Friday, July 24, 2009

The one with all the videos ...

Above is a video of my friend Courtney (gorgeous, I know) showing a bit of a the small patch of beach (gorgeous I know) that we went to for lunch after a day of snorkeling. Wild right?! The video quality is subpar since I minimized the file size in order to try and upload it faster. And to see if I could actually upload several in one session!

The above video is of 3 of the other trainees in my host village with some of the young men in our host village performing the taivovo - the war chant done by the Fijians before rugby games, much like the haka done by the New Zealanders before their rugby games. I am not sure of the translation of what they are saying, but I believe it goes along the lines of "watch out because im going to **** your **** up" or something like it. On the left you will see Brian, then Monte in the middle, and Asa is on the end. Girls were not allowed/encouraged to do the taivovo and after watching it I can kind of see why - it may look rediculous. :) This took place at a home stay family appreciation day that our village put on. There were different performances put on by all the other villages that hosted trainees. Besides the taivovo, our village did a relay race. We each picked a partner (10 year old kid or younger in the village) and had to crack the coconut, then we each scraped a half while our partner did the other half. My partner and I smoked everyone!! I have video of that as well, but its hard to choose what to post - this one was more entertaining to me.

The final video I am going to try and upload is of my itatau. Cultural sidebar: when you enter a village you have to bring a gift called an isevusevu, which is basically a bundle of yaqona roots and there is a ceremonial giving of this gift to the village mayor (taraga ni koro/TNK). When you leave you do the itatau which is the reverse of the isevusevu. We did a village wide one with all the volunteers in my host village, and we also did individual ones with our families. My Ta (dad) here had our family come over and celebrate with me. The guy sitting on the far left leaning against the chair singing with his back is the chief of the village and also my ta levu (or uncle/big brother of my dad). Also present are several other uncles, aunts, and family. The little girl is Salote who helped me win the coconut scraping competition at our farewell ceremony. The little boy is Manasa and he is totally cute and dances with me often. The guy in the middle is the one mixing the yaqona that we are drinking. The song they are singing is called Isa Isa Lei and it is the goodbye song in which the Fijians lament the departure of their visitor and friend and hope for their return back to the village. I love it and think its amazing so I wanted to share it with you.

SCARY NEWS HERE: There has been a slight change in plans lately in terms of my site. I was informed over a week ago that it was completed. I was then told yesterday that ... NO - it's not done. It was decided after some discussion with Peace Corps staff that I would not move to my site yet and will give them a week to finish up my new home. For now I am stranded in Suva and will possibly be heading to a resort to relax at tomorrow and then Monday - Wednesday attend a marine management workshop of sorts. I do feel a little sick, though so I hope that clears up before I had to Ovalau.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

So in an attempt to give you more insight to life here, I am trying to load my first video on a Fijian slow internet computer. My videographer held the camera sideways and I dont quite know how to flip it, so just tilt your head! I am opening a coconut, which I will later scrape to get the white meat inside of it out to then squeeze into coconut milk (aka lolo) which they cook with almost everything.

I decided that part of today's blog will include some of the interesting fijian words I've learned since being here. Enjoy:
1) The word for EYEBALL is yaloka ni mata. Mata is the fijian word for EYE and yaloka is not the fijian word for ball, but the word for EGG. So our literal - egg of the eye. who wants breakfast!?
2) We will stay in the face region with the word for EYELASHES. It is bekebeka ni mata. Again we see the word for eye and beka is the word for BATS. So the literal translation here is face bats. Gives the phrase "batting your eyelashes" a whole new meaning, eh?
3) The word for hurricane is cagi laba. Cagi is the word for WIND and laba ... MURDER! So the literal translation for the word for hurricane or cyclone is wind of murder! Again, whole new meaning to hurricane season.
4) Lastly, this is just a strange one for me maybe. But in Fijian some words mean many things as they do in English. The word uto has two meanings: it is the word for breadfruit and the word for heart (as in, the thing in your chest that pumps your blood). I dont really see the similarity. Of course, the word gaga means both staring into space AND spicey/hot - but the stress is placed differently in the word. I dont know if that is the case for the breadfruit heart. I feel as though my heart is now edible.

I also thought you might enjoy learning some of the games that are really only played in Fiji - at least I dont remember playing them back home:
1) NAME THAT SMELL! Is it burning garbage? sewage of some kind? mold? or maybe even me?!
2) READ AS FAST AS YOU CAN! I have read 5 books in less than 3 weeks and am attempting to finish the second Eragon book before next week because Im borrowing it from a friend who will be wanting it back before we move to site.
3) WILL A FIJIAN MAKE ME CRY WITH THEIR HONESTY TODAY? No, I havent REALLY cried because of anything a Fijian has told me - but how long can you put up with people looking at pictures of you taken not that long ago and tell you how fat you are in the picture. How big your arms are now and how "levulevu" your belly is? And seriously - I look the same as I did when I left.
4) GUESS HOW MANY ANTS ARE IN MY MOUTHGAURD! Each night is a debate: will I put in my mouthgaurd tonight because if I do open the case - how many ants will be crawling around in it? And I clean it every time I take it out! Of course, Asa told me when he brushed his teeth once, there were ants all in his mouth before he realized that had been all over his toothbrush ... what is in our spit that they like? Anyone?
5) WHAT TO DO ON SUNDAYS!? Not much going on Sundays in the village because people aren't supposed to work and do much (kinda like Shabbat I guess). So it's a struggle to figure out what I can do on Sundays when technically I am supposed to do nothing more than go to church or scratch my ass. And I dont go to church.

I hope you all learned a little something in todays vuli (class). As far as event updates: went snorkeling last week, saw a seasnake, ate lunch on a small patch of sand in the middle of the ocean, cooked mexican food in Fiji in an iron chef style competition, won an honorable mention for my mexican burgers that I made in said competition!, final language proficiency interview on thursday, homestay family appreciation day on saturday, scavenger hunt in the capitol city of suva sometime this week too, move to my site next week!, continue to struggle with the language, and continuing to adapt to the culture which is very friendly. No word on the progress of my house - just that apparently there is progress. I think I will know more in a few days.

xoxo to all!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Set Tiko

Pictures have been added to the album so check them out! Click HERE.

So I've been to Ovalau and returned and it is such a beautiful island! I took a small plane from the eastern side of Viti Levu on a 10-15 minute flight and had one of the smoothest landings I can remember when we made it to the eastern side of Ovalau. The flight was delayed taking off for 2 hours because of the weather though - so I was definitely nervous about getting on the plane! But it was a really nice flight. Asa (the other volunteer coming to Ovalau) told me if I needed to squeeze his arm as hard as I could then I was allowed - lucky him I didnt need to because it could have been ugly! My counterpart offered to open the window of the plane so that I might throw up out of it ... lucky that wasn't necessary.

My counterpart (ICCP or inital community contact person) is really nice and his name is Inoke. When I first saw him we were all standing in the room waiting to be introduced to our ICCPs. I nudged everyone around me "hey! do you see that guy in the red bula shirt? check out that GIANT mustache!! If he is my ICCP all I will be able to do is stare at his upper lip!!" And of course who do they call forward when they are introducing me? GIANT MUSTACHE MAN! He is great though - very funny and well educated and well travelled. His wife is Australian and has lived in the village for 20 years. Amazing. My house is right next to Inoke's and he told me I would be safe because he has his M16 pointed out his window. Ha! I have 3 papaya trees in my garden as well as some eggplant. It needs some serious work though. Oh yeah, my house has not been built yet! Im a little nervous because I need a place to live. And because they are running out of time, the house is not going to be the traditional bure, but will be a tin house. He is going to paint it blue for me. I'm going to bake! I got to go snorkeling in my MPA that is nearby and it is really great - lots of fish and beautiful hard corals.

I've also got a new pet! The volunteer leaving Ovalau found some kittens and is raising them. She isnt going to take them with her when she leaves, so I am going to get one of the kittens. I have named him Simba (like the lion king) and he will help keep my house rat free! He is freaking cute! I never have been a cat person either, but I like this little guy so much already. He is in Ovalau waiting for me.

Sorry this email is more details than fun stories but they are sure to come! First of all, imagine my trying to cook anything without a microwave. Imagine me in a garden. Imagine me when I wake up in the middle of the night to find a spider crawling on my face. I hope Simba likes to eat bugs too.