Posts Tagged ‘gap year stories’
Bula from Fiji everyone!
Having such an amazing time, can’t believe we’re in our 3rd week in the village already! For the last 2 weeks I was teaching class 3 in school (8 years old). For the first few days there was no teacher so it was just me and they were so noisy and such hard work. Nothing like being thrown in the deep end! At the end of the 2 weeks we had a fun day and mine and Tom’s classes (3 and 4) performed Noah’s ark to the rest of the school complete with animal masks and the song ‘The animals came in two by two…’ It certainly wasn’t the West End but it wasn’t bad!
For the next 2 weeks I’m on the build which is really hard work in the heat! We’re all going to have one huge arm and one small arm from hammering so many nails! Mine always seem to go in wonky though and I have to start again! Food is usually pretty good: breakfast is definitely my favourite meal! We have something different everyday: scones, bread rolls, banana cake, pancakes, doughnut like things and lots of other cake/bread-like things! My family has so many bananas at the moment so it’s often banana pancakes which are lovely. My favourite other meals have been stir fry with carrots, beans and cucumber and tuna sandwiches with tinned tuna and homemade bread!
It has rained a ridiculous amount since we’ve been here and when it does it seriously rains – like a proper monsoon. We’re supposed to be just heading into the dry season but I’m not convinced yet!
Evenings often consist of grog and hop hop which is always such a fun evening just sitting with the village and the rest of the team drinking and dancing. The main English songs they know are ‘Sweet Caroline’ and ‘Hey soul sister’ so we hear those a lot! I’ve normally managed to make it into the last 3 or 4 of the team left at hop hop when most others have gone to bed which I’m rather proud of!
Last Saturday we had a fancy dress party with a tribal theme so our families really went to town on it and made costumes out of leaves and other plants – then we had to try and dance in our costumes!
Everyone one is so kind and friendly – you walk into someone’s house and within seconds you have a cup of tea and a banana or a biscuit in front of you! They love tea here and its pretty good so anyone worrying I may get withdrawal symptoms can stop now! I’ll probably come home twice the size I left!
One of the best things we’ve done so far is walk along the beach in the dark from Nasesara to Navutu (the next village) to pay our $1 and watch the Royal wedding on a tiny TV with most of the team and loads of Fijians. Such and amazing setting and atmosphere – I will forever remember where I was when William and Kate got married!
Anyway, I’m loving it so don’t worry about me, I’ll try and be in touch where I can. Hope everything/everyone is okay at home, missing you all, Lots of love Sarah xxxxx
So here we are, end of week three and the end of another brilliant week here in Uluibau and what a week it’s been!
We had rain and wind blasting through the village for most of the week postponing many of our activities such as sports with the kids after school and mat weaving too. Our trek at Ruku Ruku is now postponed to Saturday week 5 because the route would have been too treacherous. The build had the roofing started on Tuesday which meant a celebration in the village that evening with the traditional drink kava and hop-hop (or dancing) all round.
There are four clans in Uluibau and it was my clan’s turn to host the kava night on Tuesday so I was nominated spokesperson for “talo” (serve) meaning I said when the next round of Cava was to be drunk and then me and a few others in the team served the Cava to the village. This was a sincerely humbling moment for me, serving a village in a ceremony so key to their way of life and being fully accepted in doing so. Tuesday night is usually film night so we pushed that through to Wednesday and sat down to watch Secret Window with some of the villagers, I quite enjoyed it but I’m not sure it was well received across the board. Thursday night was quiz night were team “It’s better if you do it like this Maurice” won by a massive margin of 9 points.
This week I started on my two week build rota wich has been more than enjoyable. Working on the roof and climbing rafters to fix strapping to purlines and then seeing the roof go on. Wednesday saw the rain come down so we started the flooring and working in “pods” was the name of the game for the rest of the week because of the wet weather. Friday saw the assembly of A-pod. The flooring team extraordinaire that consisted of Will, Ray (Tom Weeks), America (Ellie) and myself. Our flooring was second to none, the perfect selection of flooring pieces and our chiselling, wedging and nailing meant that gaps between pieces were none existent, tis was until pseudo A-pod took over and left a gap big enough to swallow up the ratu if he’s not careful but Jack, our one man wrecking ball and foreman of the site, will soon fix it with his immense forearms and brute strength.
Friday saw the weather subside enough for some sports in the afternoon and I joined in with the lad’s rugby training which concluded with a game of full contact rugby sevens and yes Sean I played, and played well, apparently… I scored at least!
Last Saturday after a trip to Levuka we had a fancy dress evening with the team which was “T.P themed” meaning we could dress up as anything beginning with T or P. We had a Pinocchio, Teenange muTanT ninja Turtle, Pirates, The Prince of Persia, Three Packs of cards, Two Presents, Peter Pan, Tinkerbell and Tiger lilly buT whilsT The Party was geTTing sTarTed, across the Playing field came a Twinkling Pair which PerPlexed The Team somewhat buT as They Tip Toed closer iT became aPParenT That iT was ali and myself dressed as Twin Performing Tin PeoPle ToPPing The use of T’s and P’s sTarTing the name of our costume. (if you think your computer’s gone awol with all the Ts and Ps capitalising, I was actually keeping myself amused by keeping this bit of the blog in the T.P theme… sorry)
Week three has seen many highs for the team and for me personally and although I am feeling well integrated into the team and village I have started to get a little home sick. Thinking about home and all the things I miss having has started to take its toll but it’s all a part of the experience and just something I’ll have to get over.
I’m looking forward to continuing the build and starting on the Joseph project on Friday!
An awesome experience and an awesome time.
So, the build is finished and the hall is completed. Nine weeks work has come to an end. It really doesn’t feel like we’ll be leaving in six days. Perhaps it’s just denial; I can safely say that none of the team wants to leave in six days time. I think for most of us yesterday signalled the beginning of the end. The fun day started with an unexpected and emotional meeting with the elders in which thank yous were said and speeches were made. This was followed by the grand opening of the hall. The village has spent all morning putting in mats, curtains, a few pot plants and decorating the entrance with palm leaves and balloons. As we were walking in I turned to Steve ‘wouldn’t it be funny if one of the balloons pops as they’re all walking in’. (Bear in mind a slight loud noise causes any Fijian to first jump and then yell ‘oh!’ at the top of their voice, providing an amusing spectacle. Sure enough, as we sit down we suddenly hear a loud bang outside followed by a sudden wave of panic lasting approximately one second then an ensuing chuckle at the realisation it was just a balloon popping.
After this came the opening of our stalls and the commencement of the fun day. I was in charge of the cracker and cinnamon challenge with Fi, which was good fun although several of the Fijians failed to get the point of trying to swallow a teaspoon of cinnamon, saying that it tastes unpleasant and is really dry in your mouth; prompting Harry to respond ‘hence the challenge’. In the evening we all went back to the hall. At one point Master Mika asked if each volunteer could stand up and say a few of their highlights and things they were going to miss, triggering a moving 15 minutes in which we tried to get across how much their friendship, hospitality and kindness mean to us. A quick group dinner at Esavas (Becky and Paskys) and the night was finished off by a long grog session.
On a different note, my name is no longer Sam, nor Samu, nor Wilkinson. I am now known simply as Turani. (The town-spokesperson happens to be my ‘namesake’). The sheer mention of this name sends the Fijians into fits of hysterics and prompts the questions ‘you have a bald head, yes?’ Even as I write this I can hear the wonderful sound that is Fijian laughter, a sound that we kaivalagis (literally means white person) have become more and more accustomed to these past 9 weeks. Jesse is floating past in his boat outside, Agu has just come in to the Bure to say thank you for the hall and there’s currently a battle going on between Steve and Esoa to decide who doesn’t get to sit in the chair, as Esoa is too polite to let Steve sit on the floor. That’s the thing: wherever you are in Nasavuki, there are always people who want to come and say hi and just spend some time with you. It really has become our home away from home. I’m going to miss that buzz when I wake up each morning and walk to the shed and every single person you see is smiling and saying good morning to you. That’s what’s so unique about life here, everyone knows everyone; without wanting to sound cheesy, it is one big family. And it’s a family I’m certainly going to miss.
PS Steve has just won his battle with Esoa and is currently basking in his glory on the floor.