It’s been exactly a month since I left Nabasovi for training in Nadi and work exchange on Kadavu. Outer island transport schedules will do that to ya! The last few weeks were packed with electricity and internet use, friends, and everything (and anything) cold (I was even keeping my bananas in the fridge). To the chagrin of my wallet, I splurged on comfort foods that I won’t be seeing for some time: apples, ice cream, burritos, ice cream, cheese, beer, ice cream… you get the picture?!
I’m certain that the first thing I will hear upon arrival is my favorite (*sarcastic tone) Fijianism: “Isa Keresi, Iko sa levulevu!” Translation: Oh Carissa, you are looking quite fat! Followed by, “Gunu icecream vakalevu mai Suva?” You ate a lot of ice cream in Suva?! Whether I lost 5 kg or gained it, this will surely be how I’m greeted home. Poking fun at body image is just normal here, especially in the village. It quite often is meant to instigate a reaction for laughs! While I can’t imagine I’ll ever like it, I think I’m starting to be less sensitive to it (okay, trying). When the comments frustrate me, I mentally chide myself. Am I really that vain that it matters enough to throw off my day? As an American woman I have a lot to gain (ha) in easing up on my body image, so this is one cultural lesson I’m trying to take in stride! And If I can’t, maybe I should lay off of PB Nutella Cookie “dinners” in Suva. =P I might do well if I get better at teasing back—who knew sassiness would be such a valuable skill in Fiji?
Last night as I was watching youtube videos and drinking wine with a fellow PCV I couldn’t quite place my emotional response to returning to village life. Were it a recipe it might have been: 1 cup apprehension, 1.5 cup relief, 2 tablespoons excitement, and a pinch of panic. An emotional Monster Cookie. Going from the land of markets, electricity and friends to village life is a lot for the psyche (and this is why I don’t think I could handle a mid-serve trip home!). How can I possibly have an iced mocha at 8am and no electricity and brown tap water by noon? HOW?!
But, sitting in the airport this morning, it seems my mental monster cookie has been frosted with contentment and sprinkled with extra excitment 🙂 (you thought I was corny before PC? Emotional rollercoasters have a way of enhancing that quality.) I’m ready to be back in Nabasovi, and that realization feels darn good! As much as the spoils of Suva are a treat, it gets old fast. I miss waking up in the morning and picking fresh drauna moli, and calling lako i vei?! out my windows when people go by. People in Suva often give me a funny look just for offering a simple yadra. Enough of buses, air pollution, tourists; I want my little (not so quiet, but comfortable!) village.
Of course I’m truly grateful that I’ve been able to have somewhat regular breaks in Suva, as anyone who receives calls at home can attest to… But Suva is like a vacation, and vacations are meant to end. I’m not in the Peace Corps to drink happy hour beers and bake my friends cookies. Those things will be available to me eternally after my two years here! The spoiling of city life has me jaded. As I mentioned in my last blog post from Kadavu, the challenges of village life are not always fun when they are happening, but they instigate growth and create the best memories! For better or for worse, I’m longing to return to the simplicity of village life.
On the way to the airport this morning, following the usual what’s-this-fijian-speaking-kavailaqis-deal introduction, my cab driver asked the classic question: “It’s good staying in Fiji, eh? Good life here, eh?” In my minds eye I saw my breadfruit tree shaded home, my smiling sisters, and my cat lounging happily in my garden. I saw myself lying star-fish-style on sun warmed san island, shivering and exhausted after hours of fishing in the reefs. “Saaaaa dina!” (My translation: Ain’t that the truth!)