vatu-i-ra passage and many suva adventures

It is the beginning of the 2 exam weeks, but I don’t have any exams until the 2nd week. Two and a half week long study break? Fine by me! A lot of USP students get really fuffed about exams here but they don’t bother me at all.

This past week, I went up to Safari Lodge (3rd time is the charm) to hang out/snorkel/possibly do some diving. 9 of us went up and it was lots of fun! I got to snorkel a ton where I saw coral and coral and more coral. Acropora party! Butterflyfish mayhem! I felt nerdy.

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Ever since I did my dive course I really wanted to do dive the Vatu-I-Ra passage. The dive instructors at Safari Lodge have been travelling the world for the past 7 years and diving at pretty much every dive site known to man. They said that these sites were the best BY FAR, so we did it!

Patrick, Chris and I did a two tank dive at Half-Vatu at a dive site called Malaise. It was incredible. The only way I can really describe it is imagine the best coral picture you’ve seen in National Geographic and then imagine better! We got to go through a huge number of coral tunnels and we saw an unbelievable amount of giant coral fans. Everything was just massive and with such beautiful colour. Sometimes we could look up through a few holes and you could see the surface with red fish floating through and 20 kinds of coral at different depths – absolutely stunning. There is no way that I can describe it to you to do it justice.

Lauren went snorkelling at the same spot at the same time and he thought it was phenominal as well. This trip was his first time snorkelling – he is spoiled (as am I!!). Chris took a camera down so I will hopefully post some photos or videos at some point, but the colours don’t really come through.

We also went to Colo-I-Suva this week, which is always a blast. Yesterday a few of us went to my friend Tui’s farm and it was really great. His family owns a great piece of land in Nausori (about 25 minutes away) and we made a lovo from scratch. We made palusami (dalo leaves with onions, fresh coconut cream that we squeezed and either corned beef or tuna), yams, cassava, dalo, and chicken. It was delicious and I really appreciated him inviting us up there. It was incredibly fun and Tui and his father are two really great people.

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Credit: Evan

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Lauren and I are on a ‘strict’ get-back-into-shape-regime involving pull-ups and ab exercises. I did about 3 sit-ups two days ago and my abs still hurt. Our diet has also changed to bagels and bagels alone because Lauren has mastered the art of bagel-making. YES.

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I finally got my netbook in the mail (took 7 weeks when Canada Post says it will take 5-10 business days even to Fiji) and have been installing Lubuntu on it and getting it up to snuff. It’s nice finally have a reliable computer again.

The other day Liz, Lauren and I saw a Hindi movie called Yamla Ragla Deewana 2. I can honestly say that, to me, it was one of the worst $6.50s I’ve ever spent and 3 hours long gone. The plot was typical… two con-men want to marry a girl with money but accidentally gets engaged to the wrong girl, but add in sumo wrestlers that literally fall from the sky, an orangutan that paints and likes to hang out with lady orangutans, an evil person whose ‘lab’ is in the space exhibit of a science museum and a Super Sheik that can blow people away using his mind. Wow.

There are a billion movies coming out that everyone wants to see in the next 2 weeks: Great Gatsby, The Internship, Man of Steel (all this week), and Monsters University and World War Z (next week).

And yes, through the movies and having fun I will be studying. I am at a pretty good place right now with classes which is good because they are all at the same time. I already finished Health Psychology (final mark: A!), and I am going into all my exams with good marks (A+ in Marketing, and B+ in Marine Biology – WHAT!!!). I still need to check my Ethics mark, but I’ll do that today.

I’m also getting ready for New Zealand more and more.. seeing if I can get more job bites and deciding where I want to fly to at first. I also need to figure out how I am going to pack and where I will stay.. all depends on everything really. Lots of options so hopefully narrow that down a bit more before I have to leave. It’s looking like I will try to start work as soon as possible…. I am hoping for some relevant experience but I might do some odd jobs until I can find a job like that.

Oh and lastly, here is a picture of Christine after her Diablo act at the USP Talent Show. She won second place and won $600! We were all very proud of her. Also, she is awesome. She has inspired me to take some circus lessons at Circus West in Vancouver (where she goes too). Hopefully I will have enough money to do this because I think I would really like to enjoy it. I would love to do the main-en-main course, or a silks course. But main-en-main would be awesome! PS: Diablos are really fun

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And a Stomp-esque group:

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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!!

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).

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 recipes 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.

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!!

fiji 2.0

I am back in Suva again and loving it!

 

I’ve moved into a flat with Katelin, an Aussie biz student, who is doing her whole degree here. Our flat is very nice, probably the nicest place I have ever lived in! It has a pool which is really nice.. so far I have at least jumped into it every day. Two professors also live in our same building (GREG I NEED HELP WITH MY ASSIGNMENT GREG GREG!!). I haven’t been sleeping great.. the combination of new environments/having lots of stuff to do/being hot/my lats are killing me/open bar cocktail night (hehe), but it will get better.

It’s been HOT here. I immediately melted when I got off the plane. Today Suva went up to 32 degrees, feels like one billion degrees, and the humidty varied between 59% and 100%. I have become a puddle.

As soon as I started the bus ride from Nadi to Suva, and even on the plane, so many memories keep flooding back from last semester. It made me miss everyone from last semester quite a bit. The new students are very nice. On the first day, I saw that two new students had set up a slackline outside the library. I have always wanted to try, but was worried I would get injured doing it and wouldn’t be able to climb. Well… now I can’t climb here anyway so I might as well take it up now! I have done it two days so far, and I am getting a bit better! I can now take about five steps on the rope without anyone holding it still. I can also do an impressive face plant and eat grass (I think I hold the record for most embarrassing fall so far). My hand hurts. A lot. Oops. But, the students seem very nice, I have found some other climbers, some hikers, board gamers, swimmers, cook-ers.. it’s really good. I really haven’t met all of them though, there are so many! Tonight a bunch of people came over and we all swam and chatted.

I’ve been helping with Orientation which is quite fun. Tomorrow we go on a village trip and that will be great. I hope there is a place to swim though because I might melt. Hehe.

solar eclipse

Yesterday we could see the solar eclipse from Suva. We knew it was coming but no one thought we’d see it because it was mega cloudy. It was so bright though that you could see it through the clouds. It hurt my eyes.

the picture I took
the awesome awesome picture Dillon took!