Being Sick Lets Me Write Long Blogs…

I realize now that I actually forgot to attach that google image of my site, so here it is! My job is to monitor those amazing reefs… aka I get to go snorkeling and diving basically every day!

Well on Saturday we had our host family appreciation celebration at one of our host villages. Tim gave a speech in Hindi to the Indian host families, and Ben gave a speech in Fijian to all the Fijian host families. Our families were all presented with certificates as small tokens of our appreciation for all they have done for us over the past 6 weeks, we inevitably looked and acted like complete idiots for a while, and I am absolutely positive that we still do things that make them wonder about our sanity and American culture… The event was held outside as there was a fundraiser (Soli) going on in the church (lotu) afterwards and so the community hall (vale ni soqo) was unavailable. The village constructed a shed made out of bamboo and tin with mats (ibe) laid out over the grass. The event also consisted of all the trainees from their respective villages performing a meke for the group. Well the hosting site’s trainees went first and started performing under the shed, which no one thought would be an issue. Well about 20 seconds into their meke, they jumped. Jon, who is about 6’2” hit the corrugated tin roof and everyone laughed… I don’t think it really hurt but we were all just shocked by it. One of our mekes is performed standing up and we are all supposed to raise our hands (laveta cake na ligaqu), well Atama is 6’4” and his head nearly touched the roof, so we all improvised a bit with bent arms.
Well Saturday night/Sunday morning it absolutely DUMPED rain, and I mean the sky just opened up and it poured. I guess the feeling is amplified a bit by living in a house with a tin roof. Anyway I awoke on Sunday Morning at about 6, waited in bed until about 6:30 when it got light out and walked out into our living room. The side door was open so I looked outside and thought we had floated away, the water from the stream that runs parallel to my house had flooded its banks and our entire plot was flooded (at this point only by about 2 inches of water). I guess at 3AM our neighbor (Te’s host family) called my mom and told them to take everything inside because the creek flooded, and the peak of the flooding the water was about 2” below coming into our house. I am so very thankful it is built on 6” stilts! Anyway- it is currently Monday afternoon for me and it is still just continuing to dump rain.
On Sunday, I went (along with Atama) to the hospital in Suva to get my sore throat checked out. I have been sick since about Friday morning and decided that after 2 full days it might be worth having someone take a look at it. I think it’s better to do it now while I am located much closer to Suva and appropriate medical facilities than to wait til I’m sent to site on Ovalau. Well I must say that was the absolute fastest I have ever been in and out of a hospital… with the two of us it took about an hour to see the doctor and to get our prescriptions filled. I got prescribed antibiotics and some stronger fever/pain reducers to take for the next 5 days. Another aside, medicine here is cheap! The Peace Corps pays for all our medicine (which is quite amazing), but my antibiotics cost $10.78 FJ which is around 5 bucks USD… the fever reducers were $9.78 which is around $4.50 USD… I’m still kind of floored by that. Anyway, on Sunday after the doctors, Felipe (one of our directors for Pre Service Training who drove the two of us down to Suva) took me and Atama out for breakfast because none of us had eaten yet. Me and Atama got soup, it was basically Ramen (which is called Maggi here) with bok choy and carrots. It tasted so good though! After breakfast we went to the grocery store so I could pick up some more of the Maggi noodles for my mom to cook for me this week, its funny how some things never change no matter where you are. You get sick with a sore throat and eat Ramen. When I got home my mom and I were talking over yet another cup of magi and she explained to me that I got sick because the night before my hair got wet in the rain. She said that in Fiji, if your hair gets even slightly damp from the rain, you must go and take a shower. I am really confused by this because I think the rain water is warmer than the shower water… but I will humor the thought and pin it on that, even though I was sick 2 days before I stood out talking to Te in the rain for 5 minutes. My mom also started to explain to me some of the Fijian traditional medicine (essentially herbal medicine) which we are forbidden from practicing from the Peace Corps. She said that for a sore throat they take the kavika leaves and swallow them. Kavika is like a small green pear with a single pit in the center that takes a bit sour, I guess the English name for it is a Mountain Apple but I’ve never seen anything like it. Last night 3 women came over to our house to chat with my mom and have some dinner, my Auntie Sala (who gave me a dress and some jewelry a few weeks back), my yaca (namesake), and my nau Akosita. I am much better at listening to the conversations other people are having than actively participating in them at this point… last night they were talking about my sickness and what I should do about it and why I got sick, about us departing in such a short period of time and what they are going to do on Sunday as a celebration (they are planning on making a lovo- which is an underground earthen oven) which then led to them discussing the fact that I am a vegetarian, how smart I am (which is a cultural thing, they think that anything we do makes us smart, imatai, even though I have to vocabulary and grammar control of about a four year old. These are the women who have really become like family to me here and have taught me the most about culture, how to dress, act and eat, and about the incredible generosity and openness of the people here. We talked a lot about my new site on Ovalau, how to get transport back and forth between the islands etc. I told them I would come back for my birthday (which is also my host-dads birthday) and stay for a little while. They told me I always have a home here, and I told them that this will always be my village in Fiji (noqu koro e Viti).
Well right now it is Monday mid-morning and it is still dumping rain. Our Peace Corps doctor called to check in on me this morning and told me to stay in bed and get some rest so that I get better faster, plus it hasn’t been 24 hours on the antibiotics yet so technically I’m still contagious. Isa. I don’t think I have explained isa yet… isa is an interjection of pity, sadness, oh goodness, it goes for a lot of things. Basically anytime something sad happens or you talk about our departure, etc. you will hear rounds of “isa, isa”. “Isa lei” is the name of the Fijian goodbye song, I will put up the lyrics and translation one day when I have some extra time (probably in a few weeks or a month once I get settled into a routine at my new site) it is a really pretty song and I want to learn how to play it on the guitar. My mom is really funny, our bathroom is not attached to our house so I have to walk a walloping 10 feet to get there, but since it is raining so hard and I’m already sick, she is taking extra precautions to keep me dry. So on my outings to the loo, I take this small umbrella that is clear with purple hearts on it to get me there without getting my hair wet. This morning during breakfast she was wearing knee socks and a turtleneck sweater because it was cold (batabata), and for once I agreed… I’m wearing my black leggings under my wraparound sulu, and a longsleeve shirt while laying in bed.
Well that is about all I have to say right now. Being sick has given me a nice opportunity to sit around in bed, read, catch up on studying and sleep, and to be around my family a bit more during this last week.
Until next time.


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