Friday, June 8, 2012

Fijian Ways

When we think of "Fijian Ways" we're not sure whether to laugh, cry, 
or just be amused.  May we share a few with you? 

"Bula" is the Fijian word for "hello, thanks, welcome", etc.  Speaking of "welcome", we never shared with you our official welcome by Bula singers at the Nadi airport 8 months ago (wow, 8 months, and after 32 hours of travel):
Our bula welcome was just the beginning of experiencing Fijian ways.  Like visiting any vastly different culture, you find things that delight you or baffle you. 

Food is a big deal in Fiji, perhaps because there is often so little of it with an equally negligible variety in daily life.  But whenever they can, and wherever they gather, the experience is sure to include food prepared in the "Fijian way."
Luncheon after a leadership meeting: beans on bread, canned corned beef sandwiches with
shredded carrots (note the grater is made with a piece of metal with holes poked into it
and mounted on a board).  All lovingly prepared on the floor of the kitchen with hand
mixing -- meaning, WITH your hands!
Cassava and Dalo (Taro) spread out on banana leaves for the Christmas dinner.  All preparation is done by hand as they break up the chicken, stir the sauce, dish up the food, etc.  Those hands have been everywhere & not necessarily washed!  Then again, they dish things up on a plate for you and because of a shortage of plates, they take your finished plate, scrape off the remainder and dish up the next person's food without any effective washing.  Will we live through this?
More Cassava in palm frond baskets whipped up for the occasion
Speaking of Cassava - the daily food of nearly every family, here's a look around the Bainivalu "plantation" as they show us Cassava being cooked inside and outside at the Cassava plants -- the best part though, is the kids:

Olivia and Tuli teach us how to make "Roti", the wonderful flat bread that goes with most meals.  The pan was hot but Olivia just used her fingers to turn the bread as Tuli rolled it out.

 We found some new citrus in the market one day.  Many of the fruits look the same so we asked the seller, "What's the difference between these and those
other ones?"  "Oh, these are seedless," he replied.  Right -- anything to sell you, but they do taste yummy and we get much of our Vitamin C from these little tart treats.

We love getting acquainted with the natural handicrafts and these brooms made with the spine of a palm frond leaf are the norm here.  They work really well (particularly outside) but take hours to make and sell for $3-4 Fijian (about $1.60 US).
The Nairoqo family were sustained by their broom making and selling during a jobless time.  Their 13 year old son climbed the extremely tall coconut trees to harvest the fronds while the rest of the family worked on the brooms.  Saimone had best luck by selling door to door.  Who could resist a smile like his?
A sweet grandma with handmade fan also from palm leaves.
We loved our visit to Navala, a village where it is required that all homes be built in the traditional method and materials.  It is a "Shangri-La" setting way back up in the interior mountains of the island with a great waterfall behind it and a wonderful river in front where it seemed half the village was hanging out:
Now to a few things most tourists don't get to experience in Fiji . . . 
Above and below -- two Fijian peculiarities, which we don't think American technology has caught up with:  You buy a scrub sponge for dishwashing and instead of the sponge enlarging with water exposure, these begin shrinking until the sponge entirely disappears and you're left with just the mesh (takes a lot less space in the "rubbish bin"); below is an even greater feat -- first finding one to buy and then finding it is only good for 2 uses.  As you begin to swing these, they proceed to break apart in the air (left), and when you hit the wall the rest of the swatter shatters.  Just amazing.
Below - a "repair" of termite infested wood in our bathroom door moulding (this is the finished job, mind you).  They have a saying here that means something like: "well, that's good enough I think", which characterizes all lousy workmanship.  This week, the bottom of that board fell out as the termites had finished munching and there was not enough remaining structure to hold it together.

Termites enjoying our former dining room table.  What artistic circles of "sawdust" they left behind!
Roads are treacherous in Fiji and hub caps have no hope of staying on by themselves
The local mechanic's "garage"
Thinking of cars, we might insert here an experience Tom had one night when he was returning without Annie from dropping some people off.  As he turned a corner next to a sugar cane field, a police officer ran out of the ditch and flagged him down.  Concerned that he had done something wrong, Tom rolled down the window to speak with the officer.  Policeman here have no guns and no cars (but a mean reputation for beating you up before they take you to the station for booking).  So it was particularly strange when the officer excitedly asked Tom if he could jump in the truck and chase that car disappearing up the road because the driver was apparently drunk and he wanted to arrest him.  Stunned, Tom said "Sure, jump in."  Just then the officer saw the car turning into a driveway and said; "Never mind, I think he got home OK."
Gotta love that TV antenna . . .
. . . don't have to love the outhouse
 Note the  "warning" sign at the temple patron housing bathroom where
many islanders from different languages stay when coming to the temple.
Do you get the Pigeon English "Woning" from the island of Vanuatu?
After the flood, Saimone Nairoqo observed that the people spend time every day searching for
firewood and here Heavenly Father brought it right to their village!
On the search for firewood
Speaking of "firewood," check out this major thorn.  This lady's son came limping up to us at church and said he had a sliver in his foot and could we help extract it.  Tom pulled out our handy Leatherman tool and tried but with no success (he thought it was a stubborn, thick sliver about a 1/4 inch long as the entire thorn was imbedded into the boy's heel).  A couple days later the boy was swimming and the "sliver" began working its way out.  Wow, now that is a sliver!  Little wonder they get slivers and other injuries when they are almost always barefoot in all sorts of conditions.  Check out this recess game of rugby in the mud.  Can't imagine how the classroom looks when these little guys return for class:
Tui, Ifi, and Iva
Iferemi Mateiwai

First birth-days for little boys are cele-brated with their first haircut and a party, but most others aren't until you reach 21 when you get the "key" to the world and official adulthood.  Below, Elder Patenaude from Washington DC is being fetted by friends at the little branch in Rakiraki (about an hour and a half north of Ba).

No worries when you have a lot of coconuts for sale
Inmates from the local prison repair a flood damaged wall. We have been so pleased to
observe useful ways they contribute.  They loved the attention when we asked
if we could take their photo.
We started with "bula" and we end with "moce" (pronounced mo-they, meaning good bye) and with some traditional Fijian fire dancing.  


Julie said...

I feel I've just been on a small journey with you. Thank you for sharing. The photo of you two is great! Blessings to you both and the people of Fiji.

Strahls said...

These pictures remind me of Todd's descriptions of "Colombian ways". I keep thinking that surely things have changed after this many years from his mission, but after seeing this; maybe not! Glad things are going better than before with all the flooding. Thinking of you here in Corvallis! :) Strahl Family

emily a. said...

We FINALLY have internet as of today and this was by far the best thing I've been able to look up so far. I'm left missing you both and wishing I could have some of those amazing coconut cinnamon rolls. Seriously, those sound amazing!

Each country has such quirky customs and ways of living life, don't they.

Hope we can skype tomorrow. Love you guys.

Matt said...

What a great post showing so much of the country and culture. I loved the coconut two are experts!

Running Rinnes said...

So many interesting things in your post!! But the best thing of all is the many, many smiles from the Fijians and from the Sherrys. Thanks!