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