Kaivalagi in Paradise: An Immersive Experience of Fiji

Hello, and welcome to this very special and wonderful experience. Through the wonders of modern technology we are about to take you on a magical journey to the heart of Fiji without you ever leaving your chair. Take a few moments to breathe and relax your body. When you are ready you may click below to begin. Turn your speakers on or put your headphones in, relax and be transported to the tropical islands of Fiji…

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If you are viewing this on an iphone, you might be disappointed.

Late Night Meanderings Mostly Mentioning Guitar

It’s a mild rainy night in Suva, but not the kind of rain that makes you think a dinosaur is urinating on your roof, or that you are in “Noah’s Ark: The Action Adventure Ride”. It’s more the kind of rain that is nice to listen to, but awful to walk in; stronger than a pitter-patter yet not pouring.

I put on a pot of red tea and drank it with a blitz (gaytime impersonator) ice cream that Glen purchased for me. We sat around talking about Norway while I practiced my Arpeggios and tried to convince him to play ukelele. I think I made a good case.

I broke the Y key on my keyboard. It’s not a key that is used in a lot of words… unless you are attempting to explain to people that you “broke the Y keY on mY keYboard”. It was only working if you pressed it in the correct way. This Ameant if I was looking at my hands and not the screen then there was sometimes Y’s missing from my text. a couple of awkward typographical errors ensued, the pick of which was me calling a girl from high school’s wedding “our wedding”. Oops. I fixed the key tonight, which is my first successful laptop repairing experience. Might be able to get my nerd badge back after all.

Arpeggios are the first thing I have learned on guitar that sound really great straight away. Can you like arpeggios on facebook? You probably can. The internet rarely disappoints in its breadth of knowledge. Back in the 90s though we had geocities instead of wikipedia. Those were dark days.

I played some guitar on a little island on the weekend and I was trying to pick the key that these Fijian people were playing in and then solo along. I didn’t always get it right, but a lot of Fijian songs seem to be in G, A and B. Must suit the way they sing somehow. While we were playing guitar, the anchor rope of one of the boats moored just off the beach frayed and snapped and the boat drifted away. They tried looking for it but it’s probably in Tonga by now. I felt bad because it was a freak accident and some poor Fijian guy is going to get grilled by the owners.

Give me that guitar you tonedeaf kaivalagi!!

We sent our friend Shelly home today. We have one more confirmed visit from Connie’s cousins and then I think that might be it until we leave to come home. Flights are really expensive in August/September compared to normal. This might mean I go fishing on an island with my leave instead of coming home for a visit. There are lots of people I miss though.

I taught Connie what a hipster is tonight too.

Fiji time is a sham.

I have recently become convinced that “Fiji time”, the tendency for time to be fluid and not strictly adhered to, was invented to play havoc with the comings and goings of my everyday life. This is a new pinnacle of egocentricity for me that I am equally excited and ashamed of. The conspiracy is a carefully constructed ruse dating back many years and carefully constructed to seem like it is a part of Fijian culture in an elaborate attempt to fool me into thinking I just have bad luck. You see, the reason I hold these seemingly outlandish views about an endearing aspect of Fijian culture, is that Fiji time never EVER works in my favour.

I’m on time for the boat! Boat is 3 hours late.

I make a booking to go fishing early in the morning when the bite is hot. Fisherman sleeps in a couple of hours, we catch nothing.

I take a bus half an hour earlier than I need to. The front wheel of the bus falls off and we arrive two hours late.


(I have to convince the wheel thing hasn’t happened to me yet, but it it not uncommon here)

Now none of this is really rare, it’s even what you would expect to happen if Fiji time really was a nice part of Fijian culture and not an invention to torment and frustrate me. I’m not culturally insensitive after all, just overly inward focused at times. The problem is that whenever running late would benefit me, everything runs like clockwork. It’s seriously like they hired a crack team of German engineers to whip them into shape and whenever I am a few minutes behind schedule.

I’m 5 minutes late for the boat! Boat left on time, next one is in two hours.

I decide to sleep in an extra hour instead of getting to the island early. Everyone went fishing early that morning and they wont be back until lunch.

I take a bus an hour early in case wheels fall off the bus. The bus driver heroically challenges the world land speed record and I arrive three hours early. I sit around and hum songs to myself for as long as I was on the bus.

This dark conspiracy actually works as a double whammy in some situations where I get both unfavourable manifestations of Fiji time in the one foul setting. Last week I booked a massage for 2pm and had lunch arranged beforehand. Lunch ran late (Fiji time!) and I was getting nervous about missing the massage, so My brother and I hurried out to the road to flag something down for transport. We waited about 25 minutes for a bus, truck, taxi, minvan, anything to drive past and pick us up (No hurries no worries!). This is on Fiji’s busiest highway, where usually you hit something about every 5 or 10 minutes that will get you. Eventually a guy picked us up in a resort taxi and promised to take us right there. We stopped on the way for 10 minutes to drop off some vegetables to a friend of his (Sega na leqa!). Despite all of this we got back to the massage place at 2:03pm and ran to the massage bure. Of course, only one masseuse was there so I let my brother start and said I would wait. At about 2:17 after six or seven Fijian ladies ran around yelling out “SUUUUUEEEEEE? SUUUUUUUEEEEEEEE!” my massage lady wondered in (Ni sa bula Sue!). She had gone for a walk to see who was getting off a big bus that drove into the driveway up the road (You were here at 2? Isaaaaaaa!). As she started to massage I let out a desperate plea “Fiji time start… Fiji time finish?”.

I have to segway at this point and say the massage was great. Even if the massage ladies gossiped the whole time in Fijian. They do a great job and it’s cheap. I would go back. 4 out of 5 for the massage.

At 3:00:00pm the ladies both clapped their hands and finished. I sighed, took a quick look around for German engineers grinning in the bushes and walked off. There isn’t really much you can say in a situation like that… just laugh at yourself and just remember you only paid $12aud for the massage in the first place. Fiji is a pretty kickass place to live, even if there is a country wide conspiracy just to mess with you.

On a personal note…

I’ve been commentating a lot so I thought I would strip it back a little and just give you an update as to what has been going on. Connie and I have been continuing in our assignments working on various tasks. Probably the coolest news from my assignment is that I might be helping start a prawn farm 😀 and Connie’s top news was that she was on the news, walking in the background of a village.

Our house is going amazing, we live with 3 other very nice people. Glen has got me addicted to football manager and I’m happy to report watford won the champions league and premier league double this season. Nikki has got me addicted to pacific splits which are like splits and splices back home, except they only cost 55c so we are in big trouble for our diets. Grace is our other housemate and we enjoy having verbal banter which usually involves me chasing her around the house whipping at her legs with a tea towel. So far I haven’t drawn blood (I’m sorry Coggo and Nath, I have failed you both).

Suva city is in the middle of hot season. If you check a 2 week forecast it is the same every day – 30 during the day, 24 at night, storm in the afternoon, mosquito plague invasions at night. It’s like clockwork. We had a 29 degree day last week and even the expats had themselves convinced it was a cold snap; people were wearing jackets and beanies in the streets.

We managed to get away again a couple of weekends ago to the yasawa island group, which is touristy Fiji. It was nice but now that I’ve been to some of the quiet out of the way places, I can’t hack the people or the prices of the tourist brochure Fiji anymore. There are so many nice people and places in Fiji.

I booked flights to come back to Australia, so stay tuned and hopefully I’ll have a night in the city where we can all hang out. I’m more of a small groups kind of guy, but I think with the time I have it is the only way to see all the people I love, and be around for things I really want to go to like church and birthdays.

I’ve muscled my way into a couple of sports teams over here. Tuesdays Is the day of DOOOOOM because I play a 45 minute half of full field soccer, and then play a basketball game in vodafone arena afterwards (which I might add is like an oven). I also play soccer Fridays, usually only a half game again. Both our teams are undefeated, but I’m not contributing much in basketball. I’ve scored one point in three games :\

Unfortunately the films coming out over the last couple of weeks have been a bit trash so I don’t have any reviews for you, but I did see a NZ film called boy that was very good, and I’m quite excited about suckerpunch. I’ve also been watching season 3 of the wire and playing guitar scales a lot.

Anyways, that’s all the news for now – take care people! Hit me up with your news if I forget to ask ok?!

No Nishing?

The nishing! It is cancelled! It was a sad day yesterday, but a mixup in communication and general Fijian vagueness meant that we were not booked on a boat to go to the island so we are still in Suva. The boat made it to the island, but on the way back the engine failed and it is now drifting while people attempt to fix the problem. To borrow a phrase from Ghana Dee, “This is Fiji”.

So instead we are off to a village on vanua levu (get your google maps out industrious people) with one of Connie’s colleagues just for a few days and then maybe up to voli voli with the volunteering crew for new years. We were toying with the idea of coming home for Christmas at one point yesterday, but it was just too much money, too little time to prepare, and we weren’t sure everyone would even be around to catch up with considering it is holiday season.

Christmas is in full swing here, mariah is heard all over the place belting out all I want for Christmas is you, and lots of people are starting to depart to see family. I still managed to see a few films this week which I will dutifully review:

 

Tron – “You haven’t seen the original tron? What kind of nerd are you?”. This is the kind of ribbing I have been getting from these tree hugging hippy development workers when I told them I haven’t seen the first tron. I made sure to see this one to restore a bit of cred, but honestly it wasn’t that nerdy so I’m going to have to do better. The film was in 3d, it had pretty lights, the acting was ok to so-so, the plot was thin and the effects were cool. Rating: I’d rather munch on muncheros

Narnia, Voyage of the Dawn Treader – I loved these books as a kid, but always remembered the kids in the books being quite annoying. In this sense they have cast the actors very well. There were some pretty good bits in this film but it really felt like they had no time to fit everything in the story into the time they had for the film. It must have been a long book. Rating: Only if your little cousin begs you to go (but make your aunty pay)


Well that’s all for this blog post. I may or may not update before Christmas, either way have a blessed holiday time and I hope you all get to have some precious moments with family and loved ones.

Merry Christmas!