The longer I stay here, the harder it is to write blog posts. When I first arrived in Fiji everything was new- every taste, smell, word, way of doing something, every walk, conversation brought up something that starkly contrasted with my life back in America. Now I have been in Fiji for over 20 months (624 days- no I haven’t been counting, I found a site online that calculates it!) things just seem normal. Don’t get me wrong, there are still moments that absolutely astound and amaze me, but day to day life has settled into a fairly predictable rhythm which leaves me with little to blog about! So please, if there is something you want to know about, comment on this post and I would love to answer any questions you all may have! I’m an open book, and as this blog mainly serves as a way to inform people back home about what life is really like, its really YOUR questions I want to answer!
All that being said, two really exciting events happened over the past week that I’ll explain a bit.
The first was a visit from 2 volunteers from the main island. Its always great to share a little part of your experience with other volunteers. Every site and every island is different which makes travel here so invigorating. We all stayed at the Royal Hotel in Levuka town one night which has been a goal of mine, it’s the oldest hotel in Fiji! We spent the day exploring the historical sites in Levuka town and just catching up. The next day we visited a volunteer from the new group that lives close to town before heading up to my village for a few days.
We went up to the waterfalls in Tokou on Sunday afternoon to get a break from the oppressive heat. It was an awesome little adventure climbing around the falls and jumping into the pool. We went up to the dam at the top and I slipped into a pool off a particularly hidden rock and scratched my shin up pretty badly. Josaia, one of the guys from my village that came with us asked if I wanted the Fijian Medicine to make the cuts heal up quicker… so of course I said yes. He grabbed the wabosucu vine nearby, crushed it up in his hands and trickled the juice over my leg and then rubbed the leaves into it. It itches a little but actually offers some relief from the sting. Later, on the walk back, he took a lemon and smushed it into the cuts, that stung like no other! But the cuts have already healed up really well with no trace of infection.
The next day we took a little village tour. Then Deve, my partner in marine protected area management efforts, came by and we created a cage for coral planting. Later we made “cakes” to plant the coral in. Ill explain the process fully in another blog, but basically the hurricane mesh cage is placed slightly elevated in the water, the cakes (which have a cement “stem” to make sure the remain in place in the cage) are then placed in the cage. The cakes all have a small depression in the tops which will be filled with marine puddy that hardens underwater, in the puddy a small piece of hard coral will be placed. These starts will remain in the cage for 6 months to a year to grow and attract new polyps. They will then be placed in dead pieces of hard coral to attract new polyps to recolonize the reef in that area.
We went out to our tabu area to dive around and look at the fish for a few hours. I always have a really good time checking on the status of the corals.
We had library that night so the kids all came by to read and do homework. Always fun and draining.
The second big even this week happened yesterday. I was told the night before by a 13 year old girl in the village that the Roko Tui (basically the administrative head of a province) wanted me to come down the next day for a workshop. Well I had no idea when I went into town the next day what the workshop was on, or that I would be giving a presentation… I guess it pays to always be prepared! Turns out the meeting was about the Lomaiviti Provincial Council establishing an Environmental Committee to create a Provincial Natural Resource Management and Development Plan. It was a really full day attended by the divisional heads of many environmental departments, representatives from environmental NGOs, Government officials from Levuka Town, and representatives from each district on the main islands within the Lomaiviti group.
I ended up giving a 20 minute presentation on village level environmental resource management and the difficulties we face. It was to encourage the representatives to take back ideas of grassroots environmental change to their districts and villages and not to wait for government initiatives to help pay for them to clean up their act so to speak. It offered simple solutions and incentive ideas to get projects to work, how to initiate proper planning so that projects work, and how to remain open in communication with your government, village, island etc. so that you can encourage more changes in your area. I ended by saying that the changes in our environment are our responsibility to manage as best we can. We cant turn a blind eye to what is going on and action, even on the smallest scale, is important now.
So that has been my week! Its 32 degrees C here today, so I’m attempting not to melt as I write this (its only 9:30 am). Hope you are all doing well and don’t forget, let me know what you want to hear about!