Posted by: Alicia Phillips | December 14, 2011

Fiji Winters make me CRANKY!

Bula! So most of my posts so far have been pretty positive, I’ve been trying to do the whole “find the good in everything, Fiji is awesome, just keep smiling” crap.  Fair warning, this isn’t going to be one of those posts.

First of all, it’s HOT in Fiji right now. We are currently in the hot, wet season. It is comparable to Mid-July/August in the south, around 90 degree heat with 90% humidity. The only difference is that in the south heat like this only lasts around a month, whereas here it will last until March. And I can’t just hop in a car and turn on the air-conditioning or go home and sit in the cool here; there is no air conditioning. And it also doesn’t help anything that I live in a part of Fiji called “The Burning West”…

It wasn’t so bad at first, it was bearable. Then a few weeks went by and it just got hotter, and hotter. Then the locals started complaining about the heat, and when the locals complain you know it’s bad. It starts to get harder and harder to fall asleep. I wake up sweating, and then I walk about a mile and a half to and from work every day. By the time I walk in to work I look like I just finished an Insanity workout, my shirt is soaked through, my hair is wet and I am literally dripping. It’s gross. Then my co-workers proceed to make fun of me, to my face, and ask what’s wrong with me. Not a fun way to start the day. It’s hard to get motivated to get anything accomplished.

Being hot like that, all of the time, without having an escape from it really kind of takes a toll on you and intensifies any emotion you’re feeling. Mainly anger… By the time I leave work I am gross, and have an unquenchable thirst, and I’m short tempered. Which makes being friendly and understanding of the locals hard. Sometimes I just get sick of being stared at all of the time, and honked at, and sexually harassed by dirty old taxi drivers. I don’t feel like answering everyone’s questions about why I am here and what I’m doing or if I’m married, I  just want to go home and sweat and be by myself. Before I go home though I have to go to the market and get some food and by the time I get there I am angry at the world; the loud stupid music everyone listens to, the clothes people wear, the strangers that beg me for money because they assume I am a rich European, the rude ladies in line at the market, not understanding what anyone says to me, getting made fun of in another language, the fact that my town runs out of dairy products all the time, the market vendors that overcharge me, the loud buses, and all the pathetic stray dogs that are everywhere and bark all the time! Then it starts to rain, and by rain I mean torrential downpour. The skies open up and drop everything it has on me, making it difficult to get to the bus stand with all of my stuff and head home. By the end of the day, I just want to go home, not home here in Fiji but home to America where everything is easier and makes sense to me.

At this point, you may think I sound pretty pathetic. And I would have to agree with you. It is hard for me to remember sometimes that I didn’t sign up for the Peace Corps because it was going to be easy. And there are people who have it so much worse than I do. There are worse things than being constantly sweaty in a beautiful country like Fiji. It’s hard for me to remember that this is just a temporary thing; I only have 20 months left. Then something will happen that makes me forget why I was so cranky in the first place.



  1. Hang in there Alicia. 7 months in and I suspect many of the Peace Corp Volunteers feel like this. Do try to enjoy Christmas and New Years. Hope to meet you next June when we go to visit Dan.

  2. Hope your post accomplished a way to let off some steam. Oh dear, pun not intended, but.. I wondered how long before the euphoria and positive attitude would start back the other way and you’d be on the down-side. Fortunately that’s natures way of keeping us in line. Now that you’ve ‘exploded’ and vented your frustrations, you can kinda live with the discomforts you didn’t experience there and get back some of your positive attitude again. Life is ups and downs.. You were on a huge “UP” and just hit the ‘DOWN” side. With your positive nature the down won’t be as difficult as others who will refuse to accept the up/down nature of new environments. Hang in, try to think positive, and adjust to this change. Maybe raid your hair (if you can), wear a band around your head to catch the sweat, wear wide brimmed grass hats, loose clothing..Just ideas that might help. You’ll come thru this wilh flying colors and be all the better for it. Keep smiling.. (fake em out)… Hope your New Year will start the ‘UP’ again. LOL HUGS…

  3. Hey Alicia, I totally understand where you’re coming from. I hate the burning west for that very reason. And I could see how what I call – “The tourist syndrome,” start to kick in. I think your best solution is to be a local coz you’re already a local.

    1. Let the crooks in the market place know that their trying to crook you. Bring out your bargaining power, and I am absolutely positively sure they will give in to you. Acting like you know where to buy things for cheaper at another store always works.

    2. Act smarter… Use the fact that you are a foreigner, means you know more than he/she does. A play with words will always gain you an upperhand in most situations.

    3. Appeal to sympathy… Fijians have a natural tendency to have concern for others, unless they act like they know what they are doing. I know it sounds like it contradicts my previous two points but sometimes when you need help, you have to show that you could use some help.

    4. Go to Suva every once in a while or hit the beach with friends. The beach is a good place to find peace and just reflect on the situation you’re in.

    5. Let me know if you need any kind of help!

    Stay strong and remain positive!

    • Thanks Ben! You’re the best! I was having a bad day when i posted this. Most every other day of the week, the good outweighs the bad here. When will you be back in Suva! I want to come visit!

      • Was supposed to come home for Christmas but decided to get a job and make some money here instead. However, when I get back I’ll take you to the North (Hidden Paradise) its pretty sweet there. My family goes there for holidays coz both my mum and Dad are from there. That’s the side of Fiji that the world pays to see. The Burning West sucks and that’s coming from a Fijian, so don’t think you’re the only one that hates it there. By the way, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you. I read your latest post about Christmas and I should have warned you about that. The festive season has become more of a season for drinking rather than gift-giving. Its the time of the year when all the bars make the money. Its also more of a time for family..

        I feel for you though. I am spending Christmas without family so we are pretty much on opposite ends of the spectrum. I have been able to adapt to the life in America so I especially enjoy American Christmas’. Hope the homesickness goes away, may just take a little time but you’ll make it through. Keep rambling though, letting loose on a blog is always good for thought. Helps people like me better understand the median between cultural differences better!

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