Hosting PCTs

This past week I hosted two Peace Corps Trainees for their host volunteer visit. They are halfway through pre-service training, a month down and a month to go until they are sent off to various parts of Fiji to serve. I’m real excited for this new group – fresh faces, plenty energy.

I always love any excuse to show off my site, Sabeto. Frankly, it’s awesome, and it’s that simple.

I met the two, Charles (a very chill Californian) and Ethan (a happy-go-lucky Kansan) in Nadi on Tuesday afternoon, and we filled our arms with groceries. We decided to dine before we did their sevusevu, and so I made my signature spaghetti, which seemed to have gone down well. Then we started grogging at 6:30.  At 8, I just managed to catch my man Don before he took off for the hot springs, and we went to the village meeting in Narokorokoyawa to ask for help for our dictionary project.

We continued grogging at the village hall, and when it came our turn, Don and I spoke on the dictionary. There were disappointingly but unsurprisingly few people/elders at the meeting, but the momo ni yavu (clan chief) offered his help. Next week, we’ll go to the village meeting in Koroiaca, on the other side of the village, which is a bigger village and is usually better-attended. Anyway, Ethan, Charles, Don and I hung out at the village meeting for a few hours, slinging back the grog, until 10 or 11 or so, and went home for washdown (a few beers) and sleep.

On Wednesday, we started off with school work – Sister Margaret, a Catholic nun, came to work with the nonreaders, and sent the better-off kids to us to read books one-on-one. We read with kids for about two hours, and when Sister Margaret left, we went around the village, saying hi to folks and checking out our badass chief’s bure. Then we lunched, and chatted with Don, whom agreed to go to the hot springs with us. We took the lead, heading to the farm, to kick it with the guys there and just see what it was all about.

Livai was busy at the farm, but Veni and Krishnil/Chodhtu showed us around. Ethan was real into it, seems he wants to get involved in ag stuff. Good stuff. I asked if we could help with anything the next day, and they said to come in the morning. After, we went on to the hot springs, possibly the greatest perk of my site. Ethan and Charles did the mudbath part, and I took the obligatory photos. Then we all relaxed in the hot springs, and Ethan fooled the kids and me with a fake nose-breaking trick.

Caught the bus back, only the driver decided to go to Lautoka instead of the village, and dumped the busload of folks at the junction while it was raining. Things happen. So we walked to the village junction and I paid a driver two dollars to take us to the school. Made tuna burgers with tomato and cheese, which also went down well (you’ll soon see why I’m bragging about these successful meals). We hung out, slept.

Thursday morning we woke up a bit late but headed to the farm, where we helped Chodhtu with the compost cooking – they steam composted pig manure to kill the seeds and bugs – and Chodhtu got us some bu (drinkable coconuts) in exchange for Ethans help in dumping the heavy compost bags. Instead of waiting two hours for the steam to rise, we decided to check out Lautoka and get a nice restaurant meal. The boys got themselves some hamburgers (though not as jumbo as hoped for) and we checked out the seawall. Then we caught a movie – The Martian, I recommend it – and bussed back to Sabeto.

Then I decided to go a little nuts, and tried to make moca (kinda like spinach) soup. I just chopped it and added water and put it on to boil. After nearly an hour, the question was raised of what exactly was happening with the soup, and my soup-making was revealed to be a fraud. ‘Twas merely spinach water. Charles attempted to save it, but it was past redemption. We managed to choke down more than half of it, though, and I am confident the compost pile will be greatly appreciative of the rest.

Friday morning we watched the assembly and I dropped them at the bus station on the road. Overall, it was a fun experience. I’m excited to have new volunteers around – there should be two to four in Lautoka and possibly one in a village near Nadi. If I extend, I will be with these volunteers until we COS together.

It’s also nice to have fresh energy and perspectives. They are open, curious, optimistic, all excellent things. Plus Ethan left me a big jar of Skippy peanut butter, so that was real nice, and one of my students walked by selling some cheap honey, so my condiment game is back on.

This morning I went to church after skyping Dan, who starts basic training with the military tomorrow, but the church was full and I didn’t feel like sitting on the pavilion outside so I wandered around until I found some kids on a mat under the tree. Perfect, napped away the grog from the last two nights – until a crawler began bawling, and my attempts at soothing him failed.

I’ve got a lot to do this week – get back on my dictionary game, work at the farm, restart computer classes, replace one of the vines I hung from my window. Generally speaking, I’m feeling good, and comfortable in my place. I still sometimes just feel like staying home and reading a book or the news, but forcing myself to go out to the village – such as the marriage function on Friday night – is usually a very good thing to do. I love grog – because the social pressure to talk feels lower, even though people may tell me “talanoa, Tomasi”, a few hours into the grog everyone is very relaxed and nothing really matters. You can make a joke or just listen to others’, it all works.

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