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.