Joose – The Thirst Quencher

Fiji is a hot country. People here get hot and thirsty. A hard earned thirst needs a big cold drink… and the best cold drink is Joose.

Joose, not to be confused with juice, is sold all over the streets in Suva either by the cup or by the bottle. The going rate at time of writing is 50c for a cup and $2 for a bottle, but if you are a whitey with an accent expect to pay up to twice that. Joose is somewhat of an all encompassing term, and there are really only two attributes that are common to all Jooses:

* Joose must be liquid… and
* Joose must be fruity.

This means that all kinds of things can be passed off as Joose, even things that are not in any way related to actual fruit juice. Here is a non-exhaustive guide to the do and don’ts, the can and can’ts and the what and whatnots of Joose.

1) Joose can actually be cordial
If your juice is particularly cheap, you are probably about to be handed a bottle or cup of cordial. Easier to tell when it is red or green cordial, but if it is lemon or orange you might not realise until you take a swig. Either way buddy, suck it up! Joose is not a drink for complaining whingers, you get what you are given.

2) Most of the time Joose is predominately Tang™
All the market sellers claim their Joose is juice, but their Joose ain’t just juice if the Joose house bin is littered with empty tang packets now is it? Indeed.

3) Joose may contain actual juice
If you find a Joose seller that sells Joose that tastes slightly different to all the other Joose sellers, chances are the guy adds actual juice to his Joose. This is a good thing! Latch onto it! Other clues your Joose may contain actual juice is if it is any way sour or bitter in taste, if the consistency is at all thicker than watery and if the hue looks different to other sellers.

4) Joose may actually be juice
I think this has happened once.

5) Joose can be substituted for kava if you aren’t the kava drinking type
Kava is more about the social aspect of sharing drink than it is about getting paralytic, so a bucket of Joose can easily be substituted for a tanoa of kava. Possibly a major contributing factor to the Fijian diabetes epidemic.

Joose really is a versatile drink. Next time you are in sunny downtown Suva man up and order a Joose. It’s the lucky dip of the beverage world. Besides, it’s gotta be better than the “water” we get from the taps sometimes.


A nice place to play

One of my favourite times in Fiji so far… for about an hour I was just chucking a volleyball in the air for some kids to jump and catch. You can only get to this place by boat, it was amazing.

Things Fijian People Like

Singing harmonies
Contrary to tales and folklore, not every Fijian person has a voice that would make angels weep tears of joy. In fact I’d say proportionally the number of amazing virtuoso vocalists in Fiji is similar to that of my home country, Australia. The general standard of vocal prowess though is top notch. You still get the odd guy or girl who sings a bit out of tune, but it is rare, and the average Joe in the street understands harmonies, can sing a fifth and has memorised his natural vocal part for about 200 different hymns.


Short back and sides
It’s manly, it ventilates, it’s $2.

It really is fun watching an unassuming and well rounded Fijian mama take apart a bunch of loud, shirtless backpacker jocks in a game of volleyball. They should really know better though, Fijians love playing volleyball, and they will mess you up at it if you give them half a chance.

Two minute noodles
Some prefer ‘Maggi’, others like the homegrown brand ‘Chow’. Here is an authentic local recipe for a dish called ‘noodle fiesta’ that some kids showed me at Kadavu:

8 packets of Chow noodles
2 tins corned beef
2 tins tuna

Boil 10L of water and put in a bucket. Break noodles into bucket and add spice packets. Stir. Wait for a couple of minutes, then serve noodles onto plate. Scoop corned beef and tuna onto noodles and stir through. Consume with cordial (aka ‘joose’).

It’s a good meal, but I’m not sure about the nutritional value.

Church for a few hours and then lovo. The perfect Sunday. Church in Australia definitely feels a bit short now when I go to a service.

Political discussions
Fijians read the newspaper every day, and they absorb everything. They seriously put my feeble memory to shame. So if something happens in the political world, I no longer need to read the paper, because chances are my taxi driver or the people at work will tell me something about it. I know a lot about the uprisings in the middle east now. I mean, enough that I could probably be a political correspondent.

Schoolboy athletics meets
In Fiji, schoolboy athletics is more popular than adult athletics. The Coca Cola games is the biggest competition and it was just on. There was busloads of kids screaming, people everywhere, the coverage on the TV was national and the results made front page of the papers. For three days the whole of Fiji had massive ‘Coca Cola games fever’ and everyone was talking about it everywhere we went. I think it might even be bigger than rugby.

Slapstick comedy
If you do get hurt here, people are going to laugh at you.

These are so cheap and so good. The Indian diet has definitely been adopted by the whole country and roti are at the centre of it. It’s a good thing too, because there is only so much cassava a man can eat.

Greeting each other in the street
If you walk past someone you know, you have to say hello. Suva is about as populous as the shire, and the downtown area is only about as big as Miranda fair. I’ve been living here six months and I always run into people I know, so it must take Suva natives about an hour to walk across town with the amount of people they would be bumping into.

People here actually don’t think of other people’s kids as annoying here. They actually dote on them, even picking them up and giving them hugs! What is that all about? In my world people just say that kids are important and valuable then treat them like inconveniences until they are old enough to vote, work and pay for things! Crazy backward Fijian culture!

If there is an occasion, there is a speech.

“Mates rates” and the non-commerce-based implementation thereof
Gotta say that as annoying as this is, I probably would get involved in this in a big way if I was kaiviti.

Surprise dress regulations
Sorry… no thongs…. on Saturdays… and maybe Fridays…. and uh… long pants…. yeah wear those too… we like our club sweaty so you buy more beverages.

Putting money and clothes on performers mid-performance
I’m still getting my head around this one.

Top 40 hits
Since living here, I have grown a new appreciation for Rhianna, Akon, TI, Beyonce, Jason Mraz, Train, Lady Gaga and many others. I’m still not quite there on the ‘Beib train’ though, no matter how many times I hear it on the bus, in the taxi, on people’s ring-tones when you dial them or in the cluuub.

Corned beef
See: 2 minute noodles.

Bula shirts
Hawaiin print shirts that you can dress up for a formal dinner, or dress down for a day at the beach.

M: Bula honey, this cat followed me home. Can we keep him?
F: We already got 3 pregnant dogs, 4 cats, several mongooses and a chicken
M: You’re right, we need a bigger house.

Totally understandable because it’s delicious here, and grows on countless fruit trees in every backyard and vacant block in the country. Despite this, our neighbours suckered Connie and Nikki into giving them our bananas off our only banana tree! They’re too nice for their own good sometimes.