April 09, 2002
The Colonel's Back in Town...

The streets of Suva are buzzing and there is more excitement in the air this week that any other time that I've been here. Why?...you may ask...well the Colonel has just arrived in Fiji. That is right Colonel Sanders and his army of genetically engineered chickens have arrived. Now I must admit that I was mildly excited about KFC coming to town. Given my current eating situation (I ate 4 different eggplant dishes in the last 3 days) any kind of "Western" food is a comfort. I still refuse to eat at the McDonalds and I have been feeling my strength dwindeling and the temptation of a Big Mac increasing. I figured that KFC would allow me a small dose of the greasy fast food I crave. Unfortunately the arrival of fried chicken has bred sheer chaos...the restaurant is completely full at ALL times and sometimes has police/security guards working crowd control. I am unwilling to wait for an hour for what I know to be shitty, greasy chicken...so it looks like more eggplant for me. As a side note I have found 110 recipes for eggplant...so at least I may get variety!

On Monday morning I left with my Plant Biology class to a village near Lautoka called Abacas. The goal of the trip was to study as many different kinds of forest as possible. This was my first real time to hang out with just Islanders, without the company of my partner in crime Erika. It turned out to be an absolute blast and a half. In order to get up to the village we needed to ride in the cabs of trucks on little make-shift benches, covered with tarp. Everyone kept insisting that I sit in the front of the truck, but after finally convincing them that a ride in the back wouldn't cause me to break into a bizillion pieces I got to join them. It was nostalgic of elementary when you see how high you can jump out of the seat on each individual bump. When we arrived at the village I grouped up with 3 Fijians and we were given the main house to sleep in. Basically this means that there was room on the bamboo mat in that house. We were initially very pleased with our prestigious accomadations...but eventually we would regret our excitement. First thing we did was go to the river to have a "bath/shower". According to Fijian culture the girls and boys cannot bathe together (which is sort of a more obvious rule). So all the girls and the gay men (which there are quite a few of) went to the bottom of the river and the men went to the top. Thinking that since the boys were out of sight we could wash in out swimsuits/bikinis/underwear...I soon learned I was sadly mistaken. As the men run around in their underwear we need to wear a sulu...just imagine showering in a dress and you might be able to understand the uncomfortableness of the situation. Post bath we got a lovely dinner (of eggplant) and than had a grog (kava) ceremony. I have sat in a few kava ceremonies, but they were all with older people and this was all people my own age. Needless to say I feel that I was definetly "picked on" as it seemed that the kava bowl was coming to me more often than not. The kava ceremony also took place in the main house (where I was sleeping) so there was no sleeping no matter what. After I consumed what I am sure amounts to 4 litres of grog, doped out (for lack of a better term) and exhausted I staggered to bed. Everyone in the village was highly concerned because it was 25 degrees and they thought I was col...it took a lot of convincing before they accepted that if anything I would be hot. Despite this at 1 am one of the guys in my class found a blanket for me which instantly gave me flashbacks of Kailyn tucking me into bed when I came home too tired to turn my lights off.

The next day we awoke early to set off on our trek up Fiji's tallest peak. The hike up took 4 hours and we left SEVERAL casualties along the way (mainly people who couldn't keep climbing). I did Canada proud as the hike was really not that difficult and quite small by Canadian standards. The only real difference was that it was 32 degrees with 98% humidity which makes it a little less comfortable. The top provided for an amazing view of the Western side of Fiji and some of the Yasawa islands. The trek downwards was much more difficult in my opinion as the path was insanely muddy. I heeded the advice of my mother from when I was little and slid most of the way crouched down. Everyone else thought this was wildly inventive and intelligent and followed suit. It turned out to be amazingly amusing as you could actually slide on your feet for almost 20 m before having to get up.

Now I am back in Suva after a 6 hour bus ride. I am the most tired I have been since my arrival and am on the brink of tears because of this exhaustion. Due to this fact I am leaving you early with an entry that I'm sure is filled with grammatical errors, but a breakdown in the computer lab would be bad so...Bonne Nuit!

Posted by Sierra at April 09, 2002 04:24 AM

Don't worry whitey, all the foreigners always get picked on with the alcoholic beverages. I had to drink an awful lot of Sake in Japan... ah, memories of my green sister on the flight home!

Posted by: Bug girl-Kathy on April 9, 2002 08:13 AM

Bula girl, sounds like another exciting adventure! Just wanted to let you know I haven't forgot about you, just busy with finals....ugh. I got your letter yesterday, thanks! I'll be writing you soon enough! later skater

Posted by: Princess TikiTiki on April 9, 2002 11:27 AM

I can relate to your back of the truck story - about two days ago Karen (my Spanish guide and interpretor) and I were looking for a ride from Remedios to Santa Clara (about 40km) There's a lot of confusion in Cuba about what the tourists can and can't do. Apparently tourists can't take a 'collectivo' which is a taxi for the locals (because it's too cheap) since they're looking to pump the maximum American dollars out of the tourist. In fact there are places where the locals pay in pesos and the tourists pay dollars (one dollar is 25 pesos) so we pay 25X. This time we negotiated a fee of $3 each while the locals paid about 10 pesos. This cab was really a small truck with a front and back seat plus a small jump seat in the back which had been kind of added to the car/truck. When we walked up the driver was asking the locals to move out of the rear seats so we could sit there. I said non, non (Note - one of my two Spanish words the other being gracious as in 'non gracious') that we could sit in the back. So we jam in the back with our packs and I'm sitting my 6'3" in a 5'5" roof. The rear end bounced a lot and as with all Cuban cars there were a lot of exhaust fumes but we survived. I gues you could say that we were exhausted by the end of the trip but somehow managed to bounce back.

Posted by: DAD on April 9, 2002 01:33 PM

After reading your dad's comment it reminded me of the time we went to the canada soccer game and your dad made fun of you saying "i'm sierra, i wear a sweatshirt to absorb the rain" You learned a lesson that day. A side note being i received your letter, thanks for that, much appreciated. Sounds like you're having fun, the fresh fish does exist you just have to get in a van with a dealer to find it. Another note, I want to kill Pauly Shore, later.

Posted by: StEpHeN on April 9, 2002 04:09 PM

Honey, this is the first entry in which I have been truly envious of your experience. A genuine Fijian experience.

Reminds me of a troup of travellers having come across the Saharan desert to the Senagalese border. After 4 days of lorries and empty coal cars, each orifice of our body was filled with fine red Saharan sand, red hair, red skin. The immigration officers said we were not allowed in the country without a bath and directed us to the river. Although all the native women were bathing au natural, as soon as I slipped a strap down I felt the curious looks of every African man present.(WHITE WOMAN) Opted to bathe fully clothed and that was acceptable to Immigration so we were allowed to cross into "civilization", looking clean and civil.

Later on the 2 guys and myself found ourselves in a shelter with one bed draped by mosquito netting. We decided to "draw straws" for the netted bed and I lost.(translation - I got the floor) The guys, however, could not bear to have a girl on the floor and despite my protestation (Hey-I'm a camper) - insisted I take the bed.

That was 1970. Seems less likely today. Survey - how many of you new generation guys would pretend such chivalry today?

PS - sharing the bed was NOT AN OPTION.

Posted by: MOM on April 10, 2002 05:05 PM

Resist. Do not go to KFC. It is food of the enemy there to weaken and compromise your spirit. Don't strengthen multinational, imperialist corporations designed to profit off the ill health of their sorry victims.

Freedom or fat.

Hasta la Victoria, siempre.


Posted by: CHE on April 10, 2002 05:13 PM

Eggplant - food of the revolution.

Hasta la Victoria, siempre

Posted by: Compay on April 10, 2002 05:17 PM

Got your letter today, Sierra! I'll get right to writing back since i have several days until my next set of killer exams...


Posted by: Sauerkraut on April 10, 2002 10:11 PM

Thanks Steve for the good memories. Yesterday I wore a white shirt to absorb the rain...I learned another important lesson.

Posted by: Sierra on April 15, 2002 03:58 AM
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