Sorry it’s been so long, things have been pretty crazy here in our tropical paradise. First things first – one of the first things I did when I got to Fiji was change my name. The Fijians don’t have ‘C’s or short ‘A’s or ‘M’s, so Cami was obviously difficult, nay, impossible to pronounce. So, I decided to try Candy, because it rhymes with Nadi (pronounced Nandi), a big city in Fiji. That didn’t work out either, BUT it led to Andi. Andi in Fijian means Village Queen, and the village people LOVE that my name is Andi! It’s the only Fijian name among our group, so everyone remembers it and I’ll be wakling down the street and hear ‘Andi!’ ‘Andi!’ ‘Andi!’ from all of the kids that see me. It’s so fun!
Nate goes by Nadani now, and people remember that pretty well too.
Now, a story about my friend Sabe. Sabe is a wild little 3 year old Fijian boy, who has 6 toes on his left foot. He runs around with machetes, shovels, sticks, rocks – basically a typical 3 year old, but a little less supervised. Anyway, we were shoveling clay next to his house one day, when he came next to us and started throwing rocks into a pig pond. The mud around the pond is very slippery (I’m still a little skeptical that it’s actually mud and not pig feces) and after one particularly large rock, Sabe just slipped in. There were about 5 of us shoveling clay, and no one noticed Sabe go in but me (Cami…aka, Andi). I said, ‘Can he swim?’, watched for about 5 seconds until it was clear that, no, he could not, and went sprinting the 50 feet to where he had fallen in. It was super muddy and slippery and gross, but I made it to him and pulled him up and out. That water smelled so bad, and afterward I was a little worried about diseases, or swine flu, but nothing happened, and Sabe lived!
One thing that hasn’t survived Fiji though, is our favorite little camera. Yesterday we went to a rugby game about 45 minutes away and stopped for dinner on the way home. We got home and 7:30, about an hour after dark and immediately noticed that one girl’s computer was missing. Upon immediate further investigation, it was clear that our house had been broken into, rumaged through, and robbed. Luckily, no one was home, so no one got hurt, but unluckily some stuff got stolen. Mostly electronics – 3 lap tops, our flip video camera that Aunt Kristin gave me for our wedding, some DVDs, some speakers, one passport, some bags… Nate was worried that he couldn’t find his leatherman knife, but don’t worry, we found it. (He’s still traumatized from getting his last leatherman stolen on his mission). All of our windows have bars, but there is one window where the bars are a little more spread out. We called the police and they didn’t think someone could have fit through, so I climbed through the bars and the window just to prove it could be done. We had more bars put on it today.
Anyway, that’s why there aren’t any pictures today, and might not be before we come back to America. Since we can’t upload them to a flash drive on our computer at home.
I guess I can update on what we’ve been doing with our time. We work 8 hours a day doing various projects. Everyone is in charge of one project, but we help with others. We teach people to build safe stoves, plant efficient gardens, hold health and business classes, teach some basic construction, have sanitation lessons, and help out in the hospital. I help in the hospital coordinating public health days, and teach health classes on women’s health (family planning, pregancy, pre and post natal care, menstrual health, osteoporosis, breast cancer, etc.) Nate works with both gardens and stoves, and teaches health classes about non-communicable diseases and prevention.
This week we went to the innermost villages of Fiji (Nate and I, with the village doctor) to teach lessons on the dangers of smoking tobacco. While we were there, the Vice President of Fiji was visiting a hydroelectric dam project up in that area, and we were able to meet him. It was a very bizarre encounter. We were wearing ministry of health T-Shirts which normally say HIV/Aids awareness, however ours say World No Tobacco Day. He looked at the shirts and said, “where’s your condom?” Of course, I thought I had misunderstood, but I had no idea what he had meant to say. He then proceeded to take from his SHIRT POCKET a condom and held it up in the air above us and said, HIV/AIDS! Both of us were kind of in shock, and didn’t know what to do- we were SO confused. Then, the doctor said, NO, it’s NO TOBACCO Day! IT was so funny.
Last weekend we went to Pacific Harbor and stayed at a beautiful resort and went on the waverunners and played on the beach for hours. The food was SO good (the thing I miss most about America – without question, edible food), and while there wasn’t hot water (2nd most missed thing), the showers were really clean and nice. We also went to Suva and stayed with a member, and had Pizza Hut, KFC, and went to a handicraft market, which was really fun.
This weekend we hung out around Tavua, except for the Rugby game, and today (Saturday) we hiked up a river that had BEAUTIFUL clear pools and small waterfalls for about at hour and had a picnic. It was so nice and we got to go swimming and everything was lovely.
Nate’s still slowly finishing his last application for medical school. It’s a long and painful process since the computers here are so slow, but he’s doing it little by little. We’re getting excited for our trip to Australia, and thinking about maybe going to another island next weekend for Nate’s birthday (June 7 – Happy birthday also to Rachel Robinson and Hannah V.). (Also, Glen Barney this week, although he did make a sarcastic comment on our last post… 😉 ) ALso, Happy 26 Anniversary to my MOm and Dad this week, sorry to not send a card. Also, welcome home to Jason Taylor, from Russia! Yay!
OK, I think that’s all. Everything closes in this town at 5, so we’ve got to hurry and go buy our bread for this weekend, and also some dinner. Love you all!
Cami and Nate
P.S… next time on Adventures in Fiji… World No Tobacco Day Celebration!