Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Here and Now

I am reading Kevin Killian's "Selected Amazon Reviews" by computer light. I can't help but think how bad this is for my eyes.

My gut is filled with my moms biscuits and gravy. (the best I have ever had, although my brother says he still thinks Artie's has the upper hand on the matter).

Albums I have finally listened to and am kinda-sorta jockin': The Rapture's Pieces of the People We Love, TV on the Radio's Return to Cookie Mountain, and Devendra Banhart's Cripple Crow.

Tonight I would like to dream about elementary school, being a late bird and having the extra time in the morning to ride my skateboard around in the street.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Totally going to stuff my face...

Today is the day I have been waiting for for the past like, I don't know, two months or so. Not a day went by in Fiji with out this day crossing my mind. If you don't know what day I am talking about it's probably because you aren't a blood relative. Today is, are you ready??? Dun dunDUN!!!! Thea Rita's Christmas Party!!!!! WootWoot!!! This is one of the many times that my whole family, or at least those that are local (we will miss the ones out of state and overseas incredibly), gets together to eat, drink, and truly be merry.

I can't really remember if we actually eat dinner there or not. I usually slip into some kind of food trance. I can always remember the h'orderves (I have absolutely no idea how to spell that word) and the desert, but somewhere in between I get lost. Either way, I will starve until six or seven and then, boooyahhh, its on.

Monday, December 18, 2006

My Pappou

I just found out, this morning, that my Pappou paid for his house with cash he had won from playing poker. He was such a bad ass poker player that all the older gentlemen, rich fellas, begged him to play with their club. He said he won $60,000 in about four hours. Dang, dang, dang, dang.


For me, there is truly nothing like it. Raw flesh especially. From ripping it out of the packaging to slapping it down on the cutting board. I can hardly keep myself from teaing into it. I love everything about it. Massaging spices and oils into it. The sound it makes when it first hits the grill and especially tearing into it with my fingers and teeth. There is nothing quite like eating a whole chicken and being able to hunt out all the nooks and crannies of meat and marrow with your tongue and fingers. Or having a tug of war with the vertebrae of a lamb over the esophagus. Oh man, that rubbery reward was worth the effort. My new favorite is sucking the spinal fluid from the vertebrae of a lambs neck. There is nothing quite like it.

Friday, December 15, 2006


Movie: My Dinner With Andre

Location: LA

Occupied by: Beer, good beer that doesn't taste like saliva. Looking at petite girls with pert booties. More beer. Seeing old friends, Jeremy and Brad. Sleep, jet lag. Disorientation...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

My final morning in Fiji

This is it. My final morning in Fiji. It is 5:00am and my belly is still full from the wonderful dinner made for me last night. The food was amazing, but even more wonderful was the post dinner Kava session (Savusavu). Sitting around the Tanoa were Tom and Erik (my bosses), Pasemaca (office girl), Pa's mom Taka, Pa's Grandfather, Uncle Meka, Pa's Aunt, Joshua and myself. Josh had a guitar so in between Taki rounds we were all singing and clapping and laughing and joking. When it was finally time to leave the family got together and sang the Fijian farewell song to me. After much hugging and kissing and kind words I was off to bed. This place is truly special. Never before have I met a people as kind and selfless as the Fijians.

Bula Vinaka, Fiji. Moce Joe...Weylay Milay...Weylay Fiji...

Vinaka Vaka Levu everyone.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Last full day in Fiji

Two things done today...Scuba dive with sharks, and crazy Fijian massage.

Dive. Sharks seen; Bull (3.5-4.5 meters long), Nurse (3-4 meters), Lemon (1-1.5 meters), Silver/Black/White tip (range from1-4 meters). These sharks were crazy close. Dove with out cage, open. I could have reached out and touched the bull a couple of times and the nurse too. Probably would've bit me though. All very impressive. Almost invisible at a couple meters distance. I really liked the look of the Sucker fish. It looks like it is swimming upside down. Its lower jaw protruding twice the length of its upper. One latched on to my toe. I kicked it off.

Massage. Crazy Fijian style. Full body. Start in chair. One person on your shoulders one on legs and feet. End up on table. Now one person on shoulders, one on each leg. Three people for one hour. I think they were a family. One older woman, and older man and a younger pretty girl. The girl kept going really high up my thigh and running her hand on the inside of my leg and touching things that weren't included on the massage menu board. She did it a bunch of times. I was kinda uncomfortable at first, then I was just all whatevs, I leave tomorrow.

Tonight I am off to dinner at Pasemaca's (Pasematha) house. Land crab, prawns, fish, casava, dalo, etc...stoked.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Swinging at the Pearl

Lazy day. Woke up, watched Aspen Extreme. Soon became severely anxious, almost to a point of becoming severely depressed. Rode bike over to Lost in Paradise ice cream shop and said hello to the lovely girls working there, Ateca, Loselini, Lucey, and Mom. Meet up with Andre and went off to the Pearl to swim in the ocean and their warm pool. I ended up in a hammock for a couple of hours reading my book.
Now I am about to go off to Andre and Ateca's house and help them cook more lamb neck and casava. It will most likely be followed by Kava and Fiji Gold.

Bushmaster...this brings me up to date...Sun.10.Dec.2006

I spent the 7th and 8th in the Namosi bush. Petero, Bosilio and I did a first descent down the Wainikovo river. This is it in a nutshell...

  • Walking, scratch that, dragging our boats every fifteen minutes over gravel/boulders and down waterfalls.
  • jumping from said waterfalls
  • surfing boats
  • being in the bush with no supplies except a couple of spears and a machete
  • class IV water
  • catching eels and prawns for our meals
  • mosquito's, bits on lips, in nostrils and mouth. I kept waking up and having to pick mosquito's out of my nose, I kept inhaling them
  • building a bamboo hut to sleep in
  • getting a good soaking from the downpour
  • mosquito's, mosquito's, mosquito's
  • day two, waterfalls, canyon, falls, boulders...
  • kasava, dalo, kasava, kasava, tinned beef, kasava
  • not feeling sick anymore
  • prawns for breakfast

now lets get on with the present tense....

Nooks and Crannies of Travel....Wed.06.Dec.2006

Extended travel. First there is the novelty of being somewhere new. Soon that wears off and you become accustomed to the lifestyle. It starts to become normal, everyday life. Soon, usually a week or so before departure, you start to find nooks and crannies and tidbits that appeal specifically to you. Now all those details that seem to be there just for you are emphasized and highlighted. These are the things you will remember.


car alarm bird (it even does that brp brp brp like right when someone turns their alarm off)
balabala tree
pouring juice on someones ankle

Pat and Loreli

Up to Nakavika this morning. Pat and Loreli were on the trip. I was really excited to share the village with them. I have become so attached and proud and in love with this village. I really hope that enthusiasm doesn't come off as know it all-y.
At Savusavu Nikola, Petero's son, came and sat on my lap. I love the Nakavika kids, especially Serasio. When you pick him up he just latches on. If you try to put him down he latches even harder, wrapping his legs around my waist and his arms around my neck, refusing to get down. This Masons cheesy or pretentious, but I can see how being an adoptive parent can really eliminate the fact that you and child are not biologically related. You don't need to be. There is just something about that boy, I feel very strongly connected to him, even protective.
About the trip...I photo kayaked. Trip was standard.
Post trip...Pat and Loreli, Ryan and Shiloh and I went to Oasis for dinner. News was being blasted. Today at 6:00pm Commander Bainarama (Bananarama) has assumed all control over the Fijian Government. He has removed Prime Minister Qurase, surrounding his house and putting him on house arrest. He is also removing several Cabinet members.

The military has taken control of the country...

A Coup???? Tues.05.Dec.2006

There was supposedly a Coup yesterday. Although the military commander called it a "Clean Up". The papers had people so stirred up and afraid. there was also a reggae show in Suva last night which Tom, Kim, Friend, and I attended. Lots of road blocks and check points at all the important locations; Navy base, Prison, Police Posts, Prime Minister Qarase' house. These guys were all armed and geared up. When we drove by they had nothing but grins on their faces and were waving happily. This Coup is the most peaceful ever.

The Whistling Duck Bar in Nasori...Mon.04.Dec.2006

Bruce just told me this morning that somebody was murdered, beaten to death, at the Whistling Duck the day we walked in there. Thank goodness we decided to leave.

White Tip...Sunday.3.dec.2006

Scuba dive. Saw a White Tip shark, maybe a little over a meter long. It rained last night so the rivers are running brown and flushing tons of particles into the sea. Visibility is low. This is also great conditions for shark attack. Murky, early morning, only two of us diving. Yikes.

I took a drive down east, towards Suva. Just passed the road to Namosi Valley. Now I am stopped sitting outside of a small village that sits atop a hill on the coastal side of the Queens road. It is actually more of a squatters settlement. It was established by an ex-convict and now is made up mostly of ex-cons.
It is a nice looking village though. Beautiful bridge, all the bures are thatch hut style, none of this aluminium siding stuff. The beam through the roofs actually have branches growing on them.
Fijians use the Balabala tree (fern tree) for a cross beam of their roofs as well as for the walkway.


Took final exam for my Open Water coarse, passed.

Tomorrow I go on my final training dive with Joeli. Bruce wont be joining us, he is off to New Zealand. I am curious to see how the dynamics of the hose change, just Tom, Erik and I.

So far today; Exam, Pearl for beer, Ocean for swim. Surprising enough I haven't spent all that much time in the sea. I am on an island and most of my water time is spent in fresh river water. Rarely do I go in the sea.

On Thursday we took three cast members and the crew of the Survivor series down the Upper Navua. All of our guide school boys worked that trip and did very well. I was especially worried about Kinivuwai, but he proved to me that I have nothing to worry about. Trip went smooth, smoother than anyone expected.
The crew brought butt loads of beer for the drive out. It was a long day so that by the time we were at take out it was dusk. By the time we start our descent it is pitch dark and pouring rain. Satia, our driver was hauling ass. The jungle flashing by the windows. The executive producer kept getting up and giving drunken speeches and swearing at the crew, in a loving way. Soon he stood up and started add libbing a song; "Goddamn, the Rafting Man". Soon we all joined in and we were all drunk and singing and clapping and stamping and drinking and laughing.
This was a great day. Great crew, great river, great company.

I have a growing concern about the future (cheese). My future Career path seems overwhelming and frightening. I am constantly analyzing what kind of success I want to pursue.

Commander Bainimarama (Bananarama) has decided to postpone the Coup, extending the deadline for his demands. He will wait till Monday, midday.

COUP #1.dec.2006

Today might be the deciding factor on whether or not there is going to be a coup. It doesn't really feel like there is going to be one. I'm not sure what it will mean for me as a traveler.

Flash Flood #21.nov.2006

Upper Navua.
Average day. Actually its scorching, my skin hurts. I've never sweat so much from inactivity.
Guides: Moses Batarua, Andre, Pita.

After lunch, like clockwork, it started to rain. The rain only got heavier, stronger, thicker, darker. It started coming down in heavy waves. But not like waves in the states where they only last a few seconds. These waves would last minutes with heavy gusts of wind that didn't quite.
The river flashed. At take out I actually stood there and watched a rock become submerged in just about a minute. The river climbed about five feet up the bank every two or three minutes. By the time the truck was loaded and ready to go the water was climbing up the back tires.
On the drive out the jungle looked so alive. I kinda felt like it was watching us, like it could have closed in on the road anytime it wanted to. The bridge we have to cross to get to the Queens road was gone. About five feet under water. All that was there now was a huge wave, big rapids. Eventually it went down to about two feet above the bridge and we just said to hell with it and went for it. We got home safely, wet, but safely. Beautiful rain.

Nakavika School Trip #28.nov.2006

Today was a special day not only for the school children of Nakavika, but for me as well. Every year Rivers Fiji does a special trip for the kids in primary school, their teacher Maria and school master Venacio. Man, what a blast.
The morning Savusavu with Chief Leo. Serasio was there again. What a beautiful little boy. I will have to post his picture here, you'll see. When Savusavu was done we went out and met the children. You could feel the excitement in the air. There were about twenty of them, all smiling and grinning and teasing each other. Bosilio and Petero brought rafts for them to ride in.
These kids are so polite and well behaved. At lunch they all lined up with out being told and each got some juice and a sandwich and then went and sat down. They all sat in a line on the rivers edge, eating and quietly chatting.
It would make any parent proud how well behaved these kids were....that is until I got involved. I started grabbing them and tossing them in the water and wrestling with them and having splash fights.
Of all the things I have done here, of all the places I have visited, I like none more than being in Nakavika village in the Namosi highlands.

pser....on the 7th-8th Bosilio says that he is going to take me out into the bush. two days on a river that's never been run, the Wainikovo river. Fish for eels and prawns...can't wait.

First dive ever...#26.nov.2006

Dive #1: Carpet Cove, 18meters
Dive #2: Pearl Rock, 18meters

Fish, fish, fish, colors, colors, colors, pressure, pressure, panic, panic, relax....

Two Lyon fish. Beautiful. Big.

I got real nervous during the second dive. Started to panic and couldn't breath. I just needed to calm down.

I am reading about sharks right now. I thought it might ease the fear, nope. I am now totally irrationally frightened of sharks. Joeli, our instructor, he is in constant contact with Tiger, Bull, White and Black tips. No cage/armor/protection of any kind. By the way, these are known as some of the most aggressive sharks. He feeds them by hand. If they get out of hand all he has to defend himself is a metal rod.

:::::Unknown date::::::
Today Bruce went on his second dive. After the dive he was doing his 200meter swim test across the channel outside of the Pearl Resort. While climbing out of the water he stepped right on a stone fish. Two sting, neurotoxin. He said he could see the toxins climbing in black/blue/purple splotches up his leg. To neutralize the poison you put your foot in hot water. We have a tea maker, so they emptied it into a bucket. Before they could put cool water in Bruce's foot was submerged. He said the pain was like having lightening strike you foot at the same time as someone is beating the hell out of it with a sledge hammer, and now it is in boiling water, his skin is bubbling and blistering. Good news though, the hot water killed all the toxins.

Ad Agency Executive #thurs.23.nov.2006

Yesterday was an Upper Navua trip. On the trip was a man named David who works for Butler, Stern, Shine and Partners, an ad agency in the Bay Area. We chatted and seemed to hit it off a bit. he actually lives near my old apt. so we chatted about the hood and whats new around. He gave me his card and said that we should meet up when I get back into the states. I am really kind of hoping that this goes through. I'd like to try my hand at a real job. Stick around for a while. We will see...

Right now; just waiting for dive class to start.

Photo Kayak & Anon (tuesday.21.nov.2006(

Luva trip today. First day of photo kayaking. It is rather pleasant. You get to go down on your own, listening to the jungle and the water and your paddle strokes. Very meditative. I thought I'd try something different today. I tried to speak all my thoughts out loud as they came. It's harder than it sounds. Directions change quickly inside, its actually really hard to follow.

There are geckos everywhere. It has become normal for me to see them inside all over and not be all 'what the?!?'. They chirp really loud too. There are a bunch of them that live in the light switch. They come out and face each other and chirp for a few seconds and then run off.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Burned through them:::::::American Hero, Cradle to Grave, Man Eaters of Tsavo, Blink, Visionaries, Da Vinci Code (SUCKED), Shark Attack, Life of Pi.

Magazines::::::::Climbing (1 issue), National Geographic (5 issues of adventurer, 2 issues of standard), Backpacker (1 issue), Surfer (4 issues), other randoms (Maxim, FHM, Hustler, Playboy, etc...)


Eucalyptus: Colored/rainbow. Fleshy. Camo patterns. Greens, greys, reds, pinks, salmon.

Balabala tree: A.K.A. Tuki-Tuki tree (Tuki=sex). It's a fern tree. Stumps used as posts to line walkways. Usually either faces are carved into the side or there is a horizontal white stripe around it with a white shell or rock on top.

Baka tree: Massive canopy. Canopy can get to be about the size of a football field. Not a single trunk, but all connected under ground.

Orchids: Everywhere.


No Tiki Pool Bar. Studied for Open Water Scuba exam instead.

Tomorrow is Josateki's first day of actual work. First time with guests. He should have no problem, his guiding is good, his English is good and he is very talkative and knowledgeable about the bush.
I am very excited and really, really proud.

Pub Hunt (sat.18.nov.2006)

Today Bruce, Bosilio, two unnamed Fijians and I decided to hunt for this mysterious brewery that we have heard about in a town called Nasori near Suva. Unfortunately, we failed miserably. Instead we wandered into the Whistling Duck. Well, first off you have to understand that we were the only Kavaluqi (kavalungi) in all of Nasori so walking into this bar, well, lets just say head were turned and stares frozen on us. The bar was already crowded at 11:00am with burly looking Fijians, trashed, smashed Fijians. Now Fijians cannot hold their alcohol what so ever. This bar was filled with tons of guys, big guys. All over 6' and well over 200lbs. We decided not to stay there, but to get out the door we had to fight our way past two drunk guys playing (fighting) tug-o-war with a woman.
We wandered on down the street to...well, I don't think it had a name. It was a single room with a pool a table, a picnic table, a couple of elementary school sized stools and a bar with a boom box playing reggae and hip-hop. We taki'd a few tall boy Bitters, played a few games of pool, Fiji style.
From here we proceeded on to Suva Central. Our destination; The Club At Garricks. Garricks was on the second floor, above a boarded up store front. We all had to pee from the tall boys and ended up having to wade to the urinal one at a time through the slime and muck at the Garricks facilities. Here we sat on the balcony taki'ing tall boys and hollering at girls...mostly big girls.
This is where I learn of yet another interesting Fijian custom. Bosilio tells me that he is not allowed to talk to his sister, nor she to him. This is an old custom and it varies from village to village. Likewise Andre cannot speak to Ateca's, his wife's, unlce. It is an odd custom and I'm not exactly sure how it works, but Bos says that it is a sign of respect.
After the blur settles into our heads we decide to go for food. Bos suggests the Suva Market for Lamb Neck. LAMB NECK!!!! I am so totally in. We get there and its just a cage in the middle of the sidewalk. Dirty as hell and I'm sure I am going to be sick tomorrow. The women are all excited because I am the first kavaluqi, white guy, to ever eat here.
For four dollars you get five lamb necks in a curry sauce, meat around the vertebrae, and four fist sized pieces of casava (starchy root).
Post beer journey, lamb neck adventure and then drive back, we find our selves at Bosilio's house. As always there are tons of children running around and a bunch of men drinking kava in the Yard. Bruce and I are invited to share their Tanoa (large wooden bowl used for serving Kava). We agree to just one or two, of coarse this turns into seven or eight.
Sitting beside me is Patrick. Older Fijian fellow. He speaks only in whispers, as do lots of other Fijians after drinking kava. Because of this, and his thick accent, he has to repeat himself two or thre times before I finally get it. I learn that he is an officer in the army, has been for about fifteen years. He tells me of his travels all over the world and of the American soldiers he's met along the way. For the most part he ahs high regard for Americans, except for their constant swearing. He also tells me a bout his favorite place on earth, his village in Siqatoka (Singatoka). He is very proud to be Fijian. I admire that. He posses those qualities that make Fijians unique. Inviting, warm, welcoming, interested, selfless. I've known him only a few minutes but already he has invited me to come and visit him at his home and eat and stay with him for a day or so if I like. I know that his offer in genuine.
A great encounter to end a great and long day. Tomorrow, if Bos and his wife call, I will go to the Tiki pool bar and swim and play with Danny, Bos's daughter.

pser...last night i woke up with a giant cockroach crawling up my neck...couldn't get back to sleep so went to the couch.

Kid Poo (wed.15.nov.2006)(fri.17.nov.2006)

Wednesday:Yesterday we were driving through the coastal village of Wiendroka to pick up our porters. I'm sitting in the back of the 3 ton carrier waving at all the kids when what pops into view??? The happiest little kid, smiling and waving excitedly, all while squatting over some aluminium siding taking a poo.


Friday: Noone can remember my name. They keep calling me Bruce. I guess all Kavaluqi (pronounced Kavalungi=white people) look the same.

Fijian Words I've Learned

1. Sona levu=big ass
2. Uji lili/levu=little/big dick (pronounced oochi)
3. Ca iji coco=fuck you (pronounced tha eechee coco)
4. Uro levu=big pig fat (this is actually what you say to girls to say 'your hot')
5. Tele=pussy
6. Mu tamu boy=in your face boy

The End of Guide School (13. nov.2006)

With guide school now behind me I'm looking forward to getting some free time. I can't wait to get my Open Water certification.

Today we had our post guide school BBQ. It was over cast. But I was still sweating like a pig and ate like one too. Our location, just down the beach from the Pearl Resort. Our food, lamb, sausage, salad, steak...all the BBQ regulars.

After Taki'ing beer (this is where everyone drinks out of the same small glass, like doing extra large beer shots) and Kava I ended up befriending these scraggly dogs. Their smell was barely tolerable, they were wet and sandy. I didn't mind so much. Although I did feel kinda weirdly obscene rubbing their bellies with their huge saggy nipples. I soon walked a short distance out of sight and proceeded to fall asleep on the beach. I awoke about an hour later and looked around and there were the dogs, like they were watching out for me. For some reason Fiji is the most exhausting place I've ever been. I am constantly tired.

Final Exams (Thurs.09.oct.2006)

Today is final exam day for the boys. Bruce and I have split them up for boat testing. I have Tobi and Josateki. So far Josateki has done very well. I'm very proud of these boys. Tobi has been very promising from the start. I'm sure he will have no problem with the tests.

After exams we had them work knots and rig and oar frame and do a Z-rig. Great, great, great.

Post exam was beach celebration time. Went down in front of the Pearl Resort and played rugby with a coconut in the surf. Then off to the Pearl's beach bar to discuss the results with Bruce.

Fever Monday.06.nov.2006

I've had a fever since Thursday. I thought my organs were going to explode. I still have cramps, to to the bathroom about every five minutes, have extremely swollen glands and a headache like whoa.

Dream: Brandon Wardle brought me out to the field behind my childhood house. He said he had to show me something. Waiting int he field was Shawn Abetta. He was holding my dad, except that he was about the size of a shoe box but fancier. Shawn was saying "I'm gonna cut him" and pulled out a straight razor. I grabbed his Adams apple and squeezed till it felt like crumbled cartilage. Brandon started slashing me and I crushed his throat as well. They both lay before me, dead.
I woke up in a pool of a bed.

Tuesday 31.october.2006

Guide school will be coming to a close in about two weeks. It's amazing how capable these boys are. It's in trying to define and add form and guidelines to what they are doing and learning where the difficulty lies.

Swimmer, swimmer, swimmer...

Again in Savutini. I got worked. Tobi, Kini and I were in an 11' boat. It was high water, really high water, pushy water. We didn't make the line I wanted and were pushed into a rock. The boat was driven up and the stern was pulled under. Tobi and I were sucked out. It happened so fast I don't really remember it, except for the part where I surfaced and saw my boat getting away from me. I remember thinking three things: first, holy shit where did my paddle go?? Second, the sieves!!! Do not go towards the sieves on river right. (These sieves are cracks in the cliff face. Water pours in there and who knows where it goes.) Third, grab the boat, get to the boat before you slip away into that crack.
I got to the boat but the water kept sucking me down. I remember hitting the first rock. It was my right shin, it felt like a crack. I remember thinking, "oh, there's that rock". Like I had been looking for it. It quickly flashed in my mind that this was a humorous thought.
I finally yelled at Kini, who was frozen and just staring at me, to get his ass in gear and get Tobi and I back in the boat before we hit that huge ledge hole.
I was in the boat just in time to reach for Tobi. I missed and watched him go over the ledge and into the hole. Luckily he was flushed out quickly. Kini and I on the other hand went over the edge. I dislocated my knee. We were surfing, running around in circles trying to keep the boat from flipping. Finally the inevitable happened, we go over.
I remember being very concerned at this point but about nothing in particular. I took a breath and then hit bottom. I felt myself rising, thinking I would be flushed out, then I was pushed back down to the bottom. This time though, I swam down and under the wave and was flushed out.
I swam to a river left eddy and scrambled up the rocks. Immediately pain set in. My knee swelled, my shins were gushing blood from golf ball sized lumps, it felt like I had chipped a bone in my ankle and I had about a gallon of water in my lungs....S.U.C.K.S.
The boat was recovered and the trip went fine. I just felt like an ass

Just Statements (24.october.2006)

I much prefer the company of women than that of men. I relate better to girls I think. I have never felt like a guys guy.

I have counted 53 mosquito bites on my left foot, 36 on my right.

Shitshow on Savutini (21.october.2006)

What a mess. Shit, shit, shit, the whole way through.

Savutini is a class four section of the Upper Navua, guides run it alone before picking up the guests below. Guiding was Moses Batarua, Moses Vocoula, Pita, Andre, Petero, Bruce, Me and the guide school boys.
First down was Pita. He ends up wrapping his boat right out of the eddy. Of coarse no gear is rigged in so things are floating on down stream. He finally makes his way after them. Next up is Moses Batarua ran no problem. Then Andre with Bruce and I in his boat. We ran safety. We made it down the left channel fine. Guide school came next. They were pushed into the rocks and wrapped, not too bad though. They get off the rock and make it down to the ledge hole. Over sideways and surfed. Stuck. Jovilisi and Josateki swam and Tobi ended up just hopping out, abandoning his boat.
Now there is an empty boat just getting worked in this hole. Surfing, flipping, spinning. Batarua decided to bump it out. Works fine, except now he is caught in the hole getting worked. Again, nothing rigged, things going everywhere. I can just imaging the guests down below watching all these items float by, then an empty boat floats by, then some guides, followed by some more items.

The rest of the day was pretty standard. Back at the office however, STRIKE. The boys decide that htey want a raise and aren't going to work unless they get it. BOOTSIE!!!!

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Nakavika Village (15-17.oct.2006)

Returning to the villa after spending three days in the Namosi highland seems surreal. Life in the bush is much slower, yet time still seems to slip by unnoticed. I stayed in Nakavika Village, I place I have come to love.

ASIDE: There are fourteen different provinces in Fiji. Each has its own dialect, so they cant understand each other, but there is a common dialect that they all learn in school. The Namosi province, Namosi meaning "Valley of Pain" was know for its warriors. It was also the last province to stop cannibalism.
A lot of our guides are from this province. The chief of this village, Leo, is 73. He used to be a police officer and a rugby player until he was injured. He is now paralyzed and has sever nerve damage and cannot use most of his body. He is still of high spirits and is a joy to be around.

During the days we would wake up early and head off to put in. Bruce and I would split off from the guests and teach guide school, stopping every chance we got to practice rescue skills with the boys. This was the first time the boys experienced inflatable Kayaks so there were plenty of chances.
The evenings were down time. I spent most of the evenings near the rugby field playing with all the village children, of which there were a thousand. These kids are tough as nails and very interested. In the village, or just in Fiji for that matter, it is not unusual for a child to wander up to you and grab your hand and cling on to you.
Dinner was usually ready by the time I was out of steam from playing with the kids. We would all grub together, laughing and teasing each other about the days uff ups. From here we all wandered down to Chief Leo's Burre for Savusavu (kava). This time it was green Kava, much stronger and more mild tasting. I didn't drink so much this time, learned my lesson at Andre's house.
Wake up early the next day and do it all over again.

Guide school boys (12.oct.2006)

Guide school will consist of:

Josateki Tanalaba (Tanalamba)
Jovilisi Taleqa (Talenga)
Tobia Matavura
Kinivuwai Ratuvio (whome we call Kini Kalavo. Kalavo is like someone who sticks around and drinks so long as you are buying, its also a rat, its also a lush...its just Kalavo)

Josateki: skinny, long faced, looks like an illustration you'd see on an old '70's funk album.
Jovilisi: yoked, stalky, hard working, doesn't give up, quite at first, intent on learning.
Tobi: assertive, confident, average looking, quickest to catch on, he is a natural.
Kini: huge language barrier, says yes to everything, even when he doesn't understand.

I love these names, soon I will love these guys too.

Grogged out (10.oct.2006)

I would love for nothing more than to just read my book and not have to worry about recording any of this crap. Like anyone is going to read it anyway.

I just arrived home from Andre and Ateca's (pronounced Atetha) house. We have been sitting on mats all night drinking Tanoa (large serving bowl, about the size of a large family size salad bowl) after Tanoa of Kava. We had Lamb sausage and noodles for dinner. The house is quite modest, two small bedrooms, kitchen and communal room together and a bathroom. Their whole house could fit into my old Steiner st. living room. As for the Kava session. Well, as I said, we all sat on mats. In the center of the room was a large Tanoa carved from a single piece of wood. Andre opened the ceremony by clasping his hands together and rotating them once in a clockwise circle over the bowl while giving thanks in Fijian, Namosi dialect.

From here we drank Bilo after Bilo (coconut cup). They mostly made me drink high tides. Before accepting the cup you must clap once, drink all in one go, and then after you say MACA (pronounced Matha). You go around and around until you can't drink anymore, are unconcious, or can't see straight.

After this session I could not control my legs. I could see them, I could see where I wanted to step, I just couldn't hit my target. I walked much like a drunk, swerving back and fourth, hitting the walls.

Kava, I think I love you.

Wainikoroluva (Luva) River 02.oct.2006

This is the more cultural experience of the trips Rivers Fiji offers. Logistically it is kind of suicide. It all starts with a two hour drive in tho the Namosi Highlands, serious bush driving, serous delirium. We end up at Nakavika Village for Savusavu with the chief. I didn't know it until we arrived at the village but one of our guides, Andre is the chiefs oldest son and is next in line. However, you'd never suspect, he is so modest. Of all the guides I have met so far Andre is the most approachable and welcoming.
Kava is a root that is pounded into a fine powder and mixed with water. It has a mild taste and makes your mouth numb and is very relaxing. It is often called Grog, cause it makes you quite groggy if you drink enough of it. It just kind of puts a cloud over everything...makes things foggy. Since I am the new guy in town I had to drink two Tsunami bowls. Now the bowls are made of coconut shells and there are low tide bowls (small), high tide (large bowls), and TSUNAMI bowls (skull sized bowls). I was very relaxed and kept chuckling while talking.
From Nakavika we head back to the bus and then to put in. For this trip we ride inflatable kayaks. It's all class II water, but what the rapids lack is made up by the scenery.
It rained all day, but this is my favorite time to raft anyway. The 'Luva River runs into the Lower Navua. We rolled our boats here and hopped into Punt boats for the ride down the Navua. These Punt boats are crazy. Only about 4' wide and 20' long and wobbly as all hell. There was also a wild boar, still alive, and tied up in the back of the boat. The driver would give an innocent smile every time the boar squealed and tried to wiggle (thrash) itself free.

Today is also the first time I've been able to eat in about two days. My butt and mouth keep erupting. Guide school starts tomorrow and I hope I am ready, both physically and mentally.

First full day in Fiji, Upper Navua Gorge, (28,sept. 2006)

I wake up after one hell of a storm. It's 5:30am. The sky looked like it might hold off on the sobbing for my first day. I don't even know where to start with the trip I went on. It felt weird to be a guest on a rafting trip. I didn't know how to act. Whatevs, I needed to learn the river before I could teach it. I couldn't help but think that I was so cool, I know this sounds lame, but the novelty of being in Fiji was hitting hard. Hitting even harder was that I was flown here to teach rafting.
The put in was about an hour and a half a way, about an hour of which was on a ridiculously sketchy dirt path....super muddy four wheeling kinda path. I couldn't help but wish that I were barefoot, feet in the mud, like Brazil. It would take some time for my feet to toughen up though.
The river temperature is in the mid 70 degree range. The gorge, oh my god, the gorge. Walls that rise straight up just under two hundred feet. Walls sometimes no wider than the boat. Jungle creeping over the edges, waterfalls (kavu) coming down all around.
I have never before drug my jaw or had to wind my tongue or rub my bulging eyes before...but this place will do that to you.
Great first day in Fiji.

Uppon arrival in Fiji (27.sept. 2006)

Hassle free arrival. Flew fetus style, center isle. Customs was a breeze. My gear smuggle went smooth. Once off the plane the humidity punched me in the face. Off the plane and into Nadi, pronounced Nandi, town. Look left, look right, cross street and almost die, car swerves, I jump. I forgot that they drive on the opposite side of the street in this country. I feel like a stupid American. I feel like the rest of the world feels about Americans. Bruce meets me beside the Range Rover. He and I will be teaching guide school to four of five Fijian boys. I say boys, but really some are older than I am.
Bruce, Tom (bossilevu), Bosilio and I went to go and talk to one of the Mataqali (pronounced Matangali) about a couple of the boys. We had to wear a Sulu (like a serong) in the presence of the villagers and the Chief. No Savusavu, Kava ceremony this time, that will have to wait. My curiosity is overwhelming.

Sundays in Fiji

Dang, Sunday is the longest day ever in Fiji. Nothing is open. Everyone is either sleeping or at church all day, Fiji is the most religious place I've ever been. Today I will set up all the tents and record their rips and tears and broken zippers. Drinking beer the whole way. Tidbit: (Roommate Erik heard about the coup and flipped. Thought stores were going to be closed/looted and therefore there would be no food. He rushed to the store and proceeded to buy $500 worth of Fiji Gold...the worst beer that the fosters group could make). Now the burre, where I sleep is stacked with cases of beer....