Posted by: Alicia Phillips | July 17, 2011

Electricity AND Hot Water?! What did I do Right??

Hey guys! Time for an update!

So, when I first got accepted to Peace Corps/Fiji I was fully expecting to be placed in a small Fijian village, living in a traditional bure (straw hut), with no electricity or running water, cooking local foods, and fighting off spiders and cockroaches on a daily basis.  

Now I see why the Peace Corps tells you to come in to it with NO EXPECTATIONS…

Instead of all that, I have been placed in a city about the size of Jonesboro, working at a nursing home for the Ministry of Health, and I am living in a small studio flat that has many western conveniences, such as a refrigerator and piped lukewarm water (sometimes).  My town is right on the ocean, but there aren’t a lot of beaches nearby.

The road I walk to go in to town

I’m not going to lie, at first I was a little upset that I wasn’t going to experience that part of the Fijian culture and the quintessential Peace Corps experience. However, city life is growing on me and living in a city comes with a whole new slew of obstacles to overcome.  Let me just tell you, public transport is the bane of my existence right now. Good news though, there are 3 other FRE-08 volunteers from last year living in my city and they are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! They have shown me all around town, and the best places to eat and shop, and they are so smart and so much fun, It would be very difficult to be here without them. Also, I am placed pretty close to my FRE-09 friends, and they are all placed in Fijian villages, so we will be visiting each other all the time! So when they need a break from village life they will come stay with me, and when I need a break from city life I will go stay with them! I get the best of both worlds! And there are some pretty sweet backpackers resorts that are right on the beach pretty close by that volunteers always meet up at, looking forward to that!

So let me tell you a little bit about my apartment. For those of you who ever saw my apartment back home, my new flat is half the size of that……I kid you not. HA! I am practically living in a dorm room. However, I am completely in love with it! It is PERFECT for me and I’ve already made it my home. I have a great wrap around balcony where I can see the sunset over the ocean every evening. I have my own wash basin to do my laundry in and I have a very nice Fijian family living underneath me who always invite me over for tea and dinner. Score!!  Also, there are 2 sweet puppies who live here and they remind me of Uli, makes me smile. 🙂

My flat

Laundry room

Hanging laundry to dry in the sun

I have an orange tree, banana tree, coconut tree, and breadfruit all on my compound, all mine whenever I want a piece of fruit. Also, the sweet Fijian man living underneath me, rattuu, dug me a plot of earth so I can have a garden. 🙂 I will be planting tomatoes, cucumber, French beans, pumpkin, and okra. I am definitely my mother’s daughter, ha!

My empty garden, just wait, soon it will be flourishing!

Yes, that is a topsy-turvy tomato planter that I Fiji-fied.

Rattuu, cleaning the compound

My flat is also a fortress, I have two different overlapping hurricane bars, screen, and locks on all of my windows and 3 deadbolts to get through to open my door. No one is getting in here but me, I am very safe so no worries family.

Another perk that I wasn’t expecting is that there is a Methodist church right next door to me. While I don’t plan on attending it, it is so nice to sit on my balcony and listen to the songs I grew up hearing in church sung so beautifully in the Fijian language.

Methodist Church

It is pretty cold here, yes I’m serious, I’m wearing a sweatshirt right now. It is winter time in Fiji at the moment and it actually gets cold, especially at night. I understand it’s pretty hot in the US these days, sorry guys. In a couple of months I will feel your pain. I was talking to a volunteer the other day and he said during the hot months here he was constantly angry at the world and had a thirst he couldn’t quench….so, there is a blog post for you all to look forward to.

I don’t feel I should go in to detail about my job just yet; I have only been there a week and am still getting adjusted. However I can tell you that I will be FLUENT in Hindi in 2 years! Ha! I really think this job will be a good thing for me, I hope I can make a difference there.  More details to come later on.

I finally have my address! Check the side column… will also see a wish list of items I could use from America……just saying….

Well that’s all I got for ya, please please please comment or write me a message telling me what is up with you! What’s going on in the world? How are your families? Your children? School? Who’s married now? Engaged? Having babies? Getting jobs? Moving? Come on guys! Fill me in!

Until next time, Fir milegga, sota tale!


  1. Gosh Alicia, sounds like you are coming up ‘smelling like a rose” as the saying goes. I’m glad for you that you are adjusting so quickly to a different way of life. That you were prepared for so much less makes it easier to aclimate yourself to actuality. Be flexible and ‘be yourself’ and you’ll do wonders for yourself and those around you. LOVE YOUR BLOG. I read it whenever you update it. AWESOME. As for us. here in Mid Georgia, it’s been in the 100s for about 4 weeks or more. but the past three days only in the 80s during the day. Of course, I think 84 or so is perfectly fine. I’d much rather be warm (hot) than cold. I imagine your Mom or Grandma wrote you that JD & Danielle have a baby boy, Jaxen Lewis Knight can’t remember the weight details but hale & healthy at 7 weeks. A real cutie. And OUR son, Danny & Alyssa (who live in San Francisco) have a little girl, Tovah Marie Knight, who just turned 1 on June 20th. some Fathers’ Day gift (Jun 19) and Dan’s 42 birthday was June 21. Busy month, specially when you add my birthday the 2nd and Lou’s the 14 and Flag Day the 14.. back to Fathers’ day the 19th.. wheeeeee. I’ve been painting pet rock pretty steadily. People email me photos of their pets and I paint them on a rock. Very versatile, since they can be placed anyplace. and recently I’ve been painting pets portraits (from a photo of course) on the front of T-shirts. Getting pretty popular. AMEN!! 🙂 Not much else happening except for the weekly Tuesday Farmers Market from 4-7 that I am a vendor at. Am also on the Committee to support the farmers market. so at least we are kinda settling in and being active members of our new city. Got to go paint a Welch Corgie, so bye for now. OHHHH speaking of painting… If you take any photo of the scenery or sunset, etc that you’d like to have painted on canvas, just send me the picture and if I think I can do it, I WILL. Would be my first international painting. LOL
    I cannot paint people!! Try tho I do I cannot and it is so upsetting. But I at least know my limits! LOL Pets and scenery etc.. fine So just an ideal to mull over in your mind.. Take care
    BIG HUGS.. Aunt LouAnn n Uncle Herbert.

  2. Sounds GREAT!!! to see the sunset on the ocean every day. Your apartment looks really nice (considering). You will be wonderful with your job. Things have been busy at the Hytrol. Billie was on vacation the week of the 4th and then I took off last week. Took my little grandson to the beach. He loved it. Spent 6 hours in the water the first day. Had a good time long ride, but he did really good. Love your post. Keep in touch. Barb Gray

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