Bula! We’re halfway through our time on Batiki island and not a single one of us can believe how fast it has all gone. What I’m finding most breath taking is not just the scenery, the people, and the culture but the experiences I would never have dreamed of if it wasn’t for being here and experiencing it first hand. These activities vary from the small things, like using a bucket as a shower to the bigger activitites. Such as trekking around the whole island, stopping at each village for a sevu sevu, and having a picnic on the most beautiful beach on the island on the way home.
Washing my own clothes in a big basin with my Fijian mum and my four Think Pacific sisters, Emily, Harriette, Rachel and Hannah, has been a learning curve. It is the first reason to make me appreiciate home, my washing machine and my mum! Reason number two is the bucket showers. They’re fairly cold in the mornings but just what we need after a long day on the build and coaching sports to the energetic school children. Other new exciting activities inlcude: weaving mats- confusing but addictive. Fan and braclet making- similar to mats but smaller! These are all made from coconut leaves which have been trimmed, cooked and dryed in the sun. An unforgettable experience was when we had pork in Week 3 (on Batiki) for the church meeting. It was a welcome change from fish, although some of us struggled as we’d seen it slaughtered and even helped butcher it the day before.
This week and last I’ve been helping in Kindi with 5 other Think Pacific friends and Frances: the Kindi teacher. It’s been challenging keeping 10 or so 4 year olds under control with a language barrier. But when I see them walking home along the beach holding hands and singing songs we had taught them from home (my ‘Little Green Frog’ has proven very popular! it makes it all worthwhile!
Other than the little things like sunsets, the amazingly clear starry night sky, being silly with our Fijian brothers and sisters, walking along the beach, speaking simple bits of the Fijian language with the locals, singing and hop-hoping in the grog hall, and sharing skills with the rest of the Think Pacific team, one big opportunity I’ve had and will always cherish is Night Spear Fishing. I was lucky enough to be in the first group to go out. Rachel, Matt, Euan and myself were all in awe when we finished of the specialty of this experience.
We got to witness first hand the talent of the Fijian fishermen, diving down into the coral and shooting many fish with the spear gun in one hand and torch in the other. Rachel and I were following our Fijian dad, Tuemasi. When he dived down to get some fish for our dinner, we watched from the top of the water in the safety of our snorkels! We even swam with a reef shark for a while! A particular highlight for me. What made this night even more unforgettable was the bonfire and the barbequed fresh fish on the way home. That’s the closest to fresh I think I will ever get! What an unbelievable and magical experience. From small, everyday things, to larger once in a lifetime opportunities I know I will never forget any of this. I will treasure it as long as I live, using helpful skills I’ve learnt along the way throughout my life. Fiji is a truly amazing place and I’m having the time of my life.