My days, and weeks, have been filled with exhilarating activities; the things that we have been doing have pushed me beyond my comfort zone and catapulted me into a king like world. I feel like the boss!
I remember my first day, when our team had fully settled into the village. We took a 20 person pick up truck and made our way down to the VoliVoli beach and feasted on a big pic-nic. We sang songs, chopped fire wood, grilled fish and prawns we had just caught, ceremonially sipped kava, and explored deep into Fiji’s beautiful coral reefs. The feeling of elation over-came my body as I floated inches above the vibrant coral reefs as the colorful fish darted through the labyrinth of what was the floor of the ocean. The sentence above does not do justice to my expedition into the waters, but it is a feeling unimaginable. I am loving life right now; what are you doing with your life?
Our next major expedition took us to a very hospitable village about ten minutes east of Rakiraki. We were greeted with open arms, warm smiles, a kava ceremony, and a very eager tour guide ready to take us deep into the mountains that border most of the villages on the west side of Viti Levu. About 15 minutes into the jungle, passing kava fields and spiders made up of the things only nightmares are made of, we made it to a towering waterfall that over looked natural springs and two watering pools. It was something out of a Wes Anderson movie; its aesthetic was beautiful. Because of the the rock formation of the fall, we were able to water slide down the water fall and jump off the two gargantuan cliffs into the water holes. It’s a great feeling to open your arms and soar into a Fijian man’s arms.
Quiz night is on Monday. The quizmasters were Chris, Jodie and Alice. There were questions in various topics such as film, geography, sports etc. The highlight of the quiz night was the challenge, called pass the mango. We had to pass the mango from chin to chin between team members without dropping it or using hands. The winner of the quiz was Sam, Jordan and Millie, who will write next week’s quiz.
Our team set out to Fiji during a really pivotal and special moment. Aside from the Fijian festivities that seem to stretch a full week long, our first Wednesday happened to fall on the Hindu holiday Diwali, which is the celebration of lights and the New Year. At the Waimari primary school, where most of us are teaching, the school’s administration is run by a Hindu family that live right behind the school. Since we are teachers of the school, we are also family; the whole Think Pacific crew was invited to a proper Diwali celebration at the house. When we got to the school, we were welcomed with warm smiles and bright lights…. Seriously, every thing in the house was decorated just like Christmas. We lit fireworks, drank kava, ate traditional Hindu food, laughed, chatted, and talked about what we wanted to accomplish in the new year.
On Thursday we learned basket weaving. We had quite an audience of children by the end, all of whom were much better at it than us. The leaves we used were coconut leaves. It was much more fiddly than expected and really quite tricky. Everyone really enjoyed making them, even if ours turned out a bit rubbish. In the end we only really made about half our baskets, as the leaders had to keep coming over to fix them for us. We all finished with a complete basket eventually though, except for Sam who got too frustrated with his and so has a half finished leaf.
It unbelievable that we had made it a full week! Teaching and coaching 65 rambunctious Fijian kids can take it out of you. Luckily we were able to escape the chaos and head out to Wailotua Village to enter one of the world’s largest caves.
Inside the largest part the cave, the roof stretched up to 90 feet. Bats blanketed the roof and their screams echoed throughout the cave. Even further into our descent, our tour guide shared Fijian folklore about the cave that matched our high ambition. After the cave, we traveled to the Dakuivuna Waterfall, blasting reggae music to most of the top 40 songs that we all hear on the radio. The falls acted as a playground for the inner adventurer in all of us and central meeting location for some of the other international travelers in the area. We were able to chat with some of the other travelers, swim, push some of our leaders into the pools, and replenish ourselves with a well deserved burger. We all cheer!
by Sam Goodman, Ra November 2015 Volunteer