Thursday, January 26, 2006

Our Ship Came In!

A full ten days after our shipment from the US arrived in Suva, it arrived at our appartment yesterday. When it showed up I had to eat my hat. At the last minute, I had a bit of a panic "what if that's somebody else's stuff in there?", but it was our stuff, and all of it, and none of it broke. Customs was a snap. All I had to do is tell a woman that the computer was used. The woman from quarentine seemed convinced I hadn't packed any cane toads or kudzu. I was quite worried that there wouldn't be room and that the place would feel cramped once our stuff came, but that turned out to not be the case. We have an extra bedroom that only has extra beds instead of an office, but other than that, everything fit fine. It did take over an hour for them to assemble the bed. We've done it ourselves in much less time, so it was agonizing to wait, and occasionally peek in and see what little progress had been made. But that's how Fiji is, as pointed out in this article. [thoughfully sent to me by my aunt]

Now that we've got the shipment and our residence permits, the next beurocratic hurdle is actually getting R, registered for classes and cross-credited. Then perhaps we'll tackle the confusion that is getting the internet at home. You can only really concentrate on the red tape right in front of you, but as soon as you pass one hurdle there are just more waiting.

"To endure whatever befall" I think this line from the Fiji National Anthem is telling about what sort of an attitude you need to live here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Wolf Creek

Last night, we saw the movie Wolf Creek. It's a horror movie about backpackers in the Australian Outback. It got mixed reviews, and I agree. There were some terrible horror movie cliches. Make sure the bad guy is dead, duh! And the pacing was a bit off. But I did really like some elements. The cinematography shows how truly expansive the Australian Outback is, this becomes terrifying when you realize there is no where to run to. And of course I liked the bleak ending, I won't say anything more in case you're going to see it yourself.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Pacific Harbor

In order to avoid the hords of people flocking to see Benny Hinn, in Suva. R and I went to Pacific Harbor for the weekend. The bus ride cost $F3.75 each and took about an hour. The beach was lovely! Much better than the beach near Sigatoka. Because there wasn't much in the way of a coral reef, the beach was soft and sandy and there were waves. However, because there wasn't a reef, snorkeling was not very interesting. But we did work on our technique a little bit. We stayed at the Lagoon Resort, which was a little out of the way and where the cast and crew of Anacondas : The Hunt for the Blood Orchid stayed when they filmed the movie in the area. Because we were seemingly the only guests it was nice and quite, but a bit eerie. Pacific Harbor also has a tourist trap Cultural Center where we ate ice-cream and cought our bus home. The beach we went to was near the super swanky resort The Pearl. We ate breakfast there on Sunday and it was miserable. In Fiji breakfast is the most consistantly overpriced ($F5 for toast and coffee) and terribly made meal to be found. We've tried a lot of places and have been really dissapointed, every time. McDonald's has the best breakfast, and even that's not as good as in the US.

First Visitor

A friend of mine is in Fiji doing volunteer work for Greenforce. I knew that she was in Fiji, but we did not have plans until after her ten week stint was over. As it turns out, they were in Suva for a night to pick up supplies. She hopped in a cab and came to USP. I happened to be outside walking to an administrative office to try to track down my work permit. She got out of the cab and saw me walking across the lawn. It was a great supprise. I was showed her around a little and then we went back to my place to cool off. Afterwards, we met up with the rest of her volunteer group. They turned out to be mostly young and mostly British. They were staying at the South Seas Private Hotel. Later we ate at Pizza King, which had quite good pizza for Fiji, then went out to the O'Reilly's Bar, which was pretty much like any bar with pool, beer and ESPN on the bigscreen.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I've made a friend

Last night R and I had great Korean food at Korea House with somebody from the HR department who has been really helpful and friendly while I am stuck in the muck of a million administrative tasks which seem to take forever to get done. She's about my age and from Toronto. Around these parts just being from North America means we have a lot more in common than with most other people living here. "Christmas in the summer? That's just so wrong!" It was nice to be part of a social situation that wasn't a forced work function, and it helps me feel a little more settled in.

When I got home I watched The Next Joe Millionaire which I also watch because I hate the contestants. Am I a terrible person, or have I cracked the appeal of reality programming?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Jamies Kitchen

One of the wierd things about watching TV that's already a year old, is that the websites for the shows you're watching seem like they're from the future. But I still love Jamie's Kitchen.

Friday, January 13, 2006

English Language Skills Assessment

R has finally received paperwork to enroll as a student at USP. Today he's taking USP's compulsory ESLA test. Which is pretty funny as he's a native speaker. I took a look at the sample questions and actually found them to be confusing because it's testing a lot of things that as a native speaker I don't even consciously think about, and therefore get turned around when I do. Plus I think the selections for reading comprehension are poorly written.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Finally some pictures

This is our little Christmas tree. I loved it, just as I have loved all my Christmas trees.

Here I am making Kava on Christmas day.

This is Sigatoka Sand dunes. It's much more like the beach I'm used to than any other I've seen in Fiji.

Here we are eating Pizza by the Sea.

This is the obligatory sunset picture.

Here we are approaching Tivua Island. Then my batteries died. But a Google Image search gets better pictures than I can take anyway.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Weekend Movie Update

Saturday was Grease and Sunday was the Corey and Corey vehicle Licence to Drive. Not watching too much FijiOne as we're working our way through several seasons of Smallville. We are such dorks.

Friday, January 06, 2006

We hit a dog last night...

In J. Maarten Troost's excellent book The Sex Lives of Cannibals, he relates that hitting dogs on the road was such a common occurrence during their stay in Kiribati that it warranted no more than a casual "I hit another dog today" from his girlfriend at the end of the day.

Last night when taking a cab back from eating downtown at a Japanese restaurant the cab we were in hit a dog. We weren't driving fast, and the dog came out of nowhere. I didn't see anything and had no idea why both R and the cab driver were saying "Whoa!" as we came to a hard stop, and I slid forward in the back seat. Then I saw the dog sort of doing a running somersault out of the front bumper of the car, and heard the driver shout "You should keep your dogs chained!". The driver was actually a little shook up, and we kept re-assuring him that, no you couldn't see the dog, and no he wasn't driving too fast. We stopped at the police stand on the way home to report the incident, and the bumper was pretty damaged from the dog. We saw the dog running away, so it isn't dead or paralyzed, but who knows what sort of injuries he sustained. The cab driver told us that he felt bad as he has dogs himself, and then went on to relate in surprising detail what he feeds his dogs: 500 kg of sliced fish which he boils with some salt and onions.

This is the second such incedent in as many weeks. On Christmas day we witnessed the aftermath of a dog being hit. We didn't see the accident, but we saw the car pulled over, the group of people, the still alive but injured dog lying by the side of the road, and the crying little girl.

When we watched the news that night, both incidents seemed entirely incidental when they showed images an intersection with the blood stain and flip flops of a pedestrian who had been killed in an accident. "This years road death toll stands at one." reported FijiOne.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Holiday and Travel Log

Well, pictures will just have to wait a little longer. Anyway, R and I had a lovely holiday. On Christmas Eve, we went out to eat at the Great Wok of China. I had eaten there before and it was excellent, and it gets good reviews on the internet. However, our meal was less than spectacular. I speculate that the good cook had the night off. On Christmas morning we opened presents and ate a big breakfast, we then went downtown and watched The Chronicles of Narnia then ended up eating at McDonald's because it was the only place open and we were really hungry. Yes, I had a Big Mac for Christmas dinner. We also made Kava at home with the Kavabowl I got R for Christmas.

The next day we took a local bus, the Sunbeam Express to our hotel on the Coral Coast, the Bederra Inn. While it was a nice air conditioned bus, playing Around the World in Eighty Days, it was an absolutely miserable bus trip because the guy sitting next to us threw up in his lap...twice. I had to be on constant vomit alert and didn't dare nap, and I certainly didn't want to eat the snack I brought along. A woman sitting in front of us also threw up but at least had the curtsey to do in into a bag. It was the longest two hour bus ride of my life. When we arrived, we were starving and ate at the hotel's restaurant which was quite tasty. We spent some time at the beach, which was actually pretty sharp. They call it the Coral Coast for a reason. We had wandered down to a more local beach where I felt out of place in my bikini, so we then wandered in the other direction and found a pretty good beach behind the Outrigger Hotel. That evening we ate at Le Cafe, which proudly proclaims to be "Under Swiss Management". From what we can tell it means virtually indifferent service but tasty food. Plus there was a kitten there to keep us entertained.

The next day we took a taxi into the nearest town, Sigatoka, hoping to purchase some items that we had forgot to pack, and some tiva-type sandals for R as he had blew out his flip flops the day before. Unfortunately it was still a public holiday. In Fiji both Christmas and the day after (Boxing Day) are holidays, as they actually fell on a Sunday and a Monday, the official days off were Monday and Tuesday. Nearly all the stores in town were closed. But our hero the taxi driver took us around to some of the shops that were open. When none of them actually had shoes (even flip-flops) he saw somebody on the street he knew, talked with him for a little bit, then explained that this guy owned a shoe store in town that he would open up for us! And it was a good shoe store with plenty of selection, and R found just what he wanted! Then we had the taxi driver take us to the Sigatoka Sand Dunes. They too were closed, but the people who work there were having a picnic there, and the taxi driver convinced them to open for us! It wasn't really that much of a burden since the folks were already there. it just meant taking our $F8 to let us walk on the trail, but I'm sure we couldn't have talked them into it ourselves.

The sand dunes were really amazing! It was a 40 minute walk through both forests and sand dunes to the ocean where we saw big breaking waves for the first time since being here. Of course it was a "no swimming zone" but we waded a little. Hey, if your feet are on the ground, you're not swimming! The formations of the dunes really reminded us of the Oregon Coast, and the plants were all serving familiar functions, even if they were in unfamiliar forms. The informative placards answered a lot of "I wonder what plant that is?" questions I had had. We would definitely go back there, to spend more time, wade a little more, take a picnic, take the longer hike or take some visitors. That afternoon we went back to the beach behind the Outrigger, and ate pizza by the sea.

The beach near where we were staying was actually a little disappointing, so the next day we booked a day cruise out to uninhabited Tivua Island on Captain Cook Cruises. It seemed a little expensive and turist-y but I am so glad we did it. They come and get you right from your hotel, and despite it being a pretty long drive, the boat ride out there was really neat, on an olde tyme boat. Once we got on the Island it was amazing. The beach was soft, the water was warm, they had snorkeling gear, they served all the softdrinks and beer you wanted, they served an awesome barbecued lunch and the beach combing was incredible, shells all over the place! It was really worth it to come out. I was really jealous of the two couples who were occupying the two overnight accommodations on the Island. But we can just come some other weekend to do that if we want! On the boat ride home, it rained really hard, and everybody on board got soaking wet. this is part of the reason why it wasn't until later that night, I realized that despite my precautions, I had gotten a pretty bad sunburn. Except on my arms where I'd already gotten a 'base tan'!

The next day we checked out and took another local bus back to Suva. We accidentaly got on a bus that wasn't an express and it took twice as long to get back as it took to get there. But, because the bus wasn't air conditioned, the windows opened, it wasn't nearly as crowded and nobody threw up! Despite being much longer, it was actually more pleasant, it rained again which cooled the air and my sunburn and made is so that you didn't regret not still being on the beach.

The rest of our time off in Suva was pretty uneventful. We didn't even do anything for New Years except shoot off a few fireworks. We bought a DVD player which helps release FijiOne's hold on my consciousness and saw Jarhead which was good but plenty depressing.

I'll try to post some pictures maybe sometime next week. Our first venture out of Suva went well we hope to do lot's more Fiji vacationing in our near backyard.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Holiday and travel log to follow...
For now:

7.0-strength earthquake felt off Fiji

SUVA, Fiji, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- An earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale occurred in the region of Fiji Tuesday morning, but there have been no reports of casualties or damage.