Posted by: Alicia Phillips | June 13, 2011

10 things to know about Fiji

1. No matter how hot it is, no matter if your shirt is soaking wet and your brow is beading with sweat, you will still be expected to take steaming hot coffee or tea at breakfast, brunch, lunch, snack, and dinner. Oddly enough, I have actually been drinking coffee here, I never drank it in the states. I have been converted. Friends and family, if you feel the need to send me a care package at any time please include some Starbucks instant coffee. I will be much obliged. Dhanbaad. Vinaka.

2. Geckos have just as much right to your walls, ceilings, floors, food, and property as you do. Just accept that they are everywhere all the time and make peace with it. If anyone comes to visit me, do not be surprised when one falls from the ceiling and on to your food. It happens regularly.

 3. Fijians don’t shake their head when they say “yes”. They do the eyebrow raise. I was in market the other morning and I asked a question and all I got was an eyebrow raise. I assumed they didn’t understand me so I kept repeating my question and I kept getting the eyebrow raise. Ha! So, FYI, eyebrow raise = yes.

 4. Whoever said roosters only crow in the mornings was largely mistaken. Because there is one that hangs out by my window that likes to crow all night long, and sleep all day. Oh how I wish I had brought a slingshot.

5. It is a difficult task to eat meat here. There are no butchers, so there are no good cuts of meat. They just use a band saw and cut the meat in to sections. Meat is sold with pieces of bones all in it. Then it is cooked with the bones, then it is served with bones, and eaten with bones that you later have to spit out. I had fish curry tonight and it took me twice as long to eat because I had to pick out pieces of razor sharp bones. So, I have decided, more out of necessity than choice, that I am going to be a vegetarian during my time here in Fiji. But, you better believe when I come back to America I am going to hit up a steakhouse first thing.

 6. It is technically winter time here. It is in the 80s and still humid as hell, I sweat like a fat kid all day every day. I went to town today and I saw a man wearing sweat pants and a fleece jacket. True story. Silas, another trainee in my village, told me that he was washing the cloth band on his watch and when he went to put it back on his host mom told him to wait and let it dry so his hand wouldn’t get cold!!! Lord, help me once summer gets here. Summer hits here in November, December, and January.

 7. There are a lot of stray, starving, pathetic looking dogs here. They are everywhere, running in packs. But hardly anyone here actually has a dog for a pet. These dogs can be very dangerous. A trainee in another village down the road from me got bite by a stray dog. I am a dog lover, and to see these dogs so skittish and skinny and mangy is really kinda sad, but what can I do?

8. You eat with your hands here. It is fun! You either eat curry with rice and you scoop it in to your mouth with your fingers, or you pick it up with as piece of roti (homemade tortilla type thing). I am a big fan of this practice and will probably adopt this habit for good, much to the dismay of my mother, I’m sure. I feel like my fingers are permanently stained yellow from the curry.

9. There are two common types of houses here. A traditional Fijian bure, which is the thatched roof and straw hut type of structure, and then there are the corrugated metal houses. The metal houses get so hot in the afternoon sun. It has metal walls and a metal roof, so it is really like an oven that cooks you all day long. Not cool.

10. Rugby and soccer is a big deal. Fiji has one of the best Rugby teams in the world. Fiji 7’s….google it.

 So far these are the things that stick out in my mind. Fiji is such an amazing beautiful friendly place. I cannot wait until my actual service starts and I can experience it fully. Until next time, Fir milegga!


  1. Love your blog. I knew nothing about Fiji so it is very informative! I remember you saying over 2 years ago that joining the Peace Corp was your dream. Glad your living it out! Please keep us updated.

  2. I have to admit, whatever you are eating in that picture is making me hungry. It looks really good. You have to teach me how to make that curry when you get home. I cannot believe you guys are drinking hot beverages in that hot, humid weather. But I will most certainly send you some good Starbucks. I just started getting together a package for you. I hope it reaches you before they move you to your new locale. Love reading your posts. Take care!

  3. I read your words with laughter and can only imagine what is really going on within your head, You will have an interesting 2 years and bring back many memories that will serve you well during your hopefully long life. Bo

  4. hahaha… I’d have to say I am pretty much a red neck Fijian now but its always good to read things from a different perspective. Everything sounds so normal but I am glad you are amused. I hope you and my sisters have got something setup.

  5. I love reading your posts, darlin!!!!! They are amazing! Fiji sounds like an interesting place. In my next care pkge I will send you some Starbucks, lol. I hope you get assigned a nice place for your permanant site and a safe one! I love and miss you darlin!!!!

  6. Oh boy, I still envy you being there. Hot or not. it’s 95 here.. I can imagine being a vegan for the next few weeks will change your shirt size !! LOL. Sounds like a winner to me. Just a bite of two of meat or fish does me fine, anyway. Love veggies. The dish your eating from looks yummy. Sounds like you’re adapting pretty quickly!! Hang in and thanks for keeping us all up to date.
    Love n hugs

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