April 15, 2002
I can't seem to shut my mouth...no really I can't

I realize that the title for this week's entry is a phrase that has often been used to describe me...however, this is one of the few opportunities that I have to use it in a completely non-figurative manner. The jaw problems that I had thought long gone, seem to have resurfaced and I am completely unable to close my mouth. This is actually quite painful and the pain is magnified each time I try to explain the problem and burst out into a uncontrolled fit of giggles. The giggles become quickly intermingled with cries of pain, which of course intensify the hilarious nature of the situation and only prolong the agony. This however, is not an important part of my life, nor an exceedingly interesting bit of information, so I will move on without further hesitation.

Following Tuesday night's entry I set sail on yet another "Field Trip". This one took place on an island called Draveuni located in the Kadavu group on the Southern side of Fiji. The field trip was for my Marine Biology class and was to take place over the span of 4 days. We arrived at the USP Jetty at 9:30 am, as previously instructed and were subject, once again, to the wonders of Fiji Time when our boat finally pulled in at approximately noon. The boat ride was four and a half hours and was an absolute blast. I was quite tired, so after a few hours on the top deck listening to music and hanging out, I made my way onto the lower deck in order to sleep in the sun. I found a nice little freezer to rest on and a very kind guy from my class assured me that he would sit beside me to make sure that I didn't fall off the boat (this was quite nice as I did have some concern since there wasn't anything to stop me from rocking right off). We arrived onto the small island close to five o'clock and following Fijian custom were not allowed to do anything until after a Sevusevu ceremony (where we give the Kava to the Chief and ask permission to use the beach/sand/sea). So we dined on a lovely meal of barbacued lamb chops and played cards until ceremony time. I enjoy Kava as much as the next guy, but the thought of going through another grog session was less than exciting. Never the less, we went to the Village, presented our Kava and drank a few bowls of Grog...although not enough to elicit any great effect.

The next day was our first "work day". By work I mean that we had to do one 100 meter transect of the coral reef. This takes all of an hour and a half and the rest of the day was free. We did a whole lot of swimming, playing volleyball, reading and even managed time to climb the one and only mountain on the island (which was exceedingly small). The next day was pretty much the same thing except that we took a boat out to another island nearby. I'm not sure if Canada has it right now, but apparently there is a show called "Shipwrecked" on the air right now. Anyways, we headed towards the island that the television program was filmed on. Frankly I don't think it would be all that difficult to survive a month or two on the island. If that program doesn't exist in North America disregard the earlier few sentences. The highlight of this paritcular activity occured after we had finished the actual work and were just snorkelling around waiting for the boat to pick us back up. It was almost 1 o'clock and a bunch of people were getting hungry, so a couple of the boys just dove into the water, picked up a couple of Giant Clams and cut them up. We all sat on a giant piece of Brain Coral (around 10 people could sit comfortably on top of it) and ate raw clam. Certain parts of the mollusc can't be eaten raw, so they were brought back to the village later on and cooked in garlic and lemon (yummy). It was definetly an interesting experience, although I haven't decided what my feelings towards raw clam are.

That night we had another Kava ceremony in order to thank the Village for letting us stay there. This one was more of a talent show and each group of us were expected to present something. Erika and I decided that singing "The Bear Song" (the other day...I met a bear...I great big bear...etc...) was a good plan and we led the Fijians in a rousing version of the camp favorite. (By rousing I mean that that Erika and I embarassingly sang it all by ourselves). The other groups did there own thing and then the dance/grog session began. I've figured out that the more often you drink grog the more of an effect it has on you. The Fijians seem to be affected quite quickly and get "doped" with-in the first 5 or 6 bowls. I've started to notice that after 8 or 9 bowls I become a useless pile of glunk...unable to function to any great capacity. This night we not only drank, but we had a Village band (guitar + 6 singers) entertain us while we danced traditional style. The traditional Fijian male/female dance is not the exciting hula dance you see on television or in magazines (this is reserved for when the 2 genders do not mix), but instead involves putting one arm around your partners waist and walking forwards and backwards. It isn't much more exciting than it sounds. The best part of the deal is that the women ask the males to dance, so you got to pick and choose your partners. This worked well for me as I wanted to avoid dancing with the old man who had dubbed me "White Sugar" earlier on in the week. Although I failed to last the entire night like most, it was quite amusing. Most students didn't return to the dorms to sleep until after 4 am. The boat took off the next morning at 7 am and given the incredibly small sleeping time had by most all 22 of the passengers aboard were asleep within the first hour after departure. It was quite a sight as bodies covered ever available space of the boat, many trying to find some piece of shade to escape the incredible heat of the sun. Personally I slept in 5 different locations: the trusty Ice-box beside my buddy Timmy, the side of the boat on the walkway, the top of the boat near the captain's seat on a couch, the ground on the top of the boat and the ground on the front of the boat. The 5 hour nap to Suva was quite unsatisfying and when we were greeted on the Jetty with beer, we opted instead to drag ourselves home to our comfortable beds.

Sunday I went to Pacific Harbour (because apparently 4 days in the sun isn't enough) and finished some reading and enjoyed some swimming. When I arrived back home I realized that Suva was experiencing yet another Power Outage (an unbelivably frequent event) and since there was no hot water I was stuck with no way to eat my noodles (which is the standard week-end dinner). Thankfully some awesmome girls in my hall had gone home to Ba for the week and returned with food from their mothers. So we sat on the floor with candles to light our meal and ate scrumptious Indian dishes.

The grand finale of today's entry involves the reasoning why today Monday June 15 was the best day I have had in Fiji thus far. Today I received a package and 2 letters from home...
First of all Keith Fenrich I adore you more than words could possibly describe. Your package of food-like contents has brought me more joy than you could possibly imagine. You are the coolest Hep Cat in the entire Universe...I would wade through a sea of ants for you! If it came down to the last remaining Cokes on Earth and you, I would pick you in a heartbeat. My mother is most definetly right about your excellence and I thank you a million times over for everything you sent...especially the words!
Kailyn-I don't think I have laughed so hard since my arrival. Thanks to you 9th hall thinks I'm a Harlequin! I loved the pictures and the Peak add...I'm so pleased I made the paper without even being in the Country. You are the anti-thesis of Goat Girl which should be compliment enough!
Sean- Honestly dude I never thought you'd actually write a letter and just to have received one from you is more than I could ask for. Can't wait to Taki with you when I return (compliments of the case of beer you owe me). Heck I can even forgive you for the Canucks booting out the Oilers in the Playoff race!

Posted by Sierra at April 15, 2002 03:42 AM
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