In true Lion King style we stepped, blinking, into the hot Fijian sun over Vione as our troop of boats sped through the Mangroves and we got our first view of our new home. Since that moment we have become truly immersed in the life and culture of our new found families. It’s hard to put in writing just how different the Fijian way of life is to our hard, cynical British mentalities but the notion of ‘keri-keri’ or the idea that everything is shared is a decent way of summarising their truly spectacular attitudes towards community and human life in itself. It’s impossible to walk through the village without being offered at least a cup of tea, at most a place to sleep and a membership to the clan. Although there was some fear that we could not sustain our rather hefty appetites, this apprehension was immediately diminished as we realised Fijians loved their food. Were it not for the sweltering heat and hard work we’ve been putting into our building and playing, the breakfast, 11s, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner would quickly lead to us obtaining some seriously comically-round figures.
It did not take long, however, for certain members of the gang to quickly lower the tone with some seriously mis-judged haircuts. From Jake’s simple ‘Mr-T’ to Callum’s slightly more conspicuous ‘T-P’ etched into the side of his head we caused a stir with our mass-hairdressing in the centre of the village. Other highlights of the week included our first experience of Fijian ‘hop-hop’. The men particularly enjoyed sweeping the girls off their feet for some brilliantly old-school dance moves. As exhausting as the dancing was, it had nothing on our games of leap frog and duck, duck goose. Playing with the children and teaching them our favourite games was a definite experience and quickly made us realise we would need all the energy of the Duracell bunny to keep up with these kids. Preceding our afternoons at the school were mornings filled with the start of our building project. So far we’ve been counting and moving the timber, mixing and setting the concrete and generally just giving shape to our future community hall.
On our first free day off, most of us got stuck into our first Fijian fishing experience. It may have started with nets and hooks but the spear guns and snorkels were quickly deployed and we found out Fijian fishing was done slightly differently. Although judging by the amount we caught we may still need some practice. While we definitely returned to the village fairly toasted, it was a good first free day out and we look forward to many more to come, not to mention our first proper week getting stuck in at the school, Kindi, the House Cup activities and the upcoming sports.