Nose to the Grindstone

Each time I return to the village I have the goal of further integrating; getting to know my community better, spending more time actively involved in village life.  I have been back a week since my recent trip to Suva, and I have been one busy marama Nabasovi (woman of Nabasovi village).

I haven’t done as much sleeping, running or yoga practicing as usual since my return, but it’s been well worth the progress I’ve made in feeling more at home here.  The goal: focus on the area of need, then work on regaining some balance 🙂 Building up my resilience!

For the interested back at home, here are some highlights of village life in the last week:

Wed. 2/25: Arrived at Suva airport 8 am for my 10 am flight back to Koro Island.  We spent the day in the airport waiting for parts to arrive for a broken engine and didn’t depart until after 3pm… Fiji time strikes again.  My poor ta waited at the airstrip all day for my plane to arrive.  Don’t know about him, but for me the view from the plane was worth the wait 🙂

My ride home- luckily the engine troubles were solved before my flight!


Fri. 2/27: Finally went to the school and met the headmaster and teachers.  They are really excited to have my support in promoting health at our school.  This coming week I’ll be presenting to them on Health Promoting Schools (a WHO program supporting a holistic approach to student/environmental health), composting, and some ideas for work with the Girl Guides.  That night I drank grog with all of them, they’re a pretty friendly, open-minded bunch! I’m really excited to have a new group of people to hang out with.

Sat. 2/28: Went on a hike with the headmaster and his family.  I invited them late Friday night and suspected that their acceptance was a “Fiji yes”, aka “sounds nice but probably not”.  To my delight they were ready to go right at 3pm, and want to start walking with me more regularly.

Sun. 3/1: The first Sunday of March each mataqali (family clan) brings an offering of crops from their farm to church.  The minister blesses the offering and it is later distributed to the most needy of the village (widows, orphans, etc.)  I am always humbled by the giving attitude of my community and how grateful they are for the abundance of nature 🙂


Mon. 3/2: All of the women in my village gathered to caka voivoi, or do the work of preparing the necessary leaves for mat weaving.  This is no small task.  The leaves are gathered, spines shredded from the edges, separated into sizes, folded into small bundles, boiled, then finally tied and hung in the sun.  The ladies gather a few times a week to help one another with their voivoi–otherwise one woman alone would be working for weeks at preparing enough voivoi for a single mat!

Helping as best I can, folding voivoi bundles before they are boiled and sunned.
Working together in the shade of the Baka tree

Tues. 3/3: I had the day off because my counterpart is in Suva, so I was a full-fledged villager for the day.  I woke up early and had tea with my family, and then attended the badging of our school’s class captains and prefects at church.  The kids are all so proud to be representing their class, it’s really cool how they empower the kids to be leaders in the school.  I’m looking forward to working at the school and seeing the system in action.

Proud Class Captains


After badging I brought my “sister-cousins” their lunch.  I sat with the other village mom’s and dished out tea and snacks for the kids.  Usually each mother takes a turn preparing lunch or tea for the children of their village, and the kids just bring their own sides (usually a root crop).  Tuesday was tea day, so there was plenty of pie, fried dough, ivi, and other sweet treats… hopefully one day we can get some more fruit in the lunch room!

Following lunch I spent at least two hours raking the school grounds with the rest of the village mothers.  My smallest sister-cousin is sick, so my na stayed home and I was her raking representative 🙂 Raking in the Fijian sun is no joke!  These women sure are strong.  You’d be amazed how much land we can all rake working together.

Wed. 3/4: I spent the morning finishing up raking with the rest of the village mamas and worked in my garden for the afternoon.  The day was interspersed with plenty of laying under trees and talanoa 🙂  In the afternoon I went to the school to meet the Girl Guides.  The leader, Sala (class 1 teacher) asked me to teach the kids an english song.  Turns out they already know “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”, so guess what? Now they know it in Portuguese too! And I in Fijian.  Hooray for global learning 🙂

Post Girl Guides, I went home to shower and returned to the school compound for “school family dinner”.  I was so flattered to be invited- the teachers have quickly taken me under their wing as part of their community.  I made fruit salad with coconut shavings, banana, papaya and citrus juice which everyone loved.  Post dinner we drank grog and chatted the night away.  I had some truly awesome conversations with the teachers about everything from Fijian and American culture, gardening and exercise.  Saturday afternoon I’ll be teaching them a little yoga followed by another hike!

Well that’s it for recent updates!  Life is getting busier here in Nabasovi, and exponentially more fulfilling.  Keep an eye out for letters from me, and keep yours coming my way.  

LOLOMA BIBI (much love) ❤ 


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