This will likely be an earnest, though potentially infrequently updated, account of my adventures, tribulations,
and everyday experiences as I spend two years working as an environmental Peace Corps volunteer in Fiji

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Real Volunteer You Say? The Rumors Abound...

Pictures from our transition from being Peace Corps trainees to full-fledged volunteers.

The going away dinner that our host families in Kasavu prepared for us. The food was delicious!

Most of our families and us. My Na is on the far left in the middle wearing the blue/white striped shirt. The volunteers in the picture are Kim (center), Milli, me, Brian, and Jon (left to right, respectively). The woman behind Brian and I is Viri, our language coordinator.

My Na and I! :)

Tearful goodbyes on the morning of swearing in. In the front, from left to right is Brian's Na, my Na, Milli's Na and Tuvula, her brother.

Swearing in at the Novotel Resort. Sam and Tim are clearly shocked.

The current Fijian president, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, giving the keynote speech.

A spider eating a beatle that was caught in its web. This was taken in my bure in Nadave during the ICCP conference (after swear-in but prior to site move-in). A group of us sat enthralled by this for a solid 20 minutes, taking pictures and videos from all different directions and angles and under different lighting. I put this particular picture up partly because it looks cool, partly because it conveys the level of entertainment available to us at times, and partly to remind everyone how much of a bio geek I am (and so many other volunteers!).

That's my island! Ovalau! This was while I was waiting for the ferry to come and ferry me across to my new home.

Some of the ladies in my new village. We were standing on the one road on the island waiting for the carrier truck transport to come and take us all into town. It usually comes around 8 AM and brings us home after a long day of shopping some hours later. It's an exhausting affair and so many of these villagers do it more than once a week lugging gas cylinders for refilling or sacks of crops to sell on the street.

This is the boardwalk in Levuka, the only real town on Ovalau (and naturally where I restock from). Levuka is known as the old capital of Fiji.

A church in Levuka.

The main drag.

The Levuka (or rather Ovalau) library! Being that I'm the newest member, the librarian allowed me to take this picture.

Dinner in my house with my new family on one of my first nights in the village. They live in a separate house across the village but they consider me their family none the less. From left to right: Taufa (my Na), Taji (tachi-my brother), Nau (the oldest sister), Nau Levu (in the back, she is my great aunt and neighbor), and Vika (the middle sister). My last sister I haven't met yet, since she is away at school in town.

Look out for more pictures of my house, village, and the absurd bridge that I have now traversed in the middle of the night without light and weilding a pot of soup!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Home Sweet Home!

So here I am at last! After nearly a year and a half of applications, essays, emails, medical exams, training, and travel I have officially made it to my project site for the next two years! I'm a real Peace Corps Volunteer at last.

I have been posted to a village on the island of Ovalau, which is more or less due east of the main island, Viti Levu. My house is modest and adorable. It is a little tin shack that is about 100 feet from the ocean. I am on the west coast of the island facing Viti Levu, so sunsets are breathtakingly beautiful; streaks of red and orange glistening off the calm water and creating a silhouette behind the mountainous islands in the distance. Directly behind me to the east, the land rises abruptly into steep, rugged green mountains; there are trees of every kind all across the land (lots of palms naturally) with lush green expanses sprinkled throughout.

The family that owns my house have stocked it magnificently; I have a gas stove, some pots and cooking utensils, a table and chairs (!), a very nice bed, and a sink! I do not have electricity, although I do have some wires hooked up to a car battery that supplies a enough energy to power a little dome light hanging from my ceiling. That along with a hurricane lantern, some candles, and a headlamp supply me with enough light to get by! I might be a bit of a dork but I can't help but feel a little giddy when I'm lying in bed under my mosquito net reading by candlelight :D.

So some things I've done so far: gone for a run along a small bumpy dirt road (umm... the main road on the island) through the jungle at sunrise; gone snorkeling along the reef outside my house; been chased through the village late at night during the full moon by a dog that started charging me from out of no where only to find out that he is actually "my" dog (or rather the dog that the previous volunteer owned and kept around the house and when he saw me coming out got really excited and ran up to jump on me...); accidentally interrupted the chief as he was introducing himself to me... woops; managed to full on launch myself into an elder woman's house when I went to borrow oil from her with my sister late one night (being that everything is so dark and I mis-gauged the doorstep...); traversed a twenty foot bridge (affectionately called the Prince Williams bridge) over a little river in order to get to my family's house - what made this terrifying is that the bridge was an 8 inch wide bouncy tree trunk and I was carrying every electronic device that I currently have in my possession and given my track record of tripping I was just a little nervous. !! I managed to survive and will be carrying my stuff in a dry sack from now on. :)

Well that's all for now! I will try to get pictures up soon. I am only able to access the one internet spot in the  main town on the island a couple of days a week. And being that it is a 3 hr affair that is fairly expensive I won't be able to come too frequently.