Video of the completed community hall!!
Yes yes yes … it has been a long time, but … ok, no buts – I have very little excuse. I’m sorry.
I decided that it was time for a short blurb about transportation here in Fiji. In particular – transportation on Ovalau and on/off Ovalau. I wholeheartedly believe that after hearing this you will ALL appreciate the ease of travel in the states. On Ovalau, there are no buses. Ok – that’s a lie – there are 2 buses. BUT – 1 of these buses is used only on the ferry to the island and only arrives on Ovalau around 6pm and then leaves promptly the next morning at 6am. The other bus is a school bus for the kids taking them from the Levuka town to a secondary school only 20 minutes to the north. When I ride this bus home from town I still have a 20 minute walk to my village. Then it returns to Levuka town, picks up kids going south and then travels about 45 minutes around the southern part of the island. Normal transport for me on Ovalau is via carrier truck – pickup trucks that have been fitted with benches in the back and covers made of tarp that arch over the truck bed. There are small AND large carrier trucks. Some of these trucks are reliable. The one in my village is not. Now, in order to get off of Ovalau, things get trickier. I have to wake up at 3am to be ready by the road at 330am. There is a carrier that will come from one of the villages to the northwest of mine at 4am, but has been known to come earlier; therefore I must arrive 30-45 minutes before the truck usually comes. I have missed this truck before, thus making this part of the trip the most stressful for me. The truck takes me to Levuka and then I jump on that ferry bus I was telling you about. It leaves town at 5am to drive an hour to Buresala wharf on the other side of the island. The bus boards the ferry then leaves Ovalau around 6am, goes for about 1-1.5 hours to Natovi wharf on the main island. Bus leaves the boat and drives 2 hours to Suva capital. The reverse happens if I want to return to Ovalau, leaving Suva at 12-1pm – a much more reasonable time. The alternative is to fly on and off the island which is much more costly. The ferry gets me from my village to Suva for 25 FJD (about 12.50USD). The flight has gone up in price from 88FJD to 110FJD to recently 206FJD ONE WAY (this does not include taxi fares from my village to the airport on the other side of the island). It is a 10 minute flight aboard an 8 passenger plane. These flights used to run 3 times a day every day. Just this week I have learned they changed to 3 flights A WEEK using an 18 passenger plane. Wow – the feeling of isolation just keeps going up, doesn’t it?
In other news, the community hall is complete!! I am including a video in this post (hopefully) of a tour of the completely refurbished hall and would like to thank everyone again for their help with project donations. The community did a great job getting the work done in a timely fashion. Other projects in the village that I am trying to complete include a waste management system using trash cans to help separate the waste to dispose of it better. The school term is over so I anticipate children visiting and I hope to do some more marine education. My world map project at the school is 99% finished – I just have to go back while the kids are gone to paint back over the ocean where the gridlines I used to draw the map can still be seen. I would also like to get moving on my crown of thorns removal project now that I am done teaching for a while.
Last week I went to Suva and had a really nice time for Thanksgiving with other volunteers. We had a big potluck dinner at the country director’s house and I made mac-n-cheese with the help of my mom and brother from overseas; I finally learned how to make cheese sauce. I also celebrated my birthday with my fellow volunteers and it was great – sushi lunch, Harry Potter 7 movie, dancing, and midnight McD’s. My friend Courtney even gave me a tiara to wear out. Unfortunately, after the celebrations, many of us got stuck in Suva because of a tropical depression causing rough seas and flooded roads. I returned 3 days after I was scheduled too. Back at my house, I found lots of dust and my bar of soap completely gone – the resident rodent had eaten it all. I did return from Suva, though, refreshed and with a new thing of treasured Kraft parmesan cheese – 20 bucks a tub, but highly valued among volunteers.
Another fun list: things I hear go bump in the night. I can figure out what almost every noise is that I hear in the night time. Frogs hopping along my floor, gecko poop falling from the ceiling and hitting the mats, rustling palm fronds in the wind, the waves crashing on the beach, gecko chirping, scuttling of bugs, buzzing of mosquitoes, dogs fighting, cats shmexing, frogs bumping into the tin walls of my house from outside, rustling in my roof, squeaking that COULD be a rodent of some kind, hermit crabs scuttling across the coral rubble of my floor. I’m sure there are more but I can’t think of them right now – in the light of day.
I am going to try and load some other videos and possibly photos onto this blog – I apologize if the internet is unable to accomplish such a difficult task for Fiji’s network capabilities.