Archive for June, 2010

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Shark diving and river rafting in Fiji

Monday 21st June –

Today the team were able to enjoy a free day in glorious south pacific sunshine, with some bridge jumping, swimming in the pool and strolls down to the nearby arts village. Jason also headed across the road to Aqua Trek Divers for the incredible Beqa shark dive, and the pictures show a stunning display of sharks, including bull sharks, silver tip sharks and lemon sharks, and a huge number of colourful fish in the nearby waters, a special experience! In the evening the team had a few drinks and looked forward to the kayaking adventure with Rivers Fiji tomorrow morning!

Tuesday 22nd June –

Early this morning the team were onto the Rivers Fiji bus and up into the Namosi Valley for the river rafting, and with the sun shining it was a perfect day for it! Arriving at the rafts they split down into their teams, with Graham, Jason, Poppy and Cassie together; Tim, Benjy, Jamie, Anna and Lucy Price on the “Pirate Boat”; Ronan, James, Sophie and Lucy Lomax on one raft and Joe, Becky G, Greg and Georgia together.  The canyons are absolutely unbelievable to paddle through, and after some rainfall over the last few nights the rapids also took a few with them, with Tim overboard twice and Jamie also swimming! And of course there were the usual fun and games on the water with pirating all over the place and people going in all sides! With an awesome lunch spread set on the side of the river in the canyons there was a chance to get some energy back for the afternoon raft, stopping at the waterfall along the way for a swim and some photos. Arriving at the end there were allot of smiles on faces after a fantastic day on the water!

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Laura returns to her Fijian village

gap year returns! laura & david in naicabecabe

Last week Think Pacific was very happy to see Laura Burnett, from Scotland, return to Naicabecabe village on Moturiki. Laura volunteered with us on our September 2009 gapyear expedition and made a huge impact both within the team but also the community as a whole. Meeting Laura, and her brother David, in Naicabecabe, they were all smiles after a morning helping in the village kindergarten, and with stories of late night Uno games and a grog parties to come with her Fijian family and friends, life in her village once again seemed very natural for Laura.

As an organisation we are massively excited to see our past volunteers return to Fiji – especially less than a year after their gap year project with us. With talk on facebook of many more volunteers planning to head back to their little island in the South Pacific in the coming months, we know there are many more good times ahead.

It is the relationships formed between our volunteers and the communities that make the experience so special, and they are a testimony to the team that shall last long into the future. So Vinaka vaka levu to Laura for making the journey home to Naicabecabe, it means so much to so many, including Think Pacific!

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Becky shows real determination on her Fiji gap year

gapyear blog profile pics - becky saddler   gapyear blog profile pics - becky saddler (1)

The past week has proved tough for one of our May 2010 expedition team in particular, with Becky Sadler admitted to hospital for treatment for an infected foot caused by a blister that she picked up whilst snorkelling the reefs. With conditions in the village being unsuitable for recovery, we were gutted for Becky as we had to transfer her across to hospital in Fiji’s capital, Suva.

With our expediton leaders, taking it in turns to make visits to be with her and monitor her progress, we thought that her time on the project had come to an end and she would be returning to the UK to recover in the comfort of her own home. However, Becky was absolutely determined to stay on in Fiji, and after waiting patiently in hospital for her foot to heal, she was at last given the all clear by the doctors to make a visit back to Niubasaga village.

To surprise the team, our leaders kept Becky’s return a secret, and it was a fabulous moment for Becky to be reunited with her gapyear team and of course her Fijian family.  Becky has been an absolute star on the expedition thoughout, meeting the challenges of project work and village life with a huge sense of commitment and always with a massive smile, and it is testament to her character that her Fijian mum Joanna had tears in her eyes saying goodbye. Now as the team head for the coral coast, Becky has a final week in Fiji, resting her feet by the swimming pool, she certainly deserves a great final week in Fiji!

gapyear blog profile pics - becky saddler (3)

Hello and BULA T.P bloggers :-)  it’s Becky here… you know the cripple one! Well after an epic week on the island of Moturiki living and loving the styles of Fijian life I found myself with a lovely swollen foot.

Not to get to ahead of myself, the build was amazing. To watch a structure being built from nothing up to a timber structure and roof and now finished has been amazing. Not only that I’ve loved teaching hockey and netball to the children of the Nasauvuki school, they’re all so loveable and cheeky. I really formed a strong bond with my Fijian mummy and daddy… the best icebreaker in the world Yorkshire gold tea!!!!!!! Instantly got chatting and I thoroughly enjoyed the Fijian lessons and chats with vakatower and Joanna. I also tasted some marvellous Fijian foods such as daruka in lolo and fresh fish every evening, off course after we had said masu.

So I spent 3 days in Levuka hospital, and had tons of visitors from random moturki people who came to visit me just because we were from the same island … I love Fiji lol. After that I got shipped into Suva hospital with husband number one (expedition leader Benjy). I had a thirty dollar operation and lots of i.v antibiotics … rock on. Okay Fijian hospitals can get v. Boring, I am so thankful for having my husband’s there! Every day for like 5 hours me and Benjy would chat, I would whoop him at card games and occasionally we’d escape the hospital and venture outside for some off road wheelchair riding!

Monday came and I was still stuck in this hospital! By this time I’d made a great patient mate called Una! She’d regularly escape the hospital and go to the shops and buy some balsami and cream buns for us both …. Yes she was an absolute legend! Also Monday I had a change of husbands and expedition leader harry would be hanging out at the hospital for the next 5 or so days. Harry bought a laptop with films…. omg soooo great! Plus he bought an absolutely lovely lovely card from the team where they’d all wrote get well messages I loved that so much, it cheered me right up!

When I finally got discharged, the insurance company thanks to the help of the legendary U.K guy (Simon) got me a sweet set up in the holiday inn with free breakfast buffet in the morning! Honestly I have never appreciated so much luxury, a pool, TV, aircon, a fridge and the Japanese rugby team!!!! So me and harry had to change my dressing everyday and still do, it’s so funny, although we’re getting very good at it now!

Thanks to the U.K guy once more, I was allowed to return to Niubasaga for the goodbye ceremony. The moment I heard this I was so ecstatic it was unreal! When harry piggy backed me from the boat into my house I saw vakatower and gave him the biggest hug! Next thing I knew I heard a stampede of people running towards my house shouting Becky…Becky!!!!! Everyone came in and I gave them all huge huge hugs, it was so good to be home. All the kids and adults popped their heads round and said hi and glad to see me home! Next thing I knew, I was in my jamba dress sitting in church. It was a great service. Lucy, Tim, Benjy, and James did 4 fantastic speeches and managed to get through the whole speech even though everyone of them were teary eyed. The feast in the village hall was delicious, and the fresh food (not hospital food) was absolutely to die for! After that we all got our grog on and had a great session of hop hop, that lasted until 7 am in the morning which is when the boat left for calaqai island. Lucy price and Anna were the hardcore team members who lasted all night and didn’t sleep!!!

Saying goodbye was always gonna be awful, and it was. Everyone of us was crying and it was really hard leaving the island as they all sung and waved us off.  Right now I’m sat at bar of the Club Oceanus and it feels so weird! Everyone is having such a good time and even Jason went for a shark dive today this is definitely gonna be a fantastic end to an epic trip.


P.s I would just like to say how thankful I am for having Harry and Benjy visit me in hospital they so fantastic!  Sota tale xxxx

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Farewell to the village, an emotional goodbye from our gapyear team.

 gap year week 4 - last day on caqalai. (9)

Friday 18th June –

With it being the last day in their Fijian village for our May 10 gapyear team this morning, Anasa, Joe and Vakatawa took Graham, Ronan, Benjy, Poppy, Lucy L, Cassie, James, and Lucy P out snorkelling to watch them spear fish for this evenings feast, a fantastic experience for the team. Ronana also headed out line fishing with the Turaga ni Koro and caught 7 big tuna fish for the farewell dinner.

The afternoon was then spent packing and playing cards in the village, and was also a chance to give pressies to the families that have looked after them so so well. At 6.30pm the team and community then attended a farewell church service, and after very humbling thanks from the Ratu of Moturiki Inoke, and from other village members, Lucy Price and James stood to say their thanks on behalf of the team. It is impossible to describe the emotions of expedition life, and both Lucy and James, and all those in the Church, were feeling those emotions. Tim also said a few words, with this being his first expedition, and Benjy said some emotional farewells, as after spending a year with us as expedition leader he will return to the UK next week.

After Church the team and villagers headed into the community hall for an unbelievable feast prepared by the ladies, with fresh fish, crabs, roro, stir fry, dalo and cassava and lots more! And then of course it was time for the grog party, and with the band in full voice, and with the guys from Caqalai over and visitors from Navuti, Nasauvuki and Daku, it was quite the party! Tradition is now that the party goes until morning, and Lucy Price and Anna were still drinking and enjoying the “hop hop” at 6am as our “survivors”! It was however then time to load up the bags and say our goodbyes, the toughest moment of any gapyear expedition, and with the villagers all following us out into the sea as we made our way to Caqalai you could see just how special the last 5 weeks has been for both the gapyear team, but also the community of Niubasaga, and how much the whole experience of living and working together will be missed. There really is no place in the world like a Fijian village, it absolutely blows me away every time!

Saturday 19th June –

With the day on Caqalai to relax Jason, Nathan, Cassie, Anna, Graham, Ronan and Lulu headed out deep sea snorkelling, and saw some spectacular stuff including turtles and reef sharks! In the evening the Caqalai guys got a beach bonfire lit to sit around and tell stories of the village!

Sunday 20th June –

This morning our Fiji gapyear team loaded onto the boats to head for the mainland, with a few of the villagers from Niubasaga arriving to see them off before they waved goodbye to Moturiki…for now! Back on the mainland we were onto the bus and across to Club Oceanus in Pacific Harbour, stopping in Suva to grab some food along the way. And with the sun shining the afternoon was spent in the pool, jumping off the bridge and enjoying a beer by the river!

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Gap year diary – week 4 in Niubasaga village

gap year week 4 - last day on caqalai. (2)

Monday 14th June –

With the projects completed the last week is a chance to spend time with the families and have some fun as a team. In the morning the team relaxed in the village and got ready for the epic sporting event of the TP Olympics May 2010, due to start in the afternoon. The teams were set, with The Moturiki Mosquitoes – Poppy, James, Becky G, Lucy P and Graham; The Funky Fijians – Nathan, Joe, Lucy L, Georgia and Jamie; The Sweedish Sweethearts – Cassie, Sophie, Jason, Ronan and Greg. The first sports were hockey, Frisbee and football, and after some tough competition, with plenty of laughs, the Moturiki Mosquitoes were clear in top. However, with just volleyball to play, and with Tim as our esteemed judge, he decreed that it was all or nothing on the volleyball with 10 points on offer to the winners! Karma is however a wonderful thing, and it was James’s team that triumphed in the volleyball, taking the May 2010 TP Olympics crown!

gapyear week 4 - tp olympics (1)

In the afternoon the team had been invited to have dinner with Esava and Ruci, a family in Nasauvuki village where Pa Pa Paskey and Becky Diamond lived during the January 2010 expedition. The family put on an unbelievable feast, Fijian hospitality is like no other! And the team then headed for the school where they had been invited to drink grog with the school teachers, and it was of course an opportunity for some music, with James singing along with the Fijian boys after learning the Fijian words which was immense, and of course some “hop hop”!

gap year fiji kava party

Tuesday 15th June –

This morning the team took the time to make their own bilo, the coconut cup used to drink yaqona. It is a labour of love, with the coconut being cut in half, cleaned and sanded down, and it is a great memento to take home. The afternoon was then free to relax in the village, with a few doing some hermit crab racing for entertainment. And in the evening it was of course movie night, and once again it went to the vote, with “The Time Travellers Wife” chosen!

gap year week 4 - crab catching (2)

Wednesday 16th June –

This morning Benjy, Tim, Sophie, Jason, Lucy P, Lucy L, James, Anna, Greg and Graham were up early to catch crabs in the mangroves, with one carrying the bucket whilst others scurried in the mangroves trapping the crabs. They then set the traps and were all set to come back and check them in the evening. The morning was then spent with the big fat quiz of the week, and it was “Team Its the taking part that counts” that won the day. In the afternoon it was also the final encounter for the Niubasaga rugby team vs Navuti, and with James and Ronan representing TP it was another big occasion. On the day it was a match of 10s, and Niubasaga finally got the victory we deserved with an 11-7 scoreline. The girls were also back in action on the netball court vs the Nasauvuki ladies, and after an epic battle and a huge effort they just missed out, losing 15-16. The evening was spent relaxing in the vilage after bad weather ruined hopes of a line fishing trip, being out at sea in wind and rain is not so much fun!

gapyear week 4 - village life (4)

Thursday 17th June –

With the team asking to sing a hymn in the farewell church service tomorrow evening, this morning they came together for hymn practice, with Shine Jesus Shine being chosen to be sung. In the afternoon Graham, Lucy L, Lucy P, Ronan, Tim and Benjy braved the rain to head out line fishing on the reef infront of the village, and despite all their efforts and best intentions sadly there were no bites on the line, and so they enjoyed some hot tea and Oreas in the hall to brighten spirits.

With the farewell service and feast together tomorrow night, this evening was time for the volunteers to be with their families, having food together before a few bowls of grog in their homes. The families are what make village life so very unique, and Think Pacific, and the team, owe so much to all those in the village that make the experience so special.

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Gap year fun day in Niubasaga village

Our May 2010 gap year team organised a fabulous event in Niubasaga village to celebrate the end of their project. With games, sports,  juice, face painting and competitions, the village children were almost having as much fun as our volunteers! The fun day events are a big part of every Fiji expedition, providing the local kids with a great chance to enjoy a weekend of activities and entertainment.  The highlight of the day of course; the traditional Fijian meke dances, which the team performed with perfection!