off to get scuba’ed!

This extended weekend I am off to get scubatified on Nananu-I-Ra! I am excited. And nervous. And excited. I will also meet up with Katrina there probably. This week she has been in the Yasawas which has been awesome because I have had an intense amount of work to do. This week I finished a 10-page lab report, a 3-page group Marketing assignment, an interview with a public servant and tomorrow I have a mangrove field trip.

Next week I have a presentation. Then Dad and Kate get here!!!! Then in the two days between Easter and Taveuni I have two midterms, a paper, a lab report, a massive research paper and another field trip that I am totally going to miss because I didn’t realize I had it when I booked my flights. Oops. Then Taveuni for a week!!! And then a 3-day Marine Bio field trip. And then two midterms the week after. Plus normal school work. Yeepers!!

In other news, my May and June are looking quite empty!

In other other news, today Kate and I got Hunky Dog hot dogs from the cart downtown and the bbq sauce dripped off on my arm and one of the hot dog dudes wiped it off for me! If you are a regular you get excellent service. Hahahahaha

kat is here!

Katrina got here on Tuesday and we’ve been go-go-go-ing so I’ve been quite busy! This past weekend we went to the Beachouse (a backpacker style resort along the Coral Coast) and did some snorkelling/birthday celebrating/swimming/Euchre-playing. It was a lot of fun! Anyway, I know that Kat will be blogging about her whole trip, and I really should be concentrating more on my school work than blogging, so I’ll let her do the story telling. Here is her blog link: www.gratedexpectations.com

Some random musings I would like to share:

– Is there a point where you stop tanning? It seems like every day I find a new tan line on my body. This weekend was quite bad – I have now upped my tan line count to 102! And I wore sunscreen! I don’t get it.

– I have finished my first paper! Woop.

– On Wednesday I went up to a fish store and got mahi mahi and tuna. Kat told me that the price of the fish is really good and I basically should eat it as much as possible. (mahi mahi is about $24 FJD/kg and sashimi-grade tuna is about $29 FJD/kg) When I was there, I asked the fish man about getting lobsters and he said this “Oh yes, we can get you lobsters, but you have to order ahead. Just come and let us know how many you want.. and then I call the lobster man and you know… give us 1.. or 2.. or 3… days… and then we will have your lobster! …maybe” I would like to do this. Katelin and I will have to get a bigger pot though. LOBSTER NIGHT!!!

– I have been doing a lot of cooking this semester. The other day I counted up how many Budget Bytes┬árecipes I have made in the past year ish, and it is something like 42! All recipes were awesome too. Anyway, highlights of this semester include beef meatballs, pumpkin curry, chicken broth, chicken lime soup, peanut pasta and kokoda. Next on the list: roro, roti, and vindaloo.

– A while back, I had to leave my bag in a slightly dodgy area and my bag got rifled through. (I can’t remember if I mentioned this before…) But instead of stealing everything like they probably would somewhere else, whoever went through my bag took all of my change from my change purse (but not the $50 bill in my wallet) and 1 of 3 chocolate bars that were a gift for my friend. Things like this are frustrating and nice all at the same time.

new zealand climbing packing list

From December to February, I spent 9 weeks in New Zealand, mostly on the South Island. My goal was to do as much sport climbing as possible, work and live as cheaply as possible. I was on the Working Holiday visa. During that time I was backpacking by myself without a car, but met up with other travellers/climbers along the way. I’d like to share with you what I packed in my bag, in case someone else is thinking of doing a trip like this!

I carried my pack on my back with my dry bag strapped on to the bottom of it and whatever I couldn’t fit in it on the outside. I carried around my small knapsack on my front.

Throughout my trip, I got rid and obtained a lot of stuff. Here is what I ended up with at the end:

Gear:

  • down sleeping bag (0 degrees C) in compression sack
  • 3/4 length thin thermarest
  • 1/2 a large PackTowel
  • Gortex raincoat
  • small fork, knife, spoon set
  • swiss army knife
  • REI clipper 2-person tent and footprint
  • 15L sturdy dry bag
  • 50L crag pack
  • headlamp

Climbing Gear:

  • two pairs of climbing shoes (only needed one)
  • 66 m duodess 9.8mm rope (it was 70 m at one point…)
  • climbing helmet
  • 1/2 a small sized blue tarp
  • South Island Rock climbing book (don’t get this one, get rock deluxe or buy guide at each stop)
  • homemade chalk bag with chalk
  • harness
  • 10 quickdraws
  • 2 slings
  • belay device and large locking biner
  • 3 carabiners
  • 5 locking carabiners
  • prussik
  • daisy chain

Clothing/Footwear:

  • wide-brimmed hat
  • 4 tshirts
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 11 pairs of underwear
  • 6 pairs of cotton socks
  • 2 pairs of thin wool or synthetic socks
  • 2 bras
  • tank top
  • one pair of pants
  • one long sleeve shirt
  • one pair of 3/4 sport leggings
  • one thin fleece sweater
  • sport jandals (I would bring sturdy sandals like Chacos next time)
  • running shoes
  • bikini
  • one pair of jeans
  • one bulky knit cardigan

Toiletries:

  • lip balm x2
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • floss
  • shampoo
  • hand moisturizer
  • polysporin
  • ziploc with a few advil in it
  • feminine products
  • tensor bandage
  • daily contacts (i think i only used ~10 pairs)
  • retainer

Electronics:

  • two cell phones (long story, but you only need one, preferably one that you can get on WiFi with) and chargers
  • mp3 player and earbuds and charger
  • 2 sets of rechargeable AA batteries (for camera) + battery charger
  • one north america to new zealand plug converter
  • SIM card
  • camera

Other:

  • NZ/Australia on a shoestring Lonely Planet book
  • small over the shoulder purse
  • small MEC knapsack
  • folder full of important paper(s)
  • sunglasses (prescription and not)
  • paperback book (would exchange at hostels)
  • 1 small tupperware
  • re-usable grocery bag
  • notebook

There ya go. Luckily I met people along the way that filled in the blanks (especially the car blank). I wish I had a better pack, one that was more comfortable and a bit bigger. I had to ship a bunch of stuff back to Fiji before I could fly because there were too many things hanging off my bag.

first month, second semester

The first weekend back in Fiji, I went with the new international students to Tavualevu (north of the main island, Viti Levu). I had been near there, but not quite there, so it was exciting to go somewhere new!

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The green dish at the bottom with the hard-boiled egg is my favourite Fijian dish. It is called roro and made from dalo leaves with spices. It is ultra-delicious.
Fun fact! If you cook dalo wrong, it will make your throat itchy

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the chamba I received
Jillian’s photo

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The village we went to was very religious – they made it really clear right away that non-Christians were not the preferred choice to be welcomed. This was definitely the most uncomfortable I have felt about my beliefs since I have been here. When we first got there, we partook in a church service, which I enjoyed experiencing, but then at the end of the service they were asking for someone to thank them for allowing us into their village and for us to give them our blessing. I was suggested to do it, but I refused. I found this decision pretty difficult – has anyone else ran into something like this before?

Although, spending some time in the village was really nice and we were welcomed by everyone with open arms. The best part was being able to jump off a big tree into the water, and drinking grog with all the adults. It was REALLY HOT when we were there.

One of the ladies in the village gave me a chamba, which is traditional Fijian dress. I got a really nice looking one.

The weekend after our first week of school, Kate and I threw a big pool party/international-meet-local potluck-y get-together and it was awesome fun. It was great to meet more of the group and, although not many locals showed up, for our new friends to meet our old friends. It’s been nice to live off-campus just for something different. It’s nice to have our own space as well.

Here are two pictures from off our balcony:

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The pool party: (you can see the ocean from the pool!)suva-6

At the student bar:suva-5

The third weekend, I travelled to the west to Mt Batimalu near Lautoka to hike with the Suva Rucksack club (mainly an expat outdoorsy group). Liz, another Canadian exchange student, came as well. Our original plan was to hike up the Saturday, spend the night in a bunk on the top and hike down the next day. On the way there, we had to cross a river with the truck which was EXTREME. Naturally, our driver Matt, missed the shallow part and we went rocketing through it at a massive diagonal. Wicked. We ended up getting there pretty late (the other car had a flat tire) and the weather was bad, so we hiked the next day up and down.

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You snooze you lose on the best lying spots
Nameeta’s photo

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Please don’t fall please don’t fall
Nameeta’s photo

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Nameeta’s photo

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Nameeta’s photo

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Nameeta’s photo

The view was not the greatest

The view was not the greatest

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Other than the hiking, in general, sucking (I really do hate hiking, I am not sure why I go haha), it was a great time! Good company and lots of laughs.

Evan (see below) brought equipment to set up a slackline, so we’ve done that a bunch of times on campus. It’s awesome because we’ve gotten a bunch of Islanders to try it. A lot of people are really confused what it is. I’ve gotten a lot better, I can now take up to 7 steps! I have also fallen many times splat on my back and front.

I have really been enjoying my Marine Biology class. It is the first time where I have wanted him to keep talking during the lectures, and where I was looking forward to a lab! What?? Last Friday was particularly epic – we got to go out to a nearby small island and lay a transect (a long measuring tape) and record the substrate (hard coral, soft coral, dead coral, algae, rock, rubble, sand etc) and observe the fish and invertebrates (butterflyfish, sea cucumber, eel, damselfish, urchins etc). BEST FIELD TRIP EVER!!!! It was a bit silly snorkelling in the place where we lay the transect as some places were only six inches deep. I was in charge of looking for the fish/invertebrates, so I decided to lay down in the water with my snorkel heeeheee. It was fun but walking around I felt like I was crushing all the coral (we totally were). At the end, I snorkelled around a bit and I saw a pufferfish! They don’t move very much so you can get really close to them. I also got to try sea urchin raw – it tasted yummy! Kind of like a mussel/clam.

This weekend, I was just planning on hanging out in the city, but Evan (from Minnesota) texted me on Friday saying “we are going to camp on top of Mt Korobaba.. in a couple of hours! be there or be square!”. I still had class at that point, so after class I ran home, jammed my tent in my bag, made peanut butter sandwiches like a boss and ran out the door. Despite the actual hiking totally sucking (I really do hate hiking), it was great fun being able to camp on top of the mountain and learn/play Euchre (minus the hiking part, hiking kinda sucks). It was a bit cold (!!!), I wish I brought my sleeping bag. There were five of us in total – two Canadians, two Americans and 1 Fijian. On the way down, we found some massive waterfalls, pools and even a cave system.

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Hiking obviously means to bring a massive jar of jelly (yum). Albert and Evan

Good morning, Fiji!

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The new international group is massive, and it’s the first time where I’ve felt like I am in the middle age-wise and school-wise! That’s cool! With all the time off and co-ops, I have finally caught up (slowed down?). I have been getting to know some of them really well, and we’ve really been getting along. It’s a great group of people. I have also been catching up with old friends and meeting new students from Fiji and area. We have had lot of shenanigans with lots of people’s birthdays, and even went to Colo-I-Suva one day and climbed a waterfall (deep water solo!!).

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Alden’s photo (right)

After 8 months now of being abroad, I feel like I finally hit stage 2 in the past few weeks. I think the main aggravating factor was the heat. My body really doesn’t handle heat well. There have been a few days where I have changed shirts four times because I am sweating so much. In the past while, I really have been missing staying in one spot for a while. I am getting tired of saying goodbye or see you later to people I meet. I still have barely even unpacked and haven’t decorated at all because I know I’ll just have to pack up again in a few months. This I don’t think is the way to travel! But naturally, I keep extending my trip.. and I am having the time of my life. I’m still not sure when I am going back to Canada….

Kat gets here in three days! That’s nuts. She is meeting me in Suva for the end of the week and I’ll show her around. I need to get a lot of work done tomorrow because I will have 5 weeks of visitors! Yeeps! We have plans to go to the Coral Coast and up to the north of Viti Levu (I might get my dive cert then finally to save some money by doing one instead of two trips). Also, I just booked flights to Taveuni for when my dad and Kate are here. I am looking forward to seeing all of them! 3 days!!