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.