17.000km away – 12hrs ahead – 35°C
I´d already known that my accommodation would not be modern and noble, but I hadn´t expected it to be so paltry. I wasn´t exactly prepared to sleep with mosquito nets, neither was I pleased to find cockroaches in the shower, the toilet and my room. Moreover, by now I´m also annoyed by the lizards that wouldn´t let me sleep at night as they´re making loud and strange noises that can be compared to a bird tweeting right into your ear. Apart from that, I knew that life here would be very different to life in Europe, but I underestimated the situation a bit, and I can now understand the term “culture shock”. And I figured that sometimes it´s only the small things that make you feel uncomfortable, e.g. different foods or walking barefoot all day long wherever you go… The jet-lag, the heat, and the culture made it hard for me the first couple of days and, to be honest, I felt as if I was in the wrong place. But I guess, that´s part of the adventure. A friend of mine told me a couple of days before I left: “In strange situations one gotta think: If I survive this unscathed, it will at least make a good story…” I truly see the meaning behind it now…I´ve been here for only 3 days and there are already so many stories and experiences to share. 🙂
Another thing I discovered to be significant in Fiji: FOOD. Breakfast is usually poor. For lunch, you may have some sandwiches or something cooked, but dinner is like being fed off for the rest of the week. And the food is not healthy at all. You eat everything mixed – rice with ketchup, spaghetti with bread. Especially carbohydrates are essential for Fijians. This may also be the reason why overweight is a common issue here. A lot of volunteers here are fighting against putting on weight by going to the fitness club in Suva. You can purchase a one-month-membership-card for only $25, which is 12€ and I´m seriously considering to do that myself. However, I doubt that a proper “work-out” in this heat might actually “work out”. 😉
Everything Is Packed
Anyways, Suva is not that big of a city, but pretty packed, which means it is crowded wherever you go. Buses are packed. Shops are packed. Streets are packed. And the worst location is Suva Bus Station, which is the central bus station in the city center. I´ve never been to India, but you´d get a pretty good idea of Suva if you pictured one of those Indian cities like Mumbai or New Delhi that you may have seen on television sometime. Dirty. Stinky. Crowded. However, for some reason, the city creates a pleasant atmosphere itself, probably because of the people, who are extremely friendly and generous.
Today is Monday, Oct 29th and it was supposed to be my first day at work, but my volunteer induction started at 11 am instead of 9 am (Fiji-Time woohoo 🙂 ), so there was no time left to go to the project placement. Instead, I was offered lunch. Well… that´s Fiji. 😉
In the afternoon, my roommate came back home from work carrying a huge package of Schmidt Lebkuchen that was sent over by her grandparents, who thought it would be nice to create some Christmas atmosphere in Fiji. I´ve honestly never seen so many different flavors of gingerbread in my whole life, and it is just the weirdest thing ever to be able to taste them all on the other side of the world, where Xmas doesn´t even seem to be a topic yet.
Au sa liu mada! (Speak soon)