Saturday, May 06, 2006

Palm Sunday and A Jungle Bridge

April 09, 2006

Ahhhh, a day off. Slept in a little bit, had coffee on the beach before breakfast. We were on the boat to leave for church at about 9:45. We all had to wear Sulu's, the long skirts, even the men.

It was Palm Sunday, so the children let the service. A couple of the kids were so nervous when they did their parts they cried. I felt so bad for them. I can remember doing the same readings when I was in Sunday School. There's were all in Fijian of course, but we understood the gist of it. The singing was again amazing. The only downfall was that it was amazingly hot in the church. A couple of us thought we might pass out, but we made it through.

Afterwards, we gave out a backpack full of toys--balls, dolls, combs, tattoos and stickers. Gord spent about 1/2 hour putting tattoos on the kids. Once again we were swarmed for the goodies. Not pushing and shoving though, just patiently. We took many pictures--the kids so love seeing themselves on the screen.

A few of us walked back to the resort through the jungle. One man from the village walked with us as a guide---it was just a trail, so we couldn't have really gotten lost. It was a beautiful walk, VERY hot though. Zacchariah and many of the other staff walk home over the trail every night--often in the dark, and most without shoes. I had difficulty in shoes in the light at some points!

We went out on the boat--some for a scuba dive, some for snorkeling. Deeper than we had been before. I saw a very large school of blue fish with yellow fins. There was much mushroom coral here as well. There was quite a strong current, and it was difficult to swim against it. I had to get out of the water after a while, as I was getting eaten alive by sea lice. They feel like little needles all over. Not pleasant when you feel one under your swim suit...

Back to the beach for a lazy afternoon. One of the village pups comes for a visit. She lay in my lap like a baby for quite awhile--giving her a tummy rub made me miss my own dog a little less. I think these dogs don't get much love. We all sat on the beach chatting and enjoying the Fijian breeze until the sun went down.

April 10, 2006

My team went to Waisea's village today--called Nau Cewai (pronounced Now Thee Way). We dropped the other teams off at their villages and we walked a short distance down the beach to a river (Nau Cewai means village by the river). We had to cross a 'jungle' bridge across. All I can say, is I'm glad Waisea was carrying our suitcase!

They had real bridges at one point, one built by the American and one by the Japanese government, but they were both wiped out by hurricanes. This one seemed to work well enough!

Waisea took us to his house and invited us in. All the houses we have been in have linoleum for flooring--and not necessarily matching in all areas of the house. Whys (his nickname) was the first house that had furniture to sit on: 2 chairs, a sofa seat and a coffee table. We sat for a bit, while they set us up a surgery table. We noticed two turtle shells hanging on the wall--Whys had caught them and dried their shells.
Our surgery table ended up being a piece of plywood over a large oil barrel, with 4 smaller kerosene barrels, a rock and a piece of wood thrown in. Under a large breadfruit tree. That was dropping frisbee sized leaves onto the table. Pretty wild stuff! Right away there were three dogs there, a female and two males. We sedaated a male and the female and got started. Following those, there were three pups, all males, maybe two months old.

All the surgeries went well, although there were only the six. We were prepared to do some cats, but the only one they could catch escaped just before they got him to us. And man, did he move! He launched himself out of his 'captors' arms and he was gone.

We handed out many gifts again, including pencils, pins and toothbrushes. The kids all lined up for things. While we were working, the kids had picked some coconuts (bu in Fijian) for us to drink the milk. They also brought us many lemons and mandarin oranges. We had a bit of a feast before we headed back to the other teams.

Back over the bridge we go, Whys with our suitcase slung over his shoulder, the rest of us shuffling behind. We went back to where the rest of the group was. They were still working, but didn't need our help, so we went to meet Whys' wife, who cooks for the teacher of this village. She invited us in, of course, and presented us with necklaces made of shells that their daughter had made. A beautiful souvenier.

At this point we headed back to the group and they were finishing up. Lunch had been brought from the resort, so we sat and ate before packing up and heading back.

I spent the rest of the day reading, and scouring the beach for washed up treasures. I found many beautiful shells of types I had never seen. Pieces of dried coral; one piece that was bright red, and a few that were pink. Some shells I picked up and discovered an occupant--hermit crabs. So many of them, and from teeny tiny to large enough to hurt with their pincers.

Dinner (after a bit of kava, music and dancing) was cooked over a lovo--an earth oven. A fire is built and then allowed to burn down to coals. The meat, fish and root vegetables (taro and kasava) were all wrapped in woven palm leaves and then placed directly in the coals. Palm leaves were then laid over everything to keep the heat in. It was delicious, with a lightly smokey flavour to everything.

(Note, after the fact--this was one of my favorite days. From the crazy bridge we crossed, to the crazy surgery table, to the breadfruit tree leaves, to the necklace keepsake, to watching kids scale coconut trees to pick coconuts for us, to the amazing dinner. And we did 22 surgeries between the three teams. This day felt like we experienced Fiji!)

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