Because I had a relatively uneventful few days I do not have anything super exciting to update you on...so instead i am going to give you a litle insight into my everyday life here in Fiji. However I am first going to bore you with details on how incredibly cute my kittens are (my dogs are gone). My kittens are the cutest creatures on the entire planet...see that was relatively painless.
BUSES- Buses are our main source of transportation here, as we use them to get around with-in Suva and to go around the Island. The buses in Suva are perhaps the most wildly amusing thing in the entire world. Unlike Vancouver and Edmonton the buses are not run by the City, but are privately owned with around 6 or 7 companies running their transports. Each company paints there buses in a different color, so the bus station tends to be a mosaic of yellows, pinks, greens and blues. The buses do not have windows, which is wonderful for those hot Suva days. In the event of full scale torrential rain, tarps can be pulled over the windows to keep out monsoons and make seeing your stop impossible. The coolest thing about the buses is they blast music, usually of the Reggae genre and singing on the bus is a fairly regular occurence (according to me...others may protest). The fact that the buses are all privately owned makes for a very interesting bus dynamic. The more passengers you pick up the more money you make...this can often lead to bus races where the two buses try to get to the stop first. All is fair in these races and safety of current passengers is really not taken into consideration (why should it be we already paid our money). I have never been on the bus and not been 98% certain that at any given moment it was going to hit a slow-moving pedestrian, scruffy dog or other vehicle. In fact on no less than 2 occasions my bus has hit another car and continued on its merry way. The buses also face another major obstacle as they are giant heaps of CRAP and often cannot make it up the miniature hills found around Suva...honestly there have been times where I was fairly certain that walking would be faster. This, of course, is regulated by taking the downhills at extreme speeds...I swear that they go even faster when there is a curb ahead.
BUSES 2- There is a second variety of buses that we take around Fiji and those are the long distance buses. They differ from City buses in that they resemble Greyhounds more than vandilized school buses. Don't be fooled, they aren't some luxurious super-ride. Instead of the regular 2 seats on each side of the aisle deal common to North America. Fiji has decided that squishing 3 seats on one side and 2 seats on the other is a much more efficient idea. At first glance you may think them right, but I protest...no increase in efficiency is worth the pain of squishing 5 people into the equivalent of 1.5 meters. Please keep in mind that the South Pacific is brutally humid and the LAST thing that you want when your pours are oozing liquid is to be pressed up against some stranger just as sweaty as you. To compound the pain there is the fact that, without trying to be incredibly rude and mean, many South Pacific Islanders do not revel in the wonders of deoderant. To add insult to injury the bus is usually filled with a barrage of market items not limited to fish, root, eggs, noodles and eggplants (my facorite). If you have ever reached below your seat to find your coke and instead grabbed a handful of slimy, stinky fish you will know pain. These buses can be sometimes redeemed by their good stereo systems, but often they have one tape which grows tiresome on 3 hour journeys.
TAXIS- This is my second most popular means of transportation. The streets of Suva are probably composed of 60% taxis, 25% buses and 15% other vehicles. The taxis are generally stationwagons that look like my dearly departed Sukimoo Subaru. In fact there are quite a lot of duplicates of my vehicle roaming the streets of Fiji. There are exceptions to the White Stationwagon, notable are the lime green taxi, cool red volvos and various newer/nicer cars. Most taxis are however in a state of complete and utter decay. Anyone who has ever insulted my car should jump into a taxi today where you are almost guaranteed to have at least 2 or 3 things not working. Most comomon are the trivial things like door handles, window winders and windshields. More interesting amputees are missing their bumbers or headlights. My personal favorite taxi was one taken only a few days ago which I promise you had no bottom. There was honestly a hole beneath my feat shabilly covered with some plastic/tile like stuff. Not only to the cars look more decrepit than my lovely Miss Subaru, they are also oodles worse on the road. Some cannot break the 10 km/h mark up hills or on the flats. The weirdest taxi experience was when I was sitting in my cab and I am quite certain a cockroach climbed into my sandle...now I admit that this may have been somewhat brought about by the fact that Jason had just told me of a similar experience and I was a little bit paranoid, but I am quite certain it did happen. The only other bad thing about cabs is that usually the driver is really drunk which makes the 90 km/h ride home highly stressful. The good thing is that cabs are CHEAP AS DIRT! A 10-15 minute ride is 2-3$, of course this includes 20 questions by the cab driver (a little trick that I've learned is if you answer "Yes" to the first question "Are you married?" than the 19 subsequent questions are omitted).
MINI BUSES- The final of the transportation mechanisms of Fiji (as you have already heard about my fear of flying). These are generally regarded as the culprits behind 99% of Fiji's road accidents, with good reason. These buses drive the 2 main roads of Fiji picking up hitch-hikers. They are able to make the 4.5 hour boat ride a trecherous 3 hour adventure. Once again you become a child of fate, never sure if your van will be a pile of crap or an air-conditioned paradise. These also try to maximize profits by stuffing in as many passengers as humanly possible.
So there you go that is the story of my travels in Fiji. My week-end was quite fun. On Sunday I went to play Ultimate Frisbee with some ex-pats at the nearby fields. I foolishly had worn my yellow and orange shirt which was obviously much to subtle as no-one could see me to pass me the frisbee. It is probably a good thing because I'm sure my breasts and uterus would have prevented me from doing anything useful on the field. It is nice to know that co-ed games haven't changed since the second grade. The highlight of the game was when a giant government helicopter came and landed in the adjacent field. Only in Fiji do you need to take a break from the game so that a helicopter can land!
(Okay in all fairness if Jason reads this...Yes...you did on occasion pass me the frisbee and the boys of Edmonton and SFU have both been good sports in the past!)
Posted by Sierra at April 23, 2002 03:50 AM