beautiful cycling and walking around sigatoka

Liz and I were trying to figure out a trip to do this past weekend and because are both ‘go-with-the-flow’ people, lots of ideas were tossed around many times. When should we leave? Where should we go? Should we cycle? Should we visit a village? Should we go to Ovalau? Should we hike into an inactive crater? We ended up settling on cycling near Sigatoka with a person from the Rucksack Club (who is also a lecturer at USP!).

I usually try to limit the pictures in my post to around 10, but I couldn’t this time. The pictures from this weekend are absolutely STUNNING!! We had glorious weather all 3 days.

On Friday, we drove to Sigatoka and decided to walk through the Sand Dunes. I was blown away by how beautiful it was. We caught the most amazing sunset I have seen so far (that unfortunately I didn’t capture well on my camera). Fiji DOES have such a varied landscape for being a little island!IMG_0289 IMG_0290 IMG_0291 IMG_0293 IMG_0294 IMG_0295 IMG_0297 IMG_0299IMG_0292

Saturday we biked from Korotogo to Sigatoka to the Loma Primary School. Our attempt was to cross the river at Loma and come back on the other side of the river. Unfortunately the road on the other side of the river was too rough so we just swam in the river instead. I was getting my butt kicked by Dom and Liz up the hills so I ended up taking a carrier of shame back to Sigatoka, and then biked the 7 km back to Korotogo with them. I did just over 30 km that day and they did about 50 km.

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river

Credit: Dominique

river 2

Credit: Dominique

liz and rose

Credit: Dominique

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And the beautiful beach in Korotogo…

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Sunday we decided to cycle to the Tavuni Hill Fort in Naroro Village. Despite having an extremely sore bum, I was happy I could cycle all 20 km with them.

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Credit: Dominique

Credit: Dominique

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may

I have less than two weeks of classes left and I am almost done this semester! The past while has been filled with everything! I’ve finished up the course work in two of my classes, Marketing (going into the final with an A+!) and Ethics & Professionalism in the Public Sector (just submitted my final project, but I think I will have an A going into the final!). I have work left to do in Marine Biology and in Health Psychology. Luckily I will only have 3 finals this semester, because Psychology is all course work and smaller tests.

Last week, Safron hosted a fried chicken night/pot luck at her place, and it was delicious and awesome. I brought over cookies (which had about a 50% burnt rate, so my tutorial the next morning was happy too).

fried chicken

Credit: Saf

The upstairs neighbours got broken into as well unfortunately so now we have a security guard man and we have heavy duty doors being installed. It is a bit of a hassle, I am glad I am leaving soon just so I don’t have to deal with it anymore. They’ve caught one person though, the robber’s associate unless he is a robber as well. They’ve recovered Katelin’s iPod and iPhone, but no luck on my end so far.

We had a bbq with all our neighbours and they are all so lovely. The upstairs neighbour (Ralph) said I could borrow his bicycle whenever I’d like, so I used it this past weekend. They are really nice.

Katelin made pumpkin curry for the dinner (for anyone that has been to our house, this is a staple food) and I dissected some prawns. It involved a lot of screaming but I peeled and deveined all of them! YAY!

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Each Tuesday I’ve been hanging out with Jonah & his floor and having cheapo pizza and seeing movies. Last last week I saw Pain & Gain, which was pretty dumb.

We also had a huge scavenger hunt on Friday night where you had to run around and take photos of your team. That was very silly and very fun. I was on a team with Liz, my friend Ryan from my Marine Bio class, and Benedict and T who we got to meet!

The Coke Games were last week, which I basically can describe as the Olympics of Fiji. It was a high school track and field meet, and they just opened the new stadium and EVERYONE was there! I got to see some heats and the 400m finals and the 100m finals. It was a lot of fun and Ryan gave me lots of insight. I was very impressed by the students that were running without shoes. (ow)

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They gave out paper hats and they are awesome! When he first handed it to us, I wondered why he was handing us a piece of paper…. I thought the hat was silly at first but the sun was so hot that I ended up wearing it almost the whole time.

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Also last week was the USP Got Talent Semi-Finals and Christine (from SFU) has made it through to the finals (this week!). She does a circus act with the big yo yo.

I did some research and helped out with the Management & Public Administration debate team and our team won the first round! The argument was “China is not a threat to Pacific Island Countries Self-Determination” and we were against the motion. This was the quarterfinals, and they go against Accounting & Finance next.

Last week I went to the fish store “1 kg of tuna please!”, but then once I got home and made some sushi I realized that I bought one of the worst probably-going-to-be-extinct-soon tunas to buy. Now I feel like a terrible person. And the worst Marine Bio student.

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There are A LOT of exciting things coming up:

– Lauren gets here in two days!!

– only 1.5 weeks of school left!!

– Fiji vs New Zealand All Blacks rugby game!!

– my first ever wine tasting!!

– Fijian river rafting trip

– Volcom Fiji surf competition!!

tea steepers, inflatable giraffes and floating tables

A Tuesday night with shin splints = I have a handful of super great things to show you:

(who runs anyway? every part of my body hurts)

1. My inflatable giraffe, Ferris

ferris

I got this inflatable giraffe last year as a gift at the Hibiscus Festival and named it Ferris after the death/vomit-inducing ferris wheels. He has been with me through thick and thin (mostly because I can deflate him and blow him up wherever I go!). Last week when the upstairs people got robbed we decided to legitimately use himĀ as our watch-giraffe. Our upstairs neighbours laughed a lot when they came down to use our computers. That was embarassing.

2. Climbing Mugs

climb mugI found one of those wrist strengthening rotate-y balls (that you pull the string to start) in Lauren’s van but with a climbing hold epoxy’d to it. It took me a while to figure out what it was but you can use it to increase your crimp strength. His friend Jack made it. These mugs are similar, with these, you can start training as soon as you wake up!

These mugs are so 2010:

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3. Space efficient van table

climb vanOn Facebook I just saw that someone is selling a climbing/backpacker van, and it is the nicest van I have ever seen. Their bouldering pad doubles as a bed. I really liked their table, it’s so space efficient. And look at that view! I have some climbing trips brewing for post-graduation and I hope they are as awesome as this looks.

4. Tea steepers

tea rex

I have always been in love with the Tea-Rex for many reasons: I love puns, dinosaurs are cool, and tea is yummy.

But I’m sorry Mr Rex… because I just found THE best tea steeper in the entire world. I present to you Cliff the Climber:

tea climber 2 tea climber5. Mountain Decorations

These are all awesome: (from a compilation of mountain crafts)

mountain diy mountain pillow mountain shelf

naloto village

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to go on a weekend field trip to Naloto Village in Tailevu. The field trip was organized by the Psychology Student Association and was mainly a community service/team bonding field trip. It is nice having classes all across the school (this semester I am taking classes in the Management & Public Admin, Psychology and Marine Science/Biology departments).

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Here is a picture of where we went. Look how many places I have been already! I have been doing very well.

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It should have taken us just over an hour to get there, but we ended up getting lost and it took us about 3 hours. But as always, you will eventually get there… as we did! We took a truck with a covered canvas back on it, which was lots of fun and also very dusty. You can’t fall asleep in those cars because you will either fall off the bench or hit your head on the wire cage behind you. Ow.

On the way there!

On the way there!

When we woke up the next morning we could see where we were and it was absolutely beautiful. The village was a little peninsula and was surrounded by the ocean on all sides. In the morning, my group did a bit of a clean-up but most of the time was just spent getting to know the other students. I was happy about this because I had a pretty killer cold and called it a night both nights before many of the other students.

"cleaning up"

“cleaning up”

There was two other international students on the trip, Katelin and Saffron (Saf is from Georgia). It was a bit awkward because the village would not let us sleep in the houses with the other students because they wanted us to have the nicest accommodation out of everyone. We stayed in a house owned by a lovely lady and had mattresses, pillows and blankets on the floor to share. We were all ready and brought blankets and pillows, and hoping to stay with all the other students but if someone invites us in and is so gracious, it is pretty rude to refuse.

Where I stayed

Where I stayed

The international kiddos got salusalus

The international kiddos got salusalus

As it was special occasion to have so many visitors, the people in the village went into the ocean flat and collected kaikoso (reef clams). The last time they took them in was 7 years ago, and I learned that they are a Fijian delicacy. I learned how to open the clams, how to scrape them out and make them into kaikoso kokoda (kai-ko-so cuh-kun-dah) which was the raw clams with their juices mixed with a small amount of diced onion, chilies and limes. I am lucky to have tried them, but I didn’t really like them that much. I managed to eat quite a lot of them, but it got harder and harder as the meals progressed into more and more kaikoso. We just have popped open at least 200 clams and that only made about 3L of soup. Over the weekend, I’d say there was 100 L of soup that I saw being made. Would that wipe out the entire clam population?

First step is to pop open the clam shells

First step is to pop open the clam shells

They made kaikosa in three different ways: kokoda (raw, right), cooked kokoda and cooked in lolo (coconut cream, left)

They made kaikosa in three different ways: kokoda (raw, right), cooked kokoda and cooked in lolo (coconut cream, left)

I was able to experience going to a village church on the Sunday as we were there during the Methodist service. The service was 99% in Fijian so I am not sure what they were saying, but the hymns sounded very nice.

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I really like this picture. He is eating a soursop

I really like this picture. He is eating a soursop

me and Neil

me and Neil

We ended up getting back in the evening, and since we all had no food in our kitchens, we decided to grab food and then head home. That evening two of my classmates came over for my ethics class and we studied as we had a test the next morning (A+!!). I got in the top 2 of the class, not sure which of us got the highest mark.

end of april and beginning of may

For the end of April and beginning of May, I stayed in Suva for most of the time and kept myself busy here. It was a nice change after travelling so much!

We had a friend stay on our couch for a while (Dan from Germany). That was pretty fun and it was exciting talking about travelling and New Zealand all the time.

Alden’s 21st birthday came up so we went to a private beach in Pacific Harbour for the day and then came back to watch the opening for Iron Man 3 with the entire population of Suva between the ages of 18 and 25. It was packed! I liked the movie, some other people didn’t. The whole week before Jonah and I prepared ourselves by watching Iron Man 1 and 2.

WATCH OUT CIRQUE DU SOLEIL

WATCH OUT CIRQUE DU SOLEIL

I also looked like this when I tried to get up

I also looked like this when I tried to get up

Christine is cool

Christine is cool

Evan is a local

Evan is a local

Aman and Derek with lovely Beqa Island in the background

Aman and Derek with lovely Beqa Island in the background

Akaansha and Christine Credit: Akaansha

Akaansha and Christine
Credit: Akaansha

The International Association organized a volunteer trip to an orphanage in Suva to help them fix up their garden. We ended up with not ideal supplies while we were there and I don’t know if we helped or made things worse. Pictures are omitted for a reason.

We have made a lot of yummy food last week – a big stir fry, a lasagna, moussaka, and lots of pumpkin curry (of course).

delicious food that I can get here

This is the counter-post after the “Western food that I miss”. It is the “what food I will miss when I leave Fiji”.

  • pineapple – you haven’t tasted pineapple until you’ve tasted an in season Fiji pineapple
  • soursop – a large fruit that is tangy, sweet, sour and glue-y all at the same time!
  • cream buns – a Hot Bread Kitchen classic
  • chicken pies – another Hot Bread Kitchen classic
  • fish and chips – if you know where to go, some realllly good fish and chips!
  • pumpkin curry – lately we’ve been making a giant pot at least once/week
  • aman’s chicken curry – YOM
  • hunky dog – the best food cart ever, you haven’t eaten a hot dog until you try a hunky dog (nyc hot dogs can’t even compare)
  • bbq – only tastes good when you’re REALLY hungry, a chicken leg, lamb chop, cassava, fried noodles, a lamb sausage and a fried egg for $6
  • curry maggi noodles – pretty much the spiciest 2-minute noodles ever
  • tuna – the fresh tuna here is amazing!!! favourite way: sashimi style
  • mahi mahi – a light fish, favourite way: with a balsamic honey glaze ooorr in…
  • kokoda – raw light fish cured with lime with onion, tomato, cucumber
  • rourou – taro leaves with garlic, butter and some coconut milk
  • palusami – “Fijian lasagna” taro leaves wrapped up with layers of coconut and onion and baked in the oven or a lovo
  • bhaji – indian savoury donut with onion, flour, taro, spices served with chutney
  • coconut milk
  • fresh coconut
  • cheese buns – another Hot Bread Kitchen classic
  • samosas
  • tamarind chutney!!!!! – delicious
  • other chutneys
  • daal – indian lentil soup
  • butter chicken – they make it spicy here, i love that
  • korma – yum!!
  • roti – upgraded pita
  • roti parcels – roti with curried potatoes and tuna/chicken. convenient and delicious and usually only $1
  • pappadam
  • pakoras
  • okra – unbelievably cheap here
  • eggplant – the best eggplants I have ever had
  • mandarins – delicous when they are ripe and in season
  • murg tikka – upgraded butter chicken
  • panner – delicious cheese
  • naan – delicious bread
  • guava – minus the seeds, delicious
  • lamb burgers – especially when homemade
  • fish burgers – in the words of my friend Marty “only in Fiji where they deep-fy marlin like it ain’t no thang”

In other news, I changed my flights around to go to New Zealand on June 25th. Pretty soon! I will be sad to leave Fiji. I was hoping that when I fly back to Canada I would be able to stop back in Fiji, but it’s looking like it will be significantly cheaper to fly back via Honolulu than LAX.