So, it has been almost one month since arriving in Fiji and already I’ve done more out of the box activities than I would have done in 1 year back home. Who is ready for a list of things you never pictured this Jewish princess doing? Let’s just dive right in shall we?
· Hand washing my clothes! I soaked and then rubbed them with a GIANT bar of soap and scrubbed them on a board made of wood. Soak, rub, scrub, squeeze, rinse, squeeze, hang, wait. I cannot see my clothes lasting 2 years with this cleaning method. There is already a hole in a pair of unmentionables.
· Making jam!!! That’s right, I made jam. During a site visit to current Peace Corps volunteer (PCV) she took us for a nice walk/hike into the woods where she climbed a tree and we collected “Fijian Cherries” off the ground and from the tree. Let’s call them Schnozberries. Then she taught us how to turn those schnozberries into jam – boil, strain, boil, add equal parts sugar to strained berries. Turned out good! I gave the bottle I got to my Na (Fijian mom). She was very excited.
· Beekeeper. I went to a local school in the town nearby where a current PCV is working and got to put on a beekeeping outfit and check out the “hives” (boxes of bees). It was pretty cool feeling invincible in the outfits, except that right as we were walking to where the bees were, the guy said “the suit doesn’t completely protect you, if you get stung and can’t stand the pain, back away slowly or else they will attack.” Yay. But at the end of the day, after all the groups went to see the bees, he brought back one of those slabs filled with honey and we all just dug right in. I felt some guilt stealing all the hard work from the bees, but it was so tasty and delicious the sugar high from the gallon of honey I sucked out of that thing made the guilt disappear. I wanted some apples and no one understood why. Anyone like to hazard a guess?
· Carve a coconut cup. After cracking open a coconut, I scraped out the innards to use for food and then continued to clean out the shell to make it smooth(er) and then had to bury it in a drainage ditch to make it turn black from the sulfur. This brings us to the next bullet of things you never thought I would do …
· Dig in a ditch of mucky crappy grossness trying to find half of a coconut shell. My bilo (Fijian word for cup, so these coconut halves are referred to as bilo ni yaqona or cup for drinking Kava) went missing for a while, but was found later in the night by someone with a shovel who dug it out for me after I gave up. The head of our village (Turaga ni Koro, TNK) stopped by to give me the news about how it was found and then to laugh at me because it smelled soooo bad that one of the trainees said he would not be caught dead drinking from my bilo. I am going to give it to my Ta anyway – he doesn’t have to drink from it. PS: I scrubbed the crap out of it so it smells muuuuch better. And rubbed coconut oil on it to make it smooth and shiny.
· Cooked food in an earth oven called a lovo. It tastes like grilled food because there is that distinct charcoal taste to it. I don’t LOVE lovo food because I don’t usually eat lots of grilled stuff. But it is tasty. I helped wrap a fish with coconut milk concoction in some leaves. Crazy huh? I wrapped up a very liquidy … liquid … in leaves and it stayed in, then put them on red hot rocks to cook. Neato.
Lately the language has been a little frustrating for me. I already feel like I am picking it up a little slower than the rest of my group, but a couple days ago I would have given anything to be able to snap my finger and change the Fijian language! In terms of pronouns, there are … almost 15 or so. Not just I, You, He/She/It/We/Us/Them kind of pronouns. But there are specific ones that are for 1st person including the listener and 1st person excluding the listener, 2nd and 3rd person. AND as far as singular and plural – try singular, a group of 2 people, a group of 3-5 people, and a group of over 5 people. AHH! Then with family relationships you have different names for your cousins depending on whether they are the children of a sibling of the same sex as your parent or the opposite sex. Then even that is different with your mom and your dad. And there are different names for your siblings depending on if they are the same sex or opposite sex. Then within the “opposite sex” grouping, different names depending on if they are older or younger! Phew – talk about a look into the Fijian culture. It’s interesting but difficult to pick up as quickly as I’d like.
That about wraps up this week’s episode of “Juliana goes to Fiji”. Hope to hear from people. I’ve gotten to contact a couple of you guys and it’s been really nice!! Try using Skype to my cell. I can’t do computer to computer skype yet because I am using internet café computers without microphones and speakers.
Again, I am going to try and post pictures, but I can’t promise anything.