 2004-2006. They are soccer refs now! World Cup prepare.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Dhalhole - A Gift that Keep on Giving

i finished my project! so you can clap your hands and give a few hearty cheers. and what is even more impressive (or maybe equally impressive) - I made a full cornhole set for the island. if you don't know what cornhole is - i feel sorry for you. it is great. google it. i even sewed the bags myself! (with my friend Ice - which is the coolest name ever! and even not in a pun kind of way!) My skill with a needle and thread was tested for the first time and I think i did well considering I never even took home-ec in jr. high! - i opted to play the trombone for the band instead. If you have ever heard me play the trombone you would know I made bad choices in jr. high.

instead of using corn for the bag i used dhal so maybe the game should be called Dhalhole. Now this feat is real public service. you are welcome world. I'm a real giver.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Fijian's don't have doorbells (That I have ever seen. And everyone knows if I haven't seen it then it doesn't exist. . .like the Easter Bunny or Antarctica). Maybe it is because they never close their doors.

When Fijians are home, and not sleeping, they leave their doors (and windows) wide open. If the door is closed (aside from the conditions listed above). . .it means that the people inside are weird, they hate everyone, and they want to punch you in the face instead of offer you tea. Stay away from these people, their homes, and their fists. Closed doors DO NOT mean the owners want to prevent bugs, dogs,frogs, or chickens from getting inside - that is just silly.

anyway, open doors create communal communities where everyone visits everyone, everyone eats with everyone, and everyone shares with everyone. Fijians are undoubtedly among the best sharers on earth. If a person buys a bottle of coke he will pass it around until it is empty (there is no such thing as saving for later). If someone gets paid then he will be the one shouting drinks for all his unemployed friends. Once I was on a bus and some lady brought some papaya. She cut it into pieces and passed the tray down the aisle until everyone had a piece.

Sometimes the definition of Fijian sharing is equivalent to American stealing. For example, when you enter someone's house you take off your shoes. When you leave someone's house you take a pair of shoes. sometimes those shoes aren't your original shoes. Sometimes you didn't bring shoes to start with BUT if you leave first you can take some with you. Meaning, if you are last to leave, your trek home might be barefoot. No one is stealing your shoes. They are just borrowing them until you "share" them from outside another house.

I regress. Fijian's don't have doorbells (or closed doors) - so when people come over they knock on the door frame. the knock happens with the pointer finger in rapid succession. as they continually tap, tap, tap, tap, they will say your name over and over and over and over. it drives me mad but it works well - cause I always come running in order to make it stop.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Food - for you foodies

Last night I dreamt I was unleashed in one of those crazy American style buffets – the kind where every type of food imagined is somewhere, sitting under a bright heating lamp, slowly turning into plastic. I loved it! I didn’t know what to do with myself. My God; the options!!! I was sprinting in circles, trying to decide if I wanted macaroni and cheese, a breakfast burrito, a make-it-yourself salad, or just liquid cheese dip. My dreaming self, smartly, and health consciously, opted for everything. But when I got to the register, the lady in the hair net told me the total was $9.50 and I panicked. I didn’t have any money. It was a disaster of epic proportions. Then I woke up. And to be totally honest, I’m still a bit depressed – I was really looking forward to that liquid cheese.

The menu in Fiji would put the fanciest seafood restaurant to shame. If you want seafood; Fiji is your place. If you crave anything else. . .well, you’ll have to dream about it. The menu here looks something like this. . .all these items can be served with your choice of rice, cassava, dalo, or breakfast crackers:

• Fried Fish
• Boiled Fish
• Fish in coconut
• Fish with onions
• Fish with papaya
• Crab
• Lobster
• Curried Crab and Lobster
• Eel
• Octopus
• Oysters
• Seaweed
• Shark

Eating in a Fijian village goes something like this:

• Everyone sits cross-legged on the floor(on a mat made of palm fronds) around a long piece of cloth which is somehow acting as the table.

• The most important people sit at the top of the “table” while the least important sit at the bottom. It is a visual ranking system. If you wanna know how you are viewed in the Fijian community, just go to lunch. (also, men tend to be at the top and women at the bottom. . or they are in the kitchen finishing all the cooking).

• After a prayer everyone eats.

• You eat with your hands (which really is the best way)

• Bones and shells and seeds are still intact so as you eat you must carefully debone, peel, and unseed your food treats.

• If you are lucky you will get to eat the head of the fish. A majority of Fijians agree that the fish eyeballs are the best part. On this, I must disagree.

• While you eat, everyone around you will say, “Eat. Eat a lot. Eat.” They will say this the entire time you are stuffing your face. Even if you sat eating for 14 days and your gut outweighed a Killer Whale’s, they would still keep saying it. These people love to encourage a hearty appetite. (it is shocking Diabetes is the leading health problem is the country).

• When you are finished eating you will wash your hands in a bowl of water. Then you will say, “thank you for the food. I will rest now.” Then you move away from the “table” . . . By doing this you are allowing another person (who doesn’t rank as highly as you) to come sit in your spot and begin their meal.

The culture here embraces fat people. When you are looking exceptionally stunning someone might tell you, “My! Haven’t you gone fat!” Men sitting on the side of the road holler to attractive women by yelling, (essentially) “Hey, Fatty. You’re really Fat!” – it’s their catcall. It is a compliment. The word for fat is uro. So they really say, “hey, Uro. Uro Levu!” When guys yell this to me, I like to yell back, “Hey. Ulo. Ulo levu!” Ulo means worm in Fijian. sometimes my cleverness even astounds me.

Anyway, this is making me hungry. I gotta go eat.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sparkleface and Glitterface

My neighbor is the best - hands down. This is evident because he is raising a baby sea turtle. He (the sea turtle) will be released into the ocean once he is big enough to have a high chance of survival. I do my best to be a good citizen of the world - i feed him in the afternoons. We have named the turtle Sparkleface (April's namesake) A nameless dog that usually roams around near Sparkleface is now called Glitterface - the dog is laying behind me in the top picture.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Tragedy

To fully understand the tragedy of this story you should read the post “In Electric Shock” first.

So the boat carrying all the island’s supplies, minus our fuel, came and left today. When it left three nurses left with it. One for maternity leave, one for annual leave, and one to take two patients to a more fancy hospital than ours– a hospital that can provide anesthesia with surgery.

I spent the evening at the wharf, with basically the entirety of the island's population, to say goodbye to all the boat’s passengers (and esp. the nurses). The boat’s coming and going is a big deal – much like the Oscars, the Olympics, or Indie 500 (remember these people don’t have televisions or shops or restaurants or mini golf). This once a month occurrence is “The Event” of the month.

When Fijians want to give a good wave hello or goodbye they use both hands and do an exaggerated double wave- moving both arms up and down like they are trying to fly. I love the double wave business and try to execute it whenever there is an appropriate occasion.

The boat left at 10pm and I stood with my flashlight on the wharf. As soon as the boat began to drift out to sea I began my Fijian double wave. I moved my arms up and down with such force that my poor flashlight became unhinged from my grip and flew into the water. It plopped into the ocean below and sank at warp speed. I yelled out a few expletives – because now I am flashlightless and now the electricity will not be working. Now I will really have to learn how to see in the dark. FML.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

In Electric Shock

The hospital is going through a renovation. Part of the renovation is the installation of a brand new, more powerful, generator. Everyone is really excited because it will be able to supply enough power to take an Xray and power the lights at the exact same time!!! The current generator can’t even produce enough power run two electric kettles at the same time.

Everyone around the hospital is high-fiving and celebrating. Soon we will have electricity for more than a few hours per day and more than two hours in the night. Think of all the activities we can do! So many activities!!!

Well, everyone WAS high-fiving and celebrating. . .until today, when we got a phone call from the main island that said that they had forgotten to put our fuel on the boat (which is arriving today). No fuel = no way to run the generator (the new one or the old one) = NO electricity until the next boat arrives. The boat, well it comes just once a month (and only if the weather is good). So no lights, no electric kettles, no xrays, no refrigeration for the immunizations (?), no fans, no nothing for 30 days. I hope if people get injured it happens during the day. And if babies decide to be born they wait until sunlight. If not, medical care will be done by candle light. [And the computer classes I teach will have to be moved to the high school next door, because they use solar power instead of relying on million year old plant and animal decomposed gooey matter.]

Also, no fuel means the hospital truck/ambulance and boat will remain idle. Looks like people should avoid getting sick this month and I should learn how to see in the dark.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Werewolfs and Babies. . . but not in that order.

Baby:I work at the hospital and everyday someone new comes in with some kind of crazy disease or problem. A kid came in who poked out his eye with a machete. Once an infant drank gasoline because it was being stored in a Sprite bottle. He thought he was getting a tasty treat but what he got was 3 days in the hospital. Some people have elephantiasis and some have goiters but mostly we (the hospital) have women coming in to have babies.

(the population of the island is low and the hospital is small. usually we have about 3 to 4 patients admitted at one time. the waiting room is never full and the service is always good. and free. you should come next time your boil need lancing).

With all the new babies being produced here it seems like we are a baby-making factory. I decided I wanted to see how it all worked as I have never been in a delivery room. For the past few weeks I have been debating about asking if I could observe a live birth - out of fear (I was terrified that if something went wrong with the birth the mother would think I put some crazy foreign curse in the air and I didn't want to be blamed for anything. .. even if it was for only watching). Anyway, I finally decided I was being stupid and today when the nurses announced a baby would probably come in the afternoon, I jumped at the opportunity. I asked if I could watch and they said yes.

SO. today I saw a baby being born! holy moly. TV got it all wrong.

the mother was about 21 years old and it was her first baby. She was given no pain medicine. she did not scream. she did not make a sound. when she pushed you could see the pain in her face but shit, this girl could withstand waterboarding with a smile. she did not have a cloth or blanket covering her and there were no stirrups or anything for her feet. whenever she was pushing she would lift her legs and push them against the delivery nurses. I saw the entire thing. the head came out. then the body came swimming into the air. the entire process took about 45 minutes. the result - a beautiful, healthy, baby boy.

Another thing. The baby takes after his mom. when he was born he let out a quick little yelp and then didn't cry after that. at all. He just opened his eyes... and looked around the room. this baby could have been born in the library and no one would have noticed.

Werewolf: I live with the head doctor of the hospital and her 14 year old brother. Today when I came home from work, Jack (the brother), asked me,

Jack - Hey, what do you know about werewolfs?
Me- A lot! (even though I know nothing except for what is portrayed in Teen-Wolf the movie. I said that because I wanted to see where the conversation was going. It is not often a kid asks you about werewolfs in a their second language.)
Jack - Are they real?
Me - no. they are only for fun. . . for movies. . .why?
Jack - uh, cause I'm worried I'm turning into one.

turns out: poor jack was bitten by a dog when he was 13. shortly after he started growing - a lot! he became hungrier then ever. he was always craving food especially meat. he wanted to sleep all day but stay up at night. and mostly, when older people told him what to do he became really angry. He still has these symptoms today. and they are getting worse!

I told Jack I think that he is not a werewolf but he is just going through puberty. And these terrible symptoms will go away after a several long hard years. I also told him I would lock my door and avoid him on nights of full moons. Just in case.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Picture Time!

Its a Christmas Miracle! The internet is working super fast (uploading these pics only took a few hours!).

This is a pic from the church (which I talk about in the post Safety First). It is right next to the hospital and below is one of the villages.

Throughout the week we go to different villages to provide medical screening and services. On the way to one village we came across this. . . and then we turned around. . . hope no one was too sick!

Flying to Mel Gibson's private island:

fresh coconuts from the side of the road.

I Know Impressive People - and some of them know me too!

Listen: in case you have forgotten the women's world cup is starting in just 1 day! And depending on when you read this - it may have already started!!!! (for those of you who are not reading my blog immediately following my posting. . .which, I bet, is everyone. . .except me. . .who lavishes in my own writing/work/existence) So, go turn on your tv (if you have one) and watch America (i hope) come home with the cup. BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY - WATCH FOR

Finau Vulivuli. She is one of 16 center referees chosen to officiate the tournament. Finau is from Fiji and when I was in Peace Corps we started refereeing together. We became the first female referees in the country. We traveled together to control men's professional matches. I thought we were a big deal. Now i know, Finau IS a big deal. anyway, watch for her. she's the one who never makes mistakes.

Also. on the trend of impressive folks:

this story isn't about Fiji but it happened while I was here. Thus,I will include it for your reading pleasure and mostly, cause I like it.

for Christmas JB and I gave everyone in our family a photo of us standing with President Bill Clinton. President Clinton has his arm hanging over our shoulders and we look like best buds. . .which is awesome cause well. . .it just is.. . and you know it!

Anyway, my father is the type of guy who hears anyone talking about kids and he will whip out a photo album (that he carries in his briefcase) to showcase how attractive his own kids are (why do you think I'm so vain). Someone could be talking about baby goats and half a second later my dad will be saying, "well, look. Look at my group of little rascals" and then he'll shove a dozen photos in their face (even if they are blind).

So the other day my dad was talking to a client (about painting a house) and dad starts showcasing his kid photos. When the client sees the photo I described above, the following conversation ensued:

Client: Wow! Your daughter got a picture with him!
Dad: Yeah. She's in grad school at the Clinton School so she gets to see Clinton sometimes.
Client: I'm NOT talking about Clinton! Look! Do you know who that is??? (starts pointing). . .. that is Josphat Boit! He is an amazing runner.
Dad: Oh yeah. JB - That's her husband. She gets to see him ALL the time.

so anyway, kudos to JB, and Finau, and President Clinton. . . i am continually shocked by your awesomeness.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


First of all, the only reason I haven’t written is because the internet has stopped working since my last post. But I’m still alive and all is well. Once again, I wish I could post pictures to help explain this post but I instead I will be grateful that I can upload text.

Let me tell you about Kava (also called Waka, Yaqona, or Grog (my favorite)). Kava is the traditional drink of the country and it can be seen EVERYWHERE. When coming into a new village you must give the village chief Kava and then you would typically sit and drink it with him (and the other villagers). I will do my best to describe it through bullet points:

• It is the root of a tree
• It is pounded into a fine powdered
• It is sieved into a giant basin of water.
(ALL drinking water on my island comes from rain water that is collected from roof runoff. Tasty!) Turning the water into what looks like a mud puddle. And tastes like a . . .well . . . . mud puddle.
• Everyone drinking sits in a circle on the ground (always on mats made of palm fronds)
• One person sits behind the basin and fills a cup (which is half of a coconut shell (called bilo for those taking cultural notes)).
• The cup/bilo is passed to someone in the group. That person claps their hands, says “great hello” to everyone and then drinks everything in the cup. Then the person hands the cup back and claps three times.
• The person behind the basin fills the cup again and passes it to someone new. This is done until everyone has drunk.
• A few minutes later the process starts again.
• The drinking last for hours. Sometimes all night.

So what does it do to you???? Other then perhaps give you some crazy communicable disease from drinking from the same “cup” as everyone else for hours. . .. especially when people are going to the bathroom and coming back without washing their hands. . . .including our friend behind the basin mixing the “drink”. . . . IT CAUSES:

• Your face and tongue to go numb
• It slows your thoughts. Once you are grog-doped you can sit in the same spot for hours without saying or doing anything. It makes you the laziest person in the world. . . except for maybe the dude next to you.
• Lights and shadows start playing tricks. Shadows start looking like they aren’t attached to people and objects. They are just floating and moving in space. They become living things with a mind of their own.
• It makes you dehydrated. So dehydrated that your skin will begin peeling off your body. . . in search of some water.
• When you do sleep it will be deep. When you wake in the morning/IF you wake you will still want to sleep. forever.

Honestly, I don’t really like drinking kava but if you want to understand the culture you need to drink least once.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I'm on a Boat

The Prime Minister came on Monday. To be extra impressive, I wore a Fijian dress and ironed it – twice! You can never look too sharp for your meeting with the head of the country. The PM travelled overnight on his personal Navy boat. His first stop was the hospital (where I work) and then he went to tour some villages around the island.

As soon as he left the hospital, I threw on some shorts and a t-shirt and headed with some of my coworkers to the pier to check out his boat. When we got there we were somehow invited inside the boat! I must have looked fabulous and seemed extra charming (but really I think one of my coworker’s uncles worked on the boat). And once inside we were invited for a breakfast of coffee, cold apples, bread, and meat pies. Now I know you are thinking, “That doesn’t sound too tasty. I can get a better breakfast at IHOP at 4 in the morning that is mixed with my waitress’s cigarette butts.” But in this far away land of no refrigerators, no beef, no apples, no coffee, no milk, no nonsense, and no IHOP, this was a meal fit for the most powerful man in the country. And that is exactly what it was: we were eating the PM’s leftovers! In his kitchen. Drinking from his cups and stirring with his spoons!

After we finished eating we got up to leave. But the secret service guys told us to stay. When secret service tells you to do something; you do it. They said they would turn on a movie! And you would never believe what the PM’s team of manly security guards picked to watch from his personal dvd collection. “Something with guns and naked women!” you shout. NO. “Something about aliens or giant worms taking over the world!” you say. NO. My mind began to falter when I saw it. You will be shocked too. I said to myself, “this cannot be happening. This is not real.” The movie was: Justin Bieber’s Biography. Talk about inspirational! Ha ha.

Then the guards told us we could hold their guns. And they did! Guns in Fiji are like albino squirrels. You hear they exist but you never get to see them. So here I am sitting in the PM’s private boat, eating cold apples, holding guns, and watching Justin Bieber. That is when I realized: I have finally made it in life! Now, if I could just upload a video of me singing about this on YouTube the rest of the world will know about just how far I have come too!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lesson In American Speaking

In Tina Fey’s book, Bossypants, I believe she correctly describes how when (some) Americans like something they act disgusted by it. And the more they like it the more they say how nasty it is. For example she writes that a person who has found an apartment they like might say:

“It was sick. You don’t even know. Marble slabs. The kitchen was all Sub-Zero: I want to kill myself. The building has a playroom that makes you want to break your own jaw with a golf club. I can’t take it.”

SO using those terms – I say:

This island is ridicules! When I first saw the beach I wanted to rip out my eyeballs and smash them into the sand. It is disgusting how blue and green the water is. And the reef! The reef! It makes you want to vomit and then get sucker punched straight in the snot-locker (nose) so you know you aren’t in the middle of a fat-dirty dream. And to make it even worse the people are friendly! I can’t take it!

Sorry. I stole that last line from Tina(but as I mentioned in my last post. . .I’m a copycat. I think she would see it as a sign of flatter. You’re welcome Tina!)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Only in Fiji (and probably a few other places). . ..

1)When getting on the plane the flight attendants announced: “Please remember - you are NOT allowed to lie on the floor during the flight.”

2)When i was still on the main island I went to a sit-down restaurant in the capital city with my Fijian friend. Halfway through our meal a drunken homeless man came in and asked for food. Dani (my friend) said, “sit there” and pointed to a nearby table. Then she split her food and gave him half. I did the same (because I am a copycat). And so did everyone else in the restaurant (I guess they are copycats too). Mr. UnwashedPants ended up with a HUGE meal and two drinks – one of them: beer.

3)My backpacks have started to mold. I don’t get it. They are not made out of bread.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


the Prime Minister is coming!!!!!!!!!

that means it is time to mow all the grass (with a machete and weed-eater), burn all the rubbish (it's European English here), and fix the roads by putting rocks in the potholes.

it will be an extra interesting visit because:

Prime Minister Bainimarama is the leader of country's military government. there are no elections and everything is censored. if you get caught talkin' shit behind his back, or to his face, you could go to jail. *Um, did i mention that I think he is doing an amazing job and has really answered the prayers of the Fijian people?

to make it double fun:

I live on the island where the ousted ex-Prime Minister Qarase lives. I saw him dressed in his Sunday's best at a funeral just last week. And where ex-PM Qarase lives so does his family and friends and clansmen. they believe he did an amazing job and really answered the prayers of the Fijian people. *Um, did I mention that I believe that too?

*i have no political thoughts regarding Fiji. where those thoughts should be is just a giant gaping hole. i have been taught to be impartial to international politics while working for the US gov't in said foreign country or representing a school with the name of a US former president. Maybe one day that hole will fill.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

To Quantify:

Here are the stats since my arrival in Fiji:

geckos living in my house = 1 million
tailless geckos living in my house = 2
nights of all night grog drinking = 4
drops of alcohol = 0
amount of people I have taken blood from = 270 (give or take)
# of days per week I play volleyball = 6
# of days per week I play soccer = 0
hours per day I have access to a beach/ocean = 24
amount of times my "unbreakable" Teva shoes have broken = 2
chargers that work to power my Ipad = 0
cups of tea per day = 3 the hour in which I wake = 6-7am
stores on the island = 3 (and that includes the post office)
people who are willing to sell fruit on Vanuabalavu (my island) = 0
people willing to give you fruit in Vanuabalavu = everyone
seconds it takes to walk from my house to the office = 18 (or less)
seconds it takes to walk from my house to the ocean= 40 (or less)

Work Days

Almost every day of the week, for work, a group of 7 of us travel around the island or to nearby islands (by boat) to do health clinics in the villages. It has been unreal. Not only because this place has to be one of the most beautiful in the world but also because the people I am working with are really funny, friendly, and work and play equally hard.

Yesterday we were driving to the other side of the island (on a single lane sand/mud road) when we hit a road block. There was giant digger-truck in the middle of the road digging a trench (for better water flow) on both sides of the road. . . meaning we couldn’t get past. So instead of hanging their heads my co-workers high-fived and turned the truck around. They went back to a village we already visited. They handed out “plaster” or band aids and then spent a few hours throwing sticks at a fruit tree (the fruit is called is Wee). After they successfully filled about 5 buckets we sat on the beach and ate our collection.

NOTE: I did not eat the Wee. It turns out – I’m allergic. I ate some last week. And now my lips look like Angelina Jolie.

And today we finished a clinic in one village and on the way to the next we stopped on the side of the road and picked two big bags of papaya. Then we went to the beach and ate until we couldn’t eat anymore. Then we trekked through the jungle in search of a hot water spring and collected coconuts on the way out. Then we headed to the second village where we provided health services for about 40 people.

Tomorrow we are going to an island that is about 1 hour away by fiberglass boat. My co-workers say it has an amazing reef. If we finish up early we will snorkel around.

All in a day’s work.

(and just to put in a plug for myself - I usually work on the database in the evenings. . . so I really AM doing what I came out here to do)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Shark Tales

I went spear fishing last weekend. I’m talking legit spear fishing with just a medal rod and a fat rubber band. . . .no gun or anything ritzy like that. I went with a local kid named Thomas. . . .and by kid I mean 24 year old man. As soon as we went down he caught a good size rainbow fish and looped an old electric wire through its gills and out the mouth so that he could pull it through the water instead of having to go back to the shore. It looked like he was pulling the fish along on a leash. All the fish we caught we added to the same line. Pretty soon Thomas was dragging 3 then 5 then 10 fish behind him. We kept swimming further out and diving deeper on the reef.

Then while we were down I saw a shark. It was about 4 feet long. Not big enough to swallow you whole but big enough to take a nice piece; such as both your legs! I began to panic. Thomas’s electric cord of dead fish was basically a shark-chum line and I’m pretty sure a shark has got me beat in both the swimming and fighting department. I got Thomas’s attention to come to the surface. This kid can hold his breath for like 8 minutes. He should be in the Olympics. When we broke the surface I tried to act cool and nonchalant (and mask my mass panic), “hey um, there’s a SHARK. A SHARK. UH, A SHARK!” But Thoma just laughed and said that sharks sense “fear” and will only attack when you are scared. Great! How perfect for me?!!! I asked what I should do. He responded, “Just shoot your spear at it.” So Thomas Man-Child was telling me to shoot my only medal rod at the shark (I should probably mention here that when I am spear fishing, when I aim and fire, I come about as close to my target as Sarah Palin does in identifying where the countries Russia and “Africa” are on a map). Then after shooting I have to go and retrieve the rod in depth of the ocean - unarmed. This didn’t really sound sensible to me BUT what do I know? When we looked down in the water again the shark was circling. Thomas quickly grabbed his spear and shot. The shark swam away. It worked! Of course it did! Fijians are never wrong about fishing, the weather, or the best way to score in rugby.

I saw two more sharks while we were out. And there is no telling how many we didn’t see. But after the first shark I was able to look the other two dead on. I tried to show the sharks I wasn’t scared. Honestly, I was very scared BUT I was confident that they’d attack Thomas and his leash of dead fish before they decided to do a taste-test with me. After all he held the chum, not me.

I think the chances of dying from a shark attack look something like this in comparison to other life happenings (but I have done no research... this is just my guess):

Chocking on ice cream

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Real Deal

Via the request of April Sparkleface Johnson and a few other wishful souls I will give you the rundown on what exactly I am doing in the middle of the ocean with a bunch of people who don’t look or speak like me.

I am working in a hospital in a remote island group (called Lau. . .if you are interested in google mappin’ it). The hospital serves as the sole medical service facility for the 57 islands and 10,000 residents in the area. I am setting up a computerized medical database and doing IT training with the hospital staff. Right now all the patients’ medical records are kept in individual paper folders that are carried around in in different boxes (divided up by village). This is problematic as the paper system has proven to be inefficient as often patients’ medical paperwork is lost, damaged, illegible, confusing, and time-consuming to retrieve. The digital database that will allow for the prevention of lost and damaged data, quicker access to patients’ files, ability to compile comparative data, and the creation of a more streamlined patient information sheet.

Sounds impressive, right? Well it is. Or it will be. Once we work out all the obstacles. . . such as electricity running out of a generator that tends to malfunction and limited access to internet and programs on hospital computers by the Ministry of Health. BUT this should be fixed in the next week or so. The hospital is in its final stages of a renovation. A new, bigger, stronger, generator will be up and running by next week. And letters and calls have been given to the Ministry to change our internet and program settings.

I have already started installing the database on some computers and done simple computer training with some of the staff. But so far, mostly, I have been going out with the hospital staff on village outreaches. It is really hard for most villagers to come into the hospital because of lack of transportation and money so the hospital comes to them. It is good for me to go out on the outreaches because it allows me to build relationships with the hospital staff, I see what the “real” needs are, and I get a chance to see all the islands and meet tons of people along the way.

We have been taking a truck and different boats to villages around the Lau group. When we get there the entire village (over the age of 18) comes to the community hall where we take height, weight, blood sugar level, blood pressure, and then have a nurse who hands out medicine and makes house calls. I have become an expert on taking people’s blood sugar levels. I always thought I was afraid of blood and needles. Turns out - I’m not. I’ve made the entire population of a village bleed (7 times so far)!Then I record the blood sugar levels in their water soaked medical file.

I am also working on a village cleanup campaign that we will run with village chiefs and basic first aid training for the health workers based in each village.

April - Does this post make you happy? Now, I will go back to the side items of my life. I think they tend to be more interesting. BUT upon reader request I can give you work updates too. That is how devoted of an author I am. I am a fan pleaser.

By the way - i sat in a helicopter today that has carried the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ed Norton, and the newest cast of the Bachelor. . .which will be airing at the end of July. (it was filmed mostly in Savusavu - the town I did my Peace Corp stint in). I try to avoid that show but maybe this season I will watch (at least once).

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Safety First.

Upon arriving in Vanuabalavu, I figured I better find a way to protect myself (and not because I think this place is dangerous but merely because I will be living alone (for at least a month anyway)). There are many ways one can go about protecting themselves. For example, my friend Tabitha carries a jagged knife and she is not afraid to take your liver, or heart, or vocal cords, if you try anything sleazy. My husband sometimes sleeps with a “beating stick” when he believes a place is a bit dodgy. Grandma has an alarm system that screams “INTRUDER!!!” and then calls the 501 (that means cops: in case you aren’t up-to-date on your gang terminology). Other popular methods of protection include steel toe boots, guns, or hand-grenades. I know none of these methods are for me. I’m scared to use any kind of weapon and steel toe boots only look good on me when I line-dance or work construction.

So I figured the best thing for me was to befriend a dog who would then police my home and look scary to people who are scary. To do this I gave a can of tuna fish to a dog that tends to roam around the hospital. The locals call him Logan. I call him Sally. The tuna treat worked. Sally fell in love with me immediately. He follows me around and growls when men get too close, especially when it is dark (the locals also say he hates guys and always growls at them. . .but I’d like to think it is because Sally feels he is protecting me).

Anywho, some friends invited me to church last Sunday and I really had nothing pressing to do so I figured it would be a good language lesson. I brought my Fijian-English dictionary and was ready to get my learn on. Sally followed me all the way to the church; which was nice since he is my bodyguard. I sat toward the back. As soon as the preacher started the service, Sally walked into the church and sat next to my chair. I tried to drag him out without making too much of a fuss but he wasn’t budging. He wanted to praise God too – and not from outside. All the Fijians started staring at me and some whispered, “is that your dog?” I avidly shook my head “NO!” and then I tried to make a face like “this dog is crazy! I’ve never seen him before!” Since Sally wasn’t moving and I was making a fool of myself trying to push him out, I gave up. I sat back down and Sally sat ON my feet. Did I mention Sally never bathes, lives outside, and gets by by mostly eating rubbish?

The church has a band and they play loud music and everyone gets up and dances and sings and clap their hands. This church is fun! During the songs Sally jumped up and ran up and down the aisles. As soon as the music stopped he came back and sat on me.

The entire spectacle was a bit embarrassing. So much for blending in and going unnoticed. Also, I am truly amazed at the power of tin tuna. I am going to start giving it to all my guests.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hide your wife. Hide your kids.

Mosquitoes here are like dingos. If you are not careful they will eat your baby.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Mel Gibson and a Double Rainbow!!!

I went to the airport early in the morning. Again, I checked my bags and waited while I watched the rain come down for them to cancel my flight. Sure enough after a nice amount of pacing and buying butter sandwiches the flight was cancelled. BUT then Mel Gibson’s private pilot was in the house! And his plane was on the runway! My community partner sprang into action and snagged me a seat on the plane. So I flew to Mel Gibson’s private island where I was given a tour (It went something like this; “this is a cow.” “this is a house.” “that is a blade of grass.” It was very informative) and then I was given a fabulous dining experience(I say dining experience bc I believe Mel won’t use the word lunch – it is a word for commoners); made of eggplant and rice with an orange for desert. A special thanks must be inserted here to Mel Gibson: Thanks Mel! You’re a doll! Anytime you come to Arkansas come by and I can return the favor (well maybe the lunch/dining experience part).

It should be noted that the runway was also made of grass. Mel’s pilot is just much braver than the commercial folk. As we were landing I thought to myself, “My God this is fun! Wait. Maybe I will die like this (cause the plane was weaving back and forth through the air). The wind is too strong. This is one of the most dangerous things I have done in my life.”

Fast forward to after lunch.

We took a pickup truck down to the pier where we loaded all our gear (I was traveling with two other people from the hospital) on to a small fiberglass boat with an outboard motor. There were not enough seats for all of us, plus the driver, so they pointed to a spot on the ground where I could sit. I said, “Wait. Wait. I have a raincoat.” So I spent a million hours digging through my bag to pull out this badass raincoat I have (JB won it for me in a race in Norway!). Then I carefully laid it on the ground and sat on top of it to prevent my ass from getting wet. About five seconds later, I realized that using the raincoat as a water buffer here was about effective as wearing a raincoat when jumping into a swimming pool.
The waves were massive. They flung the small boat around and washed heavily over the sides covering my lap with water. The boat road high on the waves and would quickly fall back down the other side. I started laughing and laughing. This was great! But amid my fit of chuckles I realized no one else was laughing or even smiling. They looked scared. You know you are F-ed when Fijians are on the water looking scared. . . this is their second home. I realized I was like that A-hole they put into movies that is smiling all the way to their bloody death. I stopped laughing and I thought, “My God this is fun! Wait. Maybe I will die like this. The waves are too strong. This is one of the most dangerous things I have done in my life.”

The ride lasted about an hour. The salt water attacked my eyes and it hurt. It felt like I was pouring lemon juice into them (which, in case you are wondering, I have done on more than one occasion).

Rain could be seen falling in the distance. As we approached Vanuabalavu a rainbow formed on the horizon. It lay across the water. I have never seen anything like it. Soon it arched up and filled the sky. And then another rainbow formed underneath it. Then I said, “WOAH! THAT’S A FULL RAINBOW ALL THE WAY! DOUBLE RAINBOW!!! DOUBLE RAINBOW!!!!! IT’S AMAZING!!!! I told the people with me that this is a sign of good luck and great things to come. They said that they had never heard that before, but it seemed very likely. I too have never heard this before, but it seems likely enough, so I think I will continue saying it.

When we got to the island we took a truck to the hospital. The road is a single lane made of sand. It is beautiful here. Words cannot begin to describe it - well actually, some words can – this place has blue and green water and tall palm trees that overlook distant islands. And the sky is filled with rainbows and unicorns.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Delay a Day

 I went to the airport this morning for my 6:30am flight to Lau. After sitting in the airport for several hours the flight was cancelled. It had started to rain. Grass runways and rain don't work well together. Separate they are great but together they are a lethal combo. . . . like brushing your teeth and drinking orange juice.

I am stuck in Suva for one more night (cross your fingers the weather turns for the better tomorrow). Thus, I have fast Internet and you, dear reader, have access to my "National Geographic"-esct photos.
A broom. Do you like my camo pants? I bet couldn't even see my legs! and no my shirt is not tucked in. It is just trying to look like it is.
The clams we collected. Really, the boy in the white t-shirt collected them. He is a pro. I did find a few with my skillful perseverance.
Bui sitting on the bridge we jumped off.
Also I don't know how my classmates can format their pictures around their text. I can't figure it out. . . it is a good thing i am helping with computers!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Witchcraft Protection and River Clams

I am heading to Lau tomorrow. This morning, to help me prepare Dani and the kids gave me a special plant to eat in order to ward off evil spells. They folded the leaves in a particular way and had me chew them up, suck out the juice and then swallow the remaining bits. Now if people hate me and try to witchcraft it won't work. It is like garlic to a vampire. I am safe. To be extra safe, Dani is giving more to take as soon as I get to Lau. I hope it last at least 2 months. You never know what kind of crazy powers people have and you can never be too safe.

Also, the other day we went swimming in the river. Over the river is a bridge that we jumped off. After a good amount of jumping, diving, sychronized jumping, and catching things in the air, we played tag. Then we started playing "Who Can Touch the Bottom." The bottom turned out to be a gold-mine of clams. We collected tons of clams to boil and eat. Consider me a hunter. I can collect and scavenge for my own food.

I tried to post pictures but again the internet speed isn't fast enough. I think it is only going to get slower from here. . . as I am moving more and more remote. here is the best pic I can give of what I look like:    :)       I hope you like it. My tan really is getting good! Did you notice???

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bui's Super Sweet Sixteen

I am currently staying with my good friend Meredani and her family. Meredani and I use to teach together at St. Bedes. She is brilliant, and so am I, so it is no wonder we made such a great duo! Her daughter, Bui, turned sixteen this year (in feb) and we/Meredani decided to celebrate with a huge feast. Some neighbors and friends joined us. We had 3 kinds of meats and tons of fruits and veggies with cake for desert. The night was capped off with grog drinking until 3 in the morning. (Bui did not drink grog. She is too young.)

I was able to display pictures. Thank you internet cafe and your high speed service!

Making brooms.

Waiting on the palm fronds to make brooms.

Bui's super sweet 16! Bui is in the middle with the brown shirt.   

And then I caught on FIRE!

I just wanted to clear the air. . . I was feeling guilty. I know that the title of my last post was incorrect. I never talked about life lessons. I figured you would be more apt to read the entire post if you thought you would hear something really deep. Sorry. Also, I never caught on fire.

On a more serious note:
I helped make six brooms out of palm fronds. (i tried to load some photos but the internet connection isn't fast enough to upload. sorry.) Then we sold the brooms around the neighborhood for 5 bones each. By bones i mean dollars and not the fundamental structure holding your body up. Who knew I was so crafty and such an entrepreneur?!?? My mother did. She always said I would do marvelous things with my life. Thanks mom!

Also, I have been playing lots of cards lately. I have gotten really good at a game called Laka. If this card game could be done professionally then I would be on the world tour!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mini Bus Lessons are Life Lessons

Dearest Reader,

do the wee fishes in the background make you feel like you are swimming in a tropical paradise? they should! these are real fijian fish. this picture was taken by one of my friends when I was living in fiji sometime between 2004-2006. (i know i didn't take this picture because my underwater camera is just a digital camera wrapped in a few zip-lock bags. . . and this pic far exceeds the quality I could produce with sir Zip and Lock).

So let us get to the beef of things:
I arrived in Fiji last week. I was suppose to go to the Lau Island Group last week but I remain floundering about the main island. There is only one plane per week. It takes 8 passengers and lands on a grass runway; right next to the ocean (talk about excitement!). anywho, i was bumped from the flight as school has just started and they need all the teachers to get back to fill the classrooms and mold the minds of the youth. without school and good teachers; children are aimless. . .and go crazy. I say, "go teachers go!" (or in Fijian "lako qasenivuli lako!")

yesterday i took a mini bus (which is just a 15 passenger van) to Suva (the capital city) to see what I could do about getting out to the island as quickly as possible. the drive takes about 3 hours depending on the sanity of your van driver. most mini bus drivers are like base-jumpers, fire eaters, or the girls who let people throw knifes at them - they are bat-shit crazy and not afraid to die. they press the gas pedal to the floor as they pass semi trucks on single lane blind curves-with only rock bluffs for the road's shoulder. I usually enjoy these rides because they make you realize how much you love your life. 

But i made a terrible mistake. I should have know better; shame, shame, shame on me. When i went to the mini bus stand, I willing jumped into a mini bus that was blaring gospel music. As a person who is content to roam the world with no religion this was going to be a rough 3 hours. I didn't realize it at first. I thought it was bearable. But as soon as the door closed the music seemed louder, the seats seemed more crowded, and it was definitely hotter. It is soo hot here (in Fiji), I can feel the water I drink boil in my stomach (if i could swallow a raw egg whole, within a min it would be hard boiled). On top of the music, heat, and a dude basically sitting on my lap, the driver obviously was a God-fearing man. He was different than the other mini bus drivers. He drove with caution. He drove slow. He didn't take 3 hours to get to Suva. He took 4+. ahhh, lesson learned.

Reader - those are all the little nuggets of knowledge I can leave you with today. it has started to rain. I must run before the heat comes back. Enjoy. And come back soon.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Alright kids. This is a test run. Bloggin' here I come. Hold your pants.