So, today is my last day in Fiji! Am back in Nadi for the third and final time before flying to New Zealand tomorrow! I've had the most amazing time on Vorovoro over the past two and a half weeks...fell in love with the place!
I was very relieved to arrive on the island after a very long and rather daunting journey so made a big note to myself in my diary not to do the same journey on the way back...so took the easier and much quicker option of flying here today! I don't really know where to start to try and explain the amazingness of life Vorovoro! Basically, Tribewanted was set up by two English guys nearly three years ago. They made an agreement with the Chief (Tui Mali) that Tribemembers could come and live on the island for as long as they wanted to and do as much or as little as they like to help the community. There was a series on BBC when Tribewanted first started called 'Paradise or Bust' which followed the first year of the project.
It was great to see the series while here...watching the Grand Bure being built while sitting in it was amazing! When the creators (Ben and Mark) arrived on the island there was nothing apart from the Fijian Village, and now, three years later we have accomodation, a Grand Bure, compost toilets, kitchen and lots more which have been built by the Fijians and tribemembers. If you want to know more about tribewanted and have it explained much more clearly than I have log onto the website (www.tribewanted.com). They have lots of cool photos and blogs on there to see.
During the week, Team Fiji live and work on the island and then go home (to neighbouring islands or the mainland) at the weekend. We are very lucky to be cooked for on all days except Sunday when we share out the cooking between the tribemembers. The food was always so delicious! The breakfast bell would be rung at 7.30am. We had porridge, fruit, tea and then usually something unhealthy but so yummy like monkey balls (not quite sure what exactly they were but they tasted gooood!)pancakes or eggy bread. During my first week the mornings were stunning.
Eating breakfast looking out of the sea with a clear blue sky....pretty good start to the day hey!? We then have a morning meeting at 9am where the plan for the day is decided and jobs are given out. I was the gardeners assistant! Recently the heavy rainfall we have been having has been doing my job for me, but on dry days my mornings were spent 'weeding, watering and talking to the plants' as my job description instructed me to do!! Another bell would go around 10.30am for morning tea which would also include some fresh fruit or something a bit naughtier! I loved hanging out in the kitchen with the cooks, helping to make cakes, bread, salads, jam and a few fijian dishes! After morning tea we would usually have a culture class, lead by one of Team Fiji. These included language classes, singing, dancing and talking about traditional Fijian Ceremonies.
Every Tuesday the new tribe members that have arrived on the island have their 'Sevusevu', the presentation of Kava to the Chief. This is a very formal ceremony but the Chief is a very smiley one so it's not too scary!! (Apparantly some of the Chiefs of other islands can be quite intimidating!!) Lunch is at 12.30pm and usually followed by time to chill out in the hammmocks with a book! We're summoned again to the kitchen for afternoon tea around 3.30pm and dinner at 6.30pm...such a hard life!!!
A few highlights of my few weeks here have been walking the four peaks of the island - 'The Four Peak Challenge', sleeping in the pig pens (they'd just been finished so pigs hadn't actually slept there yet!), playing volleyball, snorkeling with SHARKS (!!!!!), weaving coconut leaves to make a roof, taking baths in the sea, star gazing and of course watching beautiful sunrises and sunsets. I've also been lucky to have experienced a few traditional Fijian Ceremonies. Sara-Jane (who use to work on Vorovoro) came back to visit with her new baby, Dylan. As the first child of a member of staff to be born, Dylan had a special ceremony to welcome him into the Fijian Family.
We also had a Lovo ('earth oven') Feast! This was a celebration for the retirement of the chief’s wife and a big send off meal for the five members of Team Fiji that are now in England! None of the Fijians had ever been on a plane so were all very excited and a little apprehensive about their big adventure!! There was soooooooooo much food! But having seen the pig being prepared (a few gross photos just to warn you!) I found it a tiny bit hard to eat the meat! With all these ceremonies (and also most evenings anyway) there also comes grog! This drink (which tastes a bit like muddy water!) is made out of the pounded roots of the Kava plant. It makes your lips go a bit numb and tongue tingle!
The Fijians can drink so much of it whereas I was grogged out after less than 10 bowls! It is prepared and served from a Tanoa which is placed in the middle of the Grand Bure. We are then served some from a Bilo (a half coconut shell). The amount you got served depended on whether the Fijians wanted to "punish" you or not!! There was also a bilo called the ‘hospital bus’ which was twice as big as the normal bilo so was given as an extra big punishment! At the Lovo all the tribemembers were grogged out by about 11pm but the Fijians drank and sand songs right through the night! We got up in the morning and went up to the village to go and wave off Team Fiji only to find them all still sitting on the grog mat!! They of course made us have some…at 6am it was not a good thing to be drinking!!
A few things i've remembered that make me laugh!...the arrival of Samsung and Delilah (the pigs) has to be one of my favourite! Delilah was carried up but Samsung had to be walked up as he was too heavy! Moving a 10,000 litre water tank from the beach to the top of a steep slope was funny and a little scary at times!!! Falling out of the hammocks or them breaking while sitting in it always entertains us for a while!!!
Yesterday was another Sevusevu day and we had all learnt a meke ‘The Monkey Meke’ which one of the Fijians had made up. We all got dressed up with leaves tied round our wrists and on our heads and performed the dance for the chief! It was so much fun!!! Definitely one of my favourite memories.
Last night I attempted sleeping in a hammock…but was quite cold and kept hearing the buzzing of mozzies round my head, so only lasted a few hours!!! But it was really cool falling asleep to the sound of the fijian songs coming from the Grand Bure and the waves swishing just a few metres away!!
I’m really going to miss everyone on Vorovoro, the Fijians were all so lovely and friendly and I made some really good friends who I will definitely catch up with back home!! There is probably loads of things that I have missed out so I might have to add more later! Am now just off pack my bag and have a shower – washing in salty water for the past few weeks has been fun but am quite looking forward to proper wash!!! Soooooo looking forward to seeing Em and Ames tomorrow!!!! Hope you’re all good!!! Lots and lots of love xxxxxxxxx