things i have gained in Fiji

  1. a flawless tan, but only from my kneecaps to my toes
  2. an appreciation for sharing food, be it neighbors kind dinner deliveries or learning to always invite passersby to tea and meals
  3. more than a year and a half in age, with six more months to go. I am now an old man at 23 1/2, compared to my spry youth of 21 and 3/4 when I began this adventure.
  4. a very nice Fijian mat, complete with colorful yarn edging, which my turaga ni koro gave me after I hinted heavily that I was looking for one
  5. dad jokes, which I now make all the time
  6. the ability to cook chilli, which is like the American version of curry, insofar as that it can be made from nearly anything. it’s basically beans, spices and whatever the f*ck you have on your counter/in your garden/at your neighbors
  7. very limited skills in an extremely localized dialect, which will get me precisely nowhere as soon as I leave the 2,000 people of Sabeto
  8. a personal-sized French press, a most gorgeous instrument and utterly necessary to my morning routine
  9. a mysterious (possibly fungal?) skin condition, known to a few volunteers up north, which is creating light spotting
  10. a little more patience for the everyday bullshit. of course no one has showed up to the meeting half an hour after the start time; and no, I’m sorry, I’m not going to marry your niece.
  11. the capacity to explain the Confederate flag to non-Americans, after I found that my headteacher had one up in his house, the meaning of which he was unfamiliar. “It’s a nice flag”, he said.
  12. much tougher feet, as a result of going barefoot all day, every day, on gravel, grass and riverbeds. the most recent person to tell me to wear shoes was the doctor, but the last time I stepped on the sharp end of a tack it just bent under my heel.
  13. an interest in climate change, after Cyclone Winston battered the living shit out of Fiji, from Savusavu to Ra to Nadarivatu, and floods killed two people in my area.
  14. half of a moustache, because apparently we can’t all be our facial hair endowed fathers.
  15. a love for Rewa butter, which is so rich and so salty that the Ministry of Health recommends margarine over it.

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