Search Terms, You Searched for ’em, So Here are Some Explanations

Apparently you searched for these things, so in order to divert more random people to this blog… I am going to attempt to post pictures for a lot of the more randomly searched things. Be prepared to have your boredom officially busted and you funny bone tickled….

real rain

Real rain? Is there fake rain? Do you live in Hollywood and are consistently confused

about the distinction between reality and special effects? Since I don’t know how to

answer this search term… ill just post some pictures of “real rain” here in Fiji. The

kind of rain storms that prompt everyone to go out and take rain baths


the flood after heavy rains in Naimasimasi, my training village. In the night the water went up to the top step, just about an inch from coming into the house. Damn good thing their house was built on stilts!


The lake that appears in front of my house every time it rains here.


are there mangoes in fiji

Why yes indeed there are mangoes in Fiji! Mango season is typically November to

February-ish butit really depends on the weather and type of mango. This year our

mango season was cut really short because cyclone Evan swept through and

destroyed everything. Angst.


This is a type of mango thats green but super ripe. here, its really common too just bite a little hole in the top and squish the guts up through the top… its essentially a smoothie in a self contained vessel…


another type of mango… probably the prettiest one ive ever had the pleasure of eating. Here in Fiji you “drink” mangoes… you dont eat them.

book donations for kids in fiji

Books are a really important thing in developing countries. Many volunteers work

at schools that would always welcome book donations. You can get in contact with

volunteers through their blogs and ask about shipping books over here. There is an

NGO based out of Philadelphia called Darien Book Aid which I got books donated

through. They go all over the world but you can specifically request they be sent to

Fiji and you don’t have to pay for international Shipping! If you do plan on shipping

directly, please indicate on the box, “USED BOOKS, NO VALUE” So hopefully we don’t

have to pay customs charges to pick up the boxes. You can also look up Ministry of

Information, Library Services of Fiji, Suva City Library, or Protective Services of Fiji.

Those would be the best places to start looking.

If you really want to donate books right this instant- send me a box. I started a

village library next to my house and we are always looking for new additions to the

library. My address is:

Samantha Russell PCV

PO Box 142

Levuka, Ovalau

Fiji Islands, South Pacific.

If you donate, be prepared to get a thank you card in the mail from the kids that

frequent the library!


Deve sitting in the library when we first constructed the shelves… now those bookshelves are overstuffed with books!

different cultures holding hands

So Fiji is interesting on this topic. Fijian men will regularly hold hands and giggle l

ike small school girls.  Fijian girls will often hold hands as they walk around. I always

get led somewhere by and old woman who holds my hand. HOWEVER, Fijian men and

women… NEVER hold hands. There is no outward sign of affection between married

couples or people who are dating here in Fiji. Its very interesting that in a country

that is very homophobic, men can hold hands with each other, but its considered

extremely tabu (taboo) for a man and woman who are married to do such.

fiji medicine for cuts

The most popular Fijian medicine for cuts here is called wabosucu, or Mile-a-minute.

Its literally just crushed up in your hands until just the green juice exists and its

rubbed over the cut. It burns at first but heals cuts really well. I slipped up at a

waterfall (thank you astigmatism for poor depth perception) and those scars are much

less noticeable than other scars I have gotten since I began my Peace Corps service.


Josaia putting the smashed up wabosucu on my cuts from the waterfall excursion


The Wabosucu plant


Vili with the Fijian medicine that cleared my sinus infection… a little snort up your nose and the rest to sit in your ear for 20 minutes. Worked like a charm but he wont tell me what it was because, “then it wouldnt work”

tawake momo

I have no idea how someone typed this into a search bar, but I indeed to have a

momo Tawake. Momo means uncle here. This particular old man, bless his heart I

just love him to pieces, changes his relationship with me to suit the occasion. If he

wants to joke around he will be my father and I call him Ta, if I want things from him

I call him Momo (Uncle), If I want to joke around and make the other boys jealous I

will call him my Tavale or cross-cousin.


Me and my momo Tawake dancing. He is my favorite dance partner!


Momo Tawake is the one on the far right. Funniest man ever.

fijian boys drinking grog

Lordy lordy have you come to the right place for Fijian men drinking grog. My

village drinks an absurd amount of grog and all throughout Fiji, Ovalau is known to

have some of the sweetest and best tasting Kava due to our geography and soil

conditions. So here are a few pictures of those gorgeous men.


Tubuna, our Pastor Epeli, and Inia at grog


The guy throwing powder I only know as “Mata” which is short for Mataqali, its a relationship certain provinces have with each other and we sometimes just call people that. The guy sitting is Beso from my village. He was singing at the induction of our Water system by Habitat for Humanity in October 2011. Covering him with cloth and powder are signs of affection and a job well done for his singing. I have to admit he’s got an AMAZING voice.


a grog session at my favorite house to drink at

armpit sexy

I’m assuming this search led to the picture of my armpit boil… which would in no

sense of the word be deemed sexy. However, just to make all you back home cringe

once again, here is that lovely boil!


boil juice. yummy. I promise you I wasn’t sweatiing that excessively… I had just finished soaking the boils in hot water.

loloma bibi

Loloma bibi translates to, “With great love” it is typically used when writing letters

but more typically shown through the actions of people here. This is a picture of me

at my farewell feast in August 2012 before I went home for a few weeks. They spent

the entire day with me. We made a lovo (earth oven), I roamed around with my friend

s and we drank grog all night. It’s truly the actions of the people here that encompass

this saying.


The night before I went home for my Sister’s Baby Shower last year the village threw me a huge going away party complete with feast and long night of grog.

fijian jaba

A Sulu Jaba (said Sulu Chamba) is the two piece top and ankle length skirt that

women wear on nice occasions. To church,to weddings, to a funeral, to meetings, to

workshops, sometimes even to town. I have like 9 of these. I wear them entirely too

frequently for my liking. The skirts are one piece of fabric with elastic at the top and

the fabric just crosses over itself. So the seam you see is replicated a little further in

on the other leg… meaning that you trip on yourself if you intend on walking at a little

faster than a crawl. Been to Fiji? Ever wonder why people walk so slow? There you

have it. Sulu Jaba’s, short cutting your stridesince the missionaries arrival.


at a reguregu (bringing of gifts before a funeral) in Naikorokoro village


smelly laundry

Okay, If you are googling “Smelly Laundry” I don’t think I can help you… but here

is a picture of smelly laundry to satisfy your inclinations.. My suggestion. Wash your

freakin’ clothes! I smell… but I live in a village with regularly dirty water so I can’t do

much about that. Must admit I found strawberry scented laundry detergent and I went

on a cleaning rampage. I cleaned everything so it would smell like strawberries and

sunshine. Made my night sleeping in such a wonderfully smelling bed!



how to make fiji ice blocks

Oh Ice Blocks, the only sweet relief available on an otherwise seemingly endless

series of sweltering summer days. Recipe. Take a carton of milk (or 1 liter if you don’

t buy your milk in tetra cartons…) add sugar and vanilla. Stick in a plastic cup with a

popsicle stick. Boom. Ice block. Flavored Ice blocks you ask? Well there are the juice

ones which are just frozen juice or frozen juice and milk with added sugar (because if

it doesn’t give you diabetes, it just ain’t worth drinking here). Best ice blocks?

Chocolate. BY FAR. It’s the best flavor ever. Its like chocolate ice cream. Holy cow.

One store in the village sells them and when its really hot they sell out faster than

anything you’ve ever seen. 50 cents a block. To make chocolate ones its just about

the same as the regular ice block just add cocoa powder and extra sugar.

reef top view

The reef here is amazing. Here are a few pictures to (barely attempt to ) do it justice.



fijian salusalu

A Fijian salusalu is essentially what you think of when you hear Hawaiian Lei  except

way more intricate. Here we take voivoi (the same material that is used for weaving

the mats) and make a base. To the base different flowers and leaves are attached

with ribbons, twine, or yarn depending on whats available. There are a lot of variations

and styles people choose from. Salusalu’s are given to chief guests, VIPs and the like.

Sometimes they will be given on your arrival or departure from a village.


fiji santa claus

Oh this is a fun one. So… technically here he is referred to as “Father Christmas”

yadda yadda. There aren’t the same stories that kids have their heads filled with in

America around Christmas (Children under the age of 12 please discontinue reading…

NOW) because Fijian kids don’t get a tree at Christmas time completely obscured by

gifts, they aren’t taught at a young age to believe that a fat man in a red and white

suit comes down your chimney at night to put presents there. Because he doesn’t. It’s

your parents. They usually get one or two small gifts at lunch time on Christmas.

However…. My first christmas here I went to the next village for their school’s

christmas party. And I was terrified by what I saw. A Fijian in a Santa Claus outfit.

Complete with rubbery plastic face… that was duct taped on the side of their head.

No wonder half the children screamed when Santa made them hug him. It was one of

the more entertaining moments in my service!


how do you say welcome in fijian

Oddly enough there is no way to say, “you’re welcome” in Fijian. If someone says

“Thank you” (Vinaka) you would just reply with the same.

fiji card game, trump 10

Ah good old trump 10. When kids in the village say it, it really sounds like “Troop 10”

but it’s the same game. Its very fun, and passes a lot of hours at grog sessions or

just in the middle of the day when there is not much else going on.

How to play (4 player game)

The dealer shuffles and asks the person to their left to cut the deck. They then pass

out 5 cards face down to each player. Each person can look at their cards. The person

to the right of the dealer calls the trump suit. Spades= Siveti, Hearts= Ate, Diamond=

Daimani, Clubs= Kalavo.  Then the dealer passes out the rest of the cards.  I always

arrange my cards by suit in ascending order… but that’s just a personal choice.

Now the player who called the trump is the first to throw down a card. There are two

teams. The dealer and the player opposite him/her and then the player who called

trump and the one that cut the deck.  Everyone throws down a card in a

counterclockwise motion. The object of the game is that each team works together to

get as many 10’s as possible. For example if I start the game with an Ace of Diamonds

and my partner has the 10 of Diamonds, they really want to throw that down because

in the first round, its unlikely anyone has run out of diamonds and can trump the hand

to take it for their team. So anyway. Whoever wins the hand with either the highest

card of the starting suit or with the highest trump takes the cards. If it contains a 10

the 10 is placed face up, if its just 4 other cards they are placed face down in front of

one of the two partners.

You may be asking, uh who wins? There are four 10s… so what if each pair gets 2?

Well in that case its based on the number of other “tricks” each team gets.  Whichever

team with the highest number of downward facing piles of 4 wins.

And that’s how you play troop 10. If a team takes all 4 10’s then its called skunking.

AKA “We just skunked you!” called Sikoqe here… and its awesome. This is a VERY

enjoyable way to spend an evening.

when does ringworm go away

In hot humid climates like Fiji? Seemingly never. I have had riingworm 3 times. The

first it went away in 1 week (I had caught it early). The second time took 2 weeks. I

have had my current  blight of ringworm for 3 weeks now. Same spot as before and it

just looks angry. Here we are issued Tinea cream, and anti fungicide that you apply to

the rash 3x daily along with attempting to keep the area dry… not so easy when you

sweat like crazy. If ringworm persists you can take antifungal pills, I havent taken them

yet but I hear they are horse pills and you have to take them every day for quite some



fijian babakau recipe

MMM Babakau. Fried pancakes essentially… but fluffy and airy and freakin’ delicious.

Make them at home. I’m serious. Tell your significant other/children/friends that you

are going to make something awesome for breakfast and just do it. Best when topped

with peanut butter and served hot. PB is super expensive here so I usually just dip

them in tea…. Or you can put jam or butter, or another personal favorite, a little

cinnamon and honey! Pick your poison!  Here is the recipe. And im not joking… try it.

1TBSP Yeast

1/2 cup warm water

1 egg

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

3 cups flour

1 TBSP oil

+ Oil for deep frying.

– mix warm water with yeast and sit 10 min. In another bowl mix egg, salt, oil,

sugar and flour. Add yeast to flour mixture and stir until the dough is firm. Knead 5

minutes and rise 1 hour. Roll flat and cut into triangles. Let rise again 30 minutes.

Deep fry in a skillet with 1/2 inch oil and drain on newspaper.

you can’t kill a cockroach

You CAN! It just takes a long time.  Mortein spray sold here can be used. Spray

directly on the offending critter then run for the cover of your WELL TUCKED IN

MOSQUITO NET. The spray attacks the nervous system so the cockroaches just freak

out and skitter around running into things for like 5 minutes. They fly a lot here too

which is why the mosquito net is of high importance here.  Then they die.

Example two, my parents had the grand (mis)fortune of witnessing this travesty on

their visit to my village. I took out an empty wine bottle from under my sink which had

had a cork… so couldn’t be closed again.  I picked it up so that I could grab something

behind it and noticed that it was moving. Well. The inside of wine bottles don’t move. So

I took a closer look and realized that there were 6 massive cockroaches inside this wine

bottle. So I slammed my palm over the opening and rummaged around until I found

my duct tape. I duct taped the top closed and wrote the date on the bottle to see how

long these buggers could last without oxygen… 8 weeks. Yes, a very disturbing 8 week

s of Cockroach survivor until the last one finally bit the dust and turned into roachy

goo along with his fellow fallen comrades .


can tinea be mistaken for heat rash

There were multiple variations of this question… can ringworm and heat rash be

confused. Short answer, no.

Ringworm is a distinctive fungal infection. It looks like a red/pink ring with a normal

skin color inside. The edges of the infection are raised and the area is itchy. Ringworm

can be transmitted by animals and humans and is very contagious. Best treatment,

use tinea cream or another fungicide on the area 3 times a day until the infection has

cleared up and keep the area DRY! This is the most difficult part because it often show

s up in naturally moist areas… this is where the fungus thrives.



Heat rash on the other hand, while also showing up in areas that are moist (the

inside of your elbows, behind your knees, inner thighs, under your bra line, and the

nape of your neck if you have long hair) looks distinctively different. It is small raised

red bumps in an irregular pattern. Treatment of heat rash would be to keep the area

cool and dry if possible. If its on your neck, keep your hair up and use a towel to wipe

away sweat. Also using baby powder to soak up any excess sweat is not a bad idea!

Powder down before goin to sleep!


images of fiji sea algae (lumi)

Lumi is a very common Fijian seaweed especially around Viti Levu and the Lomaiviti

group. Lumi is consumed regularly in my village in 2 ways, just the lumi covered in

coconut milk with chopped garlic, onions and chilies, or in “lumi cevata” in which the

lumi is cooked with coconut milk to release the carrageenins in the seaweed (the same

material in seaweeds that solidify your toothpaste and are put in ice cream) this makes

essentially your grandma’s jello mold. Except instead of fruit inside, you get salty

seaweed. Its disgusting and makes me want to vomit every time I see it.

Lumi is also being used more and more frequently as an income generator in rural

villages. Seaweed farms are being set up all throughout the Lomaiviti region where I

am stationed  so that villages can grow the seaweed to maturity, dry it, and sell it for

export to Chinese markets where it is considered a delicacy. Great projects as they

provide an economic incentive for villages to protect their marine environment.


tilapia fish in earthen pond photos
 Well you just asked for the pictures, so here you go. Once again this is a great

project for villages to protect their marine environments. By obtaining fish protein

from a terrestrially based source as opposed to the marine environment there is no

impact on the reef allowing MPAs to work even better as fewer and fewer fish are

being removed from the surrounding unprotected areas for consumption. Villages

can also sell the fish and make a pretty penny! Some areas also combine chicken

coops above the fish ponds so that the chicken wastes enter the fish ponds and

fertilize it starting off the production of algaes which the tilapia will eat. Awesome

enclosed system with no monetary input necessary after the initial cost of project

start up. We hope to do that in our village but time will tell. Its involved and does

have a large start up expense but pays well in the end!





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4 responses to “Search Terms, You Searched for ’em, So Here are Some Explanations

  1. What a fun blog! Thank you for the tour of Fiji miscellaneous! Delightful!

  2. Rachel Valera

    Great blog, pictures and explanations! I feel like I have been on a short visit with you in the comfort of my own home. Look forward to your visit in September(where ever I have to go to visit). So proud of all you do and all you endure. It is an amazing journey you are on!

  3. LOVE Troop 10 (trump 10), I recently learnt it at Namuamua and had my but whooped by the local card shark Voula. I’m sure she was counting cards or something!

    • Oh goodness, those kids play this game so often! The kids are the hardest ones to play with! Their minds are sharp as tacks! Playing with a card counter is the worst though… can’t throw any surprises their way!

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