After 15 months in Fiji, I finally had a visitor from home! My dear old friend Sara made her way over from Seattle to stay two weeks here. She cut herself off from technology to spend a week in my village, fishing, weaving, drinking kava, singing with the kids, and of course eating plenty mangos!
Now I’ll be short and sweet about this, since I don’t want to make anyone too jealous about what a great time we had 😉 But some highlights of the trip were:
- Leleuvia: The first few days of her visit were spent at a beautiful backpackers resort on the small island of Leleuvia. Here we made new local friends, SUP’ed, drank beer, and went scuba diving. Helping out at their coral farm was awesome, and the least we could do for them giving Sara her kava christening!
- Fishing: I was quite proud to have invited a “useful” kaivalaqi to the village c(: That girl’s is a natural fisherwoman! We spent three days in a row out at the reef, though one day we did ditch Na early to go “turtle searching”. No turtles, but we did get beached on a sand pit and nearly sink a canoe…
- Beach cook-out: After one day fishing we made blackened fish on the beach, eaten with a mix of sea water, cumquats and chili peppers. I’ve said coconut milk is the best way to eat fish, but this now takes the top spot. Fish were MADE to eat this way! When I tried explaining to Bu (grandma) Kula that Sara wasn’t hungry enough for round two, she said quite seriously, “This is our visitor, and we need to care for her well, Keresi.” Yes ma’am, Bu Kula, ma’am! Well, Sara didn’t complain. Not a bad lunch to have twice!
- Soli: Sara was here for the soli, or fundraising kava party, for my aunt. It was so fun to see my friend all dressed up in Fijian attire, get her face baby powdered and drink kava with my village.
- Family Time: By the end of the week the village was referring to Sara as “luvemu” (your daughter) when speaking to my Na. I haven’t stopped hearing “Isa Sera” at the mention of good stories or a hearty laugh 🙂
- Mango snacks: This is worth mentioning simply because there was barely a moment where we weren’t looking for or eating mangos! If only it were mango season all year round, maybe I wouldn’t feel the impulse to eat ten a day. (But I probably still would) As I’ve previously explained, Fijians like to say people are “smart” in things… well, if us two old friends proved anything, we’re very smart in eating Mangos!
I’ve been told time and again by RPCVs that having a visitor from home will be crucial to re-adjustment back in the states. When no one quite gets a story, I’ll just have to give Sara a ring 🙂 I feel lucky to have a friend who wanted to experience the real Fiji with me! I can’t stress enough how happy it made my soul to have some quality time with someone who understands me without explanation.
I can only hope Sara made as many wonderful memories! And that her reverse culture shock isn’t too rough… not sure how her boss will feel about her stretching out on the floor for a post lunch time nap…