Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Me on the shark dive ... see my shark friend behind me!?

The kids I taught at the math and science camp at the Sunshine Special School. Showing off their periscopes.

Another picture from New Zealand - Sean and I in a kayak on Milford Sound.

Group shot in NZ after the worst part of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

The pineapple upside down cake I made for tea and a movie for ladies night. Doesn't it look so good! Made on a stove! Yes, be impressed. It was quite moist and delicious.

Video from the shark dive I did on my friend's birthday - the morning after the tsunami in Japan.

Dear Loyal Followers, I am so very sorry that I have not updated this blog in some time. I have no excuse. Ok, that’s a lie – I have some excuses BUT they really don’t work because I ALWAYS have free time in which I could have been writing a blog.

OK, so with the apology out of the way, let’s get down to business. The last time I wrote, I mentioned an amazing trip to New Zealand. It was pretty wonderful. When I think back on it now, though, it feels more like a dream. Since my return from NZ, the end of my service has seemed imminent. Add to that one Jewish mother (you know who you are) and you have someone who is just a bit FREAKED OUT about the job market back home. SO – I have been applying to jobs. I have had 2 job interviews, 1 which has resulted in a standard “no thank you” email and the other is pending. To give myself a bit of credit, the “no thank you” email interview did go quite well, it was merely a timing issue. If anyone out there has any connections to an aquarium which may be interested in a marine biologist and returned Peace Corps volunteer – please … hook a girl up.

Meanwhile, work wise I actually feel like things are moving forward! Well, not the marine protected area which I came here to do … please. I have been promised progress on that for 2 years. I am no longer gullible. BUT – I did host another volunteer at my school in March for a weeklong literacy training and that went really well. And before that I assisted at a math(s) and science camp at a special school in Lautoka – a “city” on the other side of Viti Levu. That was incredibly fun and I am currently helping to make a manual out of the activities for future volunteers to be able to use. AND the world map at the school is finally in the next to last stage of completion. The map part has been complete for some time now, but it was waiting for a Peace Corps and Delana School logo and the handprints and names of all the kids who worked on it. DONE. Now it just awaits a coat of varnish to preserve all the hard work that went into it. And currently the kids are on a school break and I am trying to entertain them at the house with more than just games of go-fish and episodes of Glee. We are doing an arts and crafts activity each day which involves reusing old potential trash materials. Day 1 of break we made plastic bottle dolls using old soda bottles, pieces of cloth, and toilet paper rolls. Day 2 we made bracelets with old fishing line (aka, fishing line I bought 2 years ago when I foolishly thought I could catch my dinner on a regular basis!). Future activities include making piƱatas with old newspaper and coloring pictures of marine scenes (no recycling here – just coloring fishies!). I also plan to make them watch some BBC ocean episodes instead of Glee or other equally annoying high school style movies which they always request. So, the movies are not ALWAYS annoying, but they are because they have watched them about a million times.

Oh right – the fun stuff. COS CONFERENCE JUST HAPPENED! COS = Close of Service. It is both a noun and a verb in my little PC community. As a noun, it is the conference I just attended at the end of April where the process of leaving Fiji and the Peace Corps is gone over and my official end of Peace Corps service date is chosen – JULY 14th! (FYI: Post PC plans for travel are still being determined – requests may be made to my gmail account. J) I also learned about resume building and all the resources available to me as a former volunteer. As a verb, it is the process of leaving … as in “I will COS on July 14th” or “When do you COS?” The conference was held at a swanky hotel on the coral coast of Viti Levu. And as my brother pointed out, my definition of swanky has changed over the course of the past 2 years, but this time swanky means swanky – they put us up at the Pearl and it was glorious. After the conference most of the volunteers went up to an island off the northern coast of Viti and enjoyed what is likely our last time all together before we start to leave the country. After that, I went to the Yasawas with 2 other volunteers as the last place in Fiji I really wanted to visit. If you have the time, Google the Yasawas and you will see how BEAUTIFUL they are. I stayed at a place called Octopus and had a most relaxing 3 days reading, snorkeling, eating, and sleeping.

In conclusion, recently I have had lots of great moments and memories that make me realize how much I will miss Fiji and PC when July 14th rolls around. However, last night I had a moment when I realized how much sometimes I really just want to get the hell home. Why? Because a beetle the size of a football flew into my kitchen, knocking things off my counter willy nilly!! This is before crash landing on it’s back and flailing around like an upturned turtle. I used that opportunity to make a beeline for the door (I had been in my bed with the protective mosquito net around me while watching a movie) to try and find my neighbor – a big burly Fijian man with the world’s most bushy mustache. He wasn’t home! I couldn’t run around the village because alas I was wearing pj pants and would NOT go back to the house to get a sulu or skirt. I did grab my shoes though and creep around the house to see if I could see anyone in the distance. And to my luck, it was women’s night for church and so I saw my friend Radini and waved her out and she valiantly came to my assistance and squashed the still flailing monster. Is that all? NO! I also encountered a giant moth, giant spider, 2 frogs, and another beetle clinging to the outside of my mosquito net. I shut myself inside the net, put my headphones on, and tried to rock myself to sleep so that I could wake up in the daytime.