And our lows, well they’re pretty freakin’ low. And more often they not they happen in the same day.
Thursday I probably had one of the best afternoons in my village yet. I got papayas, mangoes, and bananas brought to my door by kids. Tutored a few kids in math homework. Wrote in my journal while sitting on our seawall overlooking the vast blue Pacific Ocean while watching some of the village guys playing rugby. Learned how to make coconut oil (waiwai ni niu) scented with sandalwood (yasi) and lemon leaves (drau ni moli). And finally, went swimming in the ocean with about 60 of our village kids and youth. We played tag (known here as “he”), hide and go seek, and just generally messed around in the water for a few hours.
Well, I went back to my house around 7 PM to get ready for a village meeting that was to prepare for a village fundraiser (soli) and for the provincial meeting of the Lomaiviti Group in the middle of November. I had just had my bath and soaked my clothes that I went swimming in (you can’t swim in a bathing suit in the village so I hopped in in a skirt and tank top) and decided to check my phone.
Well I had a text message from the female volunteer that is stationed on this island. For reference there are only 3 PCVs on this whole island… The message said that she was being removed from site on Wednesday night and would be at a new village on the island of Vanua Levu on Thursday. What? I mean, we had known that this was a possibility due to an attempted rape of a volunteer up in that area a few months back. There are some details I can’t get into in this blog, but long story short, for safety and security reasons they are removing her from the village and placing her at another site. Isa.
She was like my person on this island. We would meet up in town to do our shopping once a week and check our mailbox and then get lunch/breakfast at our favorite place in town just to catch up and tell each other about how our lives and things in the village had been going. She would get the grilled chicken/cheese sandwich with salad and a small juice and I would get the small breakfast (toast, fruit juice, coffee, and seasonal fruits). We would sit there and confuse all the tourists by speaking to the locals that come in for tea in to morning in Fijian and catch up with the people in town that we could only see when we came in. Alex, the other volunteer on my island and I don’t really see each other all that frequently, mostly because we just kind of do our own thing and see each other when we see each other. Isa.
I’m losing my friend. Obviously I feel worse for her having to start over in a new village and losing 4 months of work. When I explained it to my village I said, “How long has it taken me to learn your names? Where you live? What kind of work you do? Who can help me with what? Who I can trust? Who can teach me certain things? Think of all that work she’s lost and has to start again in a totally new place, and not only a new place, but a new village with a totally different dialect.” It makes me sad to lose my friend, especially since now there will only be 2 of us on this island and I would have to pay $70 to go to Suva to see other volunteers (add more to that if I want to get to a village outside of Suva which is way more likely of a destination). At least she will be going to an island that has about 30 other volunteers ready to be there to help her.
Tuesday our boss is coming out to the island and will come to drink grog in my village after our village meeting (bose va koro) that evening. Wednesday I will go up to her village to help her pack and be part of the farewell ceremony (itatau). Thursday our boss will pick my up early in the morning on their way to the jetty so I can see her off. Thursday and 6 am it will be over. The three musketeers will be down to a duo (rua) out here on our small island gem. The end of something great. The start of something new. Adjustments, change, adaptation. That’s 90% of what the Peace Corps is about, you just hate to see it happen when we have absolutely no control over the situation, when it’s the fault of a few self-seeking individuals who don’t think about the village or the island or the people on it.
I love my village. I absolutely adore everything about it. The people are incredible and I love that in 4 short months here, I can truly call some of them friends and I know who I should talk to when I have certain types of problems. But there is something about having someone that understands not only what living in America is REALLY like, but someone who is going through the same Peace Corps experience you are going through, someone who isn’t being asked to walk a mile in your shoes, but who is literally wearing your right shoe along the road with you.