50 Things…

50 Things I will miss most about Fiji. In no particular order!

 

#50: Bonfires on the beach. There is nothing quite like sitting beside a bonfire on the beach, Fiji bitter in hand, surrounded by friends, the warm South Pacific ocean feet away, and a sky full of shooting stars overhead. I am sure I will sit around many bonfires in the future, but they just won’t compare.
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#49  The Beachouse! A cheap beautiful little backpackers place right on the beautiful coral coast. Close enough for a weekend getaway. The best thing about Beachouse is people from all over the worlds come to stay here. Any given weekend you will be sharing a dorm with 8 people from 5 different countries, speaking 4 different languages! Such a fun way to meet people. Plus, the food is amazing, beer is cheap, waves are good for surfing, kayaking and snorkeling is available, paddle boarding, ping pong, coconut weaving, river trips, or just lounging by the pool! It’s a great place to kick it and I am SO going to miss my weekend here.

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#48 Snorkeling!! Some of the most beautiful reefs in the world are here! Before coming to Fiji I had never been snorkeling before, I think I may be ruined for life now! It’s like a whole other world under the water, so much life! Gorgeous!

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#47 Kickin it with the President of Fiji! Randomly running in to him at festivals, on the sidewalk, or market. Once I was buying carrots at the market, just minding my own business, and when I look up there’s the president standing beside me, just checking out some carrots. Ha! I can’t imagine that ever happening in the states…..just randomly running into Obama. Haha!

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#46 The ROC market! A fun little street market that is in Suva every 3rd Sunday of the month. Vendors sell things from handmade soaps and oils, pottery, plants, jewelry, books, clothes, Fiji black pearls, baked bread, baskets, Indian savories, homemade fudge and cookies, and even sushi! It’s a great place to blow money or just walk around and see the stalls. Sometimes there is live music, the food is always delicious and all kinds of people come out of the woodworks to see whats up. Lots of fun!

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#45 My training village group in Lakena Hill #1. Out of our group of 26, the 4 of us were chosen to live in an indian settlement, learn Hindustani, and work in urban centers. During our pre-service training we had our fill of roti and curry, temple, broken fiji-hindi language training and traditional clothes. These guys helped me get through training and have always been there for me during the past 2 years! Silas, Folami and Tim! Ham Log Lakena #1!! =)17223_10102375479357157_327437787_n

#44  Sulu Jabas. The traditional garb of the women here in Fiji. Beautiful “bula print” in every color and pattern, made into a long skirt and a top. This is what you wear when you get dressed up. Church, weddings, funerals, business meetings, workshops, and every Friday at work! Going to miss wearing these!!

#43 Fresh Fish!  Eating fresh tuna/salmon/wahoo/amd the occasional octopus has been such a treat! Here we have fresh yellowfin tuna with a papaya salsa, steamed veggies and rice, a very common meal for me.

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#42 Passionfruit!  A delicious fruit that i never ate before I came to Fiji! They grow wild here and in abundance. They are sweet, tart, crunchy, and juicy! Eat them with a spoon, with your fingers, or take it like a shot! Put it in a smoothie, in your oatmeal, top yogurt with it, or just eat it plain. So delicious!

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#41 Hunky dogs! Super delicious hot dog vendor that sets up shop across from the bars on weekend nights. Best hot dog I have ever had! Lamb dog, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, relish, cheese, bbq sauce, and sweet chili sauce. All for $3.50!

487805_10100463789414158_924693015_n  #40 Brigid!  I’ve met some pretty amazing Aussies here in Fiji! Brigid and I work in the same office and became really good friends. I am going to miss our daily coffee breaks and our happy hour drinks. I am even going to visit her and her family in Melbourne when I leave Fiji! She has been such a big part of my life here in Suva and I am so happy to have met her.

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#39 Cost-U-Less. A costco-like store here in Suva that imports American goods. Everything is incredibly expensive and I rarely buy anything from here (except $20 Peanut Butter). Sometimes I will go and walk around in here, just to see familiar brand names (Kraft, M&M, Crest, Suave) and be reminded of home.

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#38 The Southern Cross

In the northern hemisphere we have the north star. Down here, we have the southern cross. So easily recognizable in the night sky. Sailors used to use it to navigate their boats. I am going to miss looking up and seeing this.

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#37  Wearing a flower behind my ear. Completely normal everyday wear. No big deal. Gorgeous Hibiscus or Frangipani flowers grow all over the place. So easy to go pick one, put it behind your ear and wear it the rest of the day.

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#36 Indian Sweets! Oh man…..Indian sweets. Oh man……so good, yet so bad for you.

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#35 Yon Tongs. Pretty much the only place in Fiji to buy dried beans and brown rice. Huge staples in my diet. And a ton of delicious Asian fare that you can’t find anywhere else.

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#34 My running route. Right on the sea wall, I can always watch the sunset over Suva bay. So gorgeous.

IMG_0858#33 Fiji Zumba with Liti and Toso Dance Fitness with Philo. Two amazing ladies who teach aerobics and dance classes in Suva. They make the classes SO fun and are really making a difference in so many peoples lives who want to get healthy. I worked with these ladies a lot during my work and am always amazed by their passion and positivity. REALLY going to miss these ladies!!

P1020066#32 Rugby. EVERYONE plays rugby around here. And if you don’t play it, you watch it. I, for one, never get tired of watching beautiful brown men with their muscles and short shorts throwing the ball around.

DSCN1686 - Copy#31 The market! Fresh fruits and veggies all the time. You can get your vegetables, fruiits, honey, coconut oil, grog, spices and tofu all in one place.

DSCN1644 - Copy#30 The movie theater. My guilty pleasure. Nothing makes me happier than skipping out on work and going and watching a movie in the middle of the day. This theater shows 3 English movies and 3 Bollywood movies. Most of the time the movies are a few months behind the US schedule, but sometimes we get new releases.

DSCN1637 - Copy#29 Sunsets. God….the sunsets here….

DSCF4550 - Copy#28 John and Judy. I have blogged about this couple a few times. Old PCV’s who moved to Fiji and take good care of Peace Corps Volunteers here. John always take people out on his boat to a nearby island (See #27) and Judy always cooks the most delicious food. Amazing beautiful people. Here is John and I playing chess, and Judy and I cooking in the kitchen this past Christmas.

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#27 Nananu-i-ra Island. Paradise, particularly Ono beach. A isolated hidden tucked away beach that has some of the most AMAZING snorkeling right off the beach. This beach has pretty much ruined every other beach for me….no where else will ever compare.

P1010896#26 Listening to the guys in my group jam. Some pretty great musicians.

DSC00563#25 My Group! Group 88. Oh man, what can I say about these people other than they are some of the most amazing people I could have ever hoped to serve with. Peace Corps volunteers are all a little weird, but they are the best kind of weird.  Life long friends.

156577_10151571928436900_926277927_n#24 Liz! My counterpart at work. My service would have been drastically different if Liz were not a part of it. The best thing that can happen to a Peace Corps volunteer is getting assigned a good counterpart, and I won the jack pot. She helped me figure out how things work in Fiji, she understands where I come from and how I see things, and handles things that would frustrate the hell out of me with grace and humor. She trusted me to take over some serious projects and always made me feel involved. One of the smartest women I know, but also the kindest and funniest. She is an inspiration to me in both her professional and personal life.

alicia 002 #23 My co-workers at the Ministry of Health. These are the guys whose main job is to keep the population healthy. Smoking cessation, alchol control, nutritionist, physcial activity, dental, eye health, media, and all the support staff. Amazing group of people.

428296_10151392031865365_1277406888_n#22 Value City. A second hand clothing store where I buy everything I own. DSCN1671#21 Sweet puppies. My neighbors dogs. Fills the void in my heart that got there when I gave my puppy away before coming to Fiji. These dogs are so sweet and fun to play with. Most dogs in Fiji are poor pathetic half starved beaten down creatures, treated so badly by the people here. It’s been so nice to have some nice well treated dogs around. They even know commands in english!

182391_961336292904_633428128_n#20 Coconut. Coconut is a huge part of the diet here. Everything is vaka lolo (with coconut milk). It’s in all the traditional Fijian dishes, then there is the bu with the water inside, you can eat the meat inside, scrape it and mix it to make the milk. You smoke the coconut to make copra (exported to companies to make oil and soaps). Virgin coconut oil is HUGE here. You can use the coconut leaves to make all kinds of useful items: bags, fans, hats, houses, mats, etc. The trunks are used to make houses and boats. Seriously, there is a use for every piece of the coconut tree. I will miss drinking the water after a long hike in the bush, eating the meat, and eating anything vaka lolo!

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#19 Washing my clothes by hand. That sounds silly doesnt it? Why would I miss that? Washing machines and driers are so convenient! However, I have come to enjoy washing my clothes in a bucket, then hanging them out on the line to dry on a beautiful sunny windy day. There is something so satisfying about it. But, there is a downside……most of my clothes never really get clean, they are all so stretched out, if they don’t dry fast enough they get mildew on them, sometimes it takes day for things to dry, and everything kind of smells bad.

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#18 Masi print. A beautiful tribal print that is hand painted onto sandlewood bark. I think it is the most beautiful thing, so much so that I got it tattoo of it. Sorry mom.

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#17 Ashiyana Indian Restaurant. Ahh…..the best Indian food in Fiji that is reasonably priced! I’ll have the Dhal makani, Bhindi curry, Channa masala, and the Kadai paneer please……with 3 orders of garlic nann. That’ll be all for now.

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#16 The lali’s. A fijian drum made out of hollowed out tree trunk used as a form of communication. Announcing the time sometimes, church services, cultural ceremonies and other things. They are beautiful, and the sounds they make are just as beautiful.

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#15 Suva City. Even though it rains alot, and it doesnt have any beaches nearby, and is expensive as hell, I sure do love this city. It is the biggest city in the South Pacific, and the biggest city I have ever lived in. It is the main hib for all activity, all the government offices are here, the NGO’s and non-profit operate out of Suva, there are stores and mall and bars and people….lots and lots of people. All kinds of people, Fijians, Indians, Aussies, Kiwis, Americans, Brits, Japaneses, Chinese, people from all over the Pacific. It’s been such a great place to live.

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#14 All the green foliage! This country is so green. Everywhere are plants and trees and vines and flowers and bushes. I feel like I like in a jungle sometimes, because my house is completely surrounded by green. It is always warm and sunny, and it rains a lot, it is the tropics after all. Things grow so easily here. And the flowers! The flowers here are amazing….they look like they belong on another planet.

Flowers at the market

Flowers at the market

#13 Fiji Beer. Yeah….it’s awful compared to other beers, but I still drink it, and I like it. Bitter is better I think….most people went for the gold though.

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#12 The Seawall. A walkway along the sea in Suva. Where I go for my runs and where I go to watch the sunset some nights. When I need to get out of the house and clear my head, or work through a problem- the sea wall is where I go.

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#11 Open Air Buses. I wrote an entire blog post about how much I enjoy riding the buses here. The open air buses are the best. Great for spacing out, people watching, or just seeing the city or country side. They are old, and loud, and rickety, sometimes they catch on fire, sometimes they break down or a tire blows, the music is always too loud and there is no capacity limit…just keep pilling the people in there. I love it.

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#10 Grog. Being in the city I did not drink as much of it as most volunteers….which is why I don’t think it’s god awful and they do. It’s not so much the taste that I like, it literally taste like muddy water that makes your tongue numb, it’s the social and community aspect I like. It’s the backbone of the entire social structure in a village.

Grog

Grog

#9 Walking everywhere. If you would have asked me 16 months ago if I liked walking everywhere I would have said no. But now, I really enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong, I love my car and can’t wait to drive again, but there is also something satisfying about needing to go somewhere, and then walking out your door and going there by foot. Ive worn down 3 pairs of shoes in the last year…..I walk alot. The drive to my office takes 5 minutes….the walk takes 25….I prefer to walk.

#8 Men in pocket sulus. I think it is so attractive to see a man in his pocket sulu and bula shirt. The pocket sulu is Fiji’s version of the dress pant.

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#7 My house. I love this house. It’s so big and roomy. Can sleep up to 15 Peace Corps Volunteers. We have had so many parties, family dinners, going away parties, last night in Fiji parties, and overall great times here.

Sitting Room and Guest Bed

#6 Peace Corps Staff. The staff at Peace Corps office are amazing. It seems like they are constantly putting out fires. There is a mix of Americans and locals who work for Peace Corps. They do everything they can do support us at site and to keep us healthy and happy and productive.

My program manager, Mita, and I

My program manager, Mita, and I

#5 Peace Corps Medical Closet. Man I am sure going to miss free health care! Free medicine, free dental, free Gatorade, free birth control. free everything. It’s so easy when everything is taken care of for you! Our sweet PCMO (Peace Corps Medical Officer), Fina, is such a strong, smart, caring woman who has to deal with some very serious and some not so serious medical issues everyday. Always with a smile on her face and a kind word.

#4 Peace Corps training. Even though most of the training’s were super lame….it was always something to look forward to because you get to hang out with the other people in your group. As long as you can get through the training’s…there is always happy hour afterwards.

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#3 Kayaking. I have kayaked SO much these past two years. On the ocean, to surrounding islands, down rivers, waterfall tours. It’s kind of my favorite thing to do.

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#2 Asaeli. My best friend in Fiji. He lives in Nataleira, and he was my boyfriend for a few months last year. I learned so much from him about Fiji and it’s culture. He was more than just a boyfriend to me, he really has been my best friend in Fiji and I hope to always stay friends with him. he is a beautiful person and my time spent with him was perfect. 

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 #1 Nataleira. This village is everything that is beautiful and special to me. Everyone has their one place that they can go to get back to nature, get their head straight, and get focused. In America that place for me is Clover Bend; in Fiji, it’s Nataleira. Gorgeous village right on the coast, 4 hours away from Suva, 2 hours away from the closest town, no cell phone service, no internet, black sand beaches, moon reef, spinner dolphins, Mt. Tova, and a beautful village full of beautiful people/. Everything that I love about Fiji is in this place. It is so special to me. 

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Responses

  1. I recently received and accepted my invitation to Fiji, and am leaving in September. Reading your blog has made me more excited than the welcome book or volunteer description.
    Thanks for posting!

    • You should be excited. Fiji is freaking amazing. Enjoy your service there.

  2. Hi, I am a college student writing a paper on why people join the Peace corps, I was wondering if you would be interested in being interviewed for my paper.


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