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

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Beautiful Bloody Beaches

My first full day back to the old village (this was all before the move too) from phase two of training was a Sunday. I was sitting in church after the service had ended and was talking with the other villagers as is custom when these two white people came over. I got excited and in my head exclaimed, “Wow! Look! White people! Why are there white people in the village?” Not that I ever forget the pasty shade of my own skin but it is rather unusual to see any other white people, except for the occasional tourist in town. They were visiting from Germany and were staying with Bobo, that awesome villager who owns a small B and B resort. Turned out they were all going snorkeling out at Naigani Island (Mystery Island) the next day and were inviting me to come!

We left mid morning in Bobo’s fiberglass boat. Me donning my always fashionable PFD (as Peace Corps requires), Bobo steering, the young lady holding his fishing line as it trailed behind us in the water, and the young man sitting way up on the bow to make sure we didn’t flip over backwards from zooming about at breakneck speeds (of about 10mph…Bobo really wanted the fish to notice his lure). Took about 30 mins to get across and we made a quick stop to check out the one resort on the little island, which is super cheap and nestled on some beautiful little white beaches. After, we rode around to the other side of the island, anchored in open water and hopped in. Turns out only the boat was on open water and when I rolled backwards into the water it was only a few feet above the reef, a space that was even more limited because a white tipped reef shark was already occupying the area. Woops. Right, I should’ve looked before backing into the sea but I was excited. Freaked him right out though!
The beach and corals on Naigani.

Bobo pulling the boat in.
Bobo proceeded to catch our lunch with his makeshift spear gun - basically just a metal rod with a pointed tip that you shoot with some elastic hosing. He almost nabbed a 3 foot long Spanish mackerel but sadly missed and we ended up having an assortment of reef fish (of the parrot and surgeon varieties and a couple others) instead. They tasted quite good but it was still unnerving to think about what I was eating and where I used to work…

Some surgeons (or maybe pacific tangs?) and a parrotfish. Delectable.

I tried my hand at shooting things underwater and was less than shocked to see that all I managed to stick was the sand on the bottom. One thing to keep in mind, I thought as I was desperately swimming deeper and deeper trying to get the rod, is to make sure you don’t send your spear (or rather Bobo’s spear) zooming off into some deep ocean trench where it is irretrievable. For me deep ocean trench is maybe thirty feet…

The rest of the day passed peacefully enough and on the way back I got to hold the line to try and catch some fish en route. Well we caught something monstrous as all of a sudden I felt myself being yanked backward out of the boat. But I caught myself on the bench seat and the line (it was a 100 lbs line!) snapped. Bobo said he needed a new one anyway but all I was thinking about was what sense did it make to have me be the one holding the line? Obviously if anything bit in open water it would be stronger than me on the other end just casually sitting on the wooden bench of the boat. Then I wondered if maybe Bobo had intended for me to be launched out of the rear of the boat for his own Fijian amusement…

~~~

When I got back to the house I immediately went over to my water filter on the kitchen counter for a drink when I noticed something low down on the wall. First, I should say that while I was gone, my na took care of the place - airing it out now and then and she even changed the curtains! Apparently, she also made it her mission to rid me of my rodent infestation. While I was crouched down, closely examining this interesting mark on the wall and wondering if it had been there before I left, my Na walked in and proudly told me that she had been successful on one account of her pest raid and managed to get rid of the giant rat that had only recently taken up residence. As I stood up and turned to greet her I thought yay! No more rat! I noticed that she too was looking at the wall and as I turned around once more it dawned on me just what the mark was…As it turns out she did kill the rat… by squishing it between a board and my wall until its head exploded…I wish I was kidding …

I'm not sure this needs a caption...

And no, you don’t want to see what else was behind that board. I would have cleaned it up, but I hadn’t had running water in my house for most of that past week since the village men were fixing the damn and putting in some new tanks. I had been taking my baths in the river.

But since I don’t live in that house anymore I don’t really mind it! I imagine that one day, if I ever manage to get back and visit, you know like twenty years from now, that blood stain will still be there…

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