Sunday, June 10, 2007

A letter from fiji home...

From: "Anna Teisen" <>
Subject: Village trip!
>Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2007 22:20:01 +0000

After a long bouncy trip sitting in the back of the lorry with lots of fijians finally arrived at Nakavika village, my family I’m staying with meet me and take me to my house. All the houses are made out of corrugated iron and are built on wooden stilts, i had the biggest house in the village, but that still would be tiny compared to our concrete statues in england! 

Quickly got introduced to all the family (who cant speak english v well) and then just as quickly forgot all their names! my fijian mother had one tooth and I’m supposed to call her 'lay' which means mum, and dad is 'now' there are 
about 60/70 houses and about 300/400 people,who all seem to be related, so you can imagine how big the families are (i think there was about 25 people staying in my house!!) they don’t have clocks or anything so they tell their time by the chickens in the morning and when it gets dark they eat (its 
dark at 6 o'clock) the first few days it rained so much constant rain and walking around in bare feet wasn’t nice (not allowed to wear shoes) thick mud up to my knees all the time! i wasn't allowed to wear my own clothes, all the girls have to wear a sulu which is basically a sarong, and a T-shirt. 

First things first we have to have a kava ceremony with the 
chief!! now the chief is not a huge strapping fit fijian who will protect the village dressed in war paint and a grass skirt, he is a very old man, and he cant stand up, he wears a dressing gown with a hood up and sits on the floor with a table over his legs and cant move, he stayed like that for 
the entire week! we had to sit around and listen to lots of prays and chanting in fijian to 'accept us into the village' for dinner we all sit on the floor with a long mat running down the middle with the food on, you eat with your hands and the food is very very different, but still edible! 
The family would sit and watch me eat and force me to eat as much as possible and then they would share the left overs between them all after...also they gave me pretty much the only bed in the house which was lay and nows and they all slept on the floor! 
So as u can imagine, it was a bit like being the queen! they were very very religious, so lots of grace etc etc and didn’t like the fact that when they asked lindsay what religion she was she said she was an atheist! so i said i was a christian and they loved me until i got asked to say a pray for the family and couldn’t think of one (my plan foiled!) 

My fijian sister tends to look after me the most, she comes with me everywhere, wether its to the toilet, to get changed, 
anything! she was about 24 with 3 kids and spoke the most english, her name was Dianamaria. so quite literally i had to hand myself over to the family and was now not in control of what i was doing or wearing or even going to the loo was up to them! in the day we would have our breakfast again on the 
floor and go to teach in the schools, this time we had to wear traditional dress which i loved! it was a big colourful dress with a sulu underneath! very bright and meant i didn’t have to make my clothes smell of the village (they seemed to smell of,lots of BO, bad breath, dampness, mud, and generally animals, oh and white spirit) 
I taught the kindergarden the first day which were brats and just climbed all over me and because we had to drink kava all night before i was so tried!! Kava is basically a plant that they grow and then dry out (looks like mushrooms) and then grind and mix with water and you have to drink it out of half a coconut, it tastes like a cross between, tea, coffee, anaceed and mud, but makes you very very sleepy, its banned in england!!! but we couldn't really tell them that. when you drink it you have a server and u, the server says bula anna, and you say bula whoever and then you clap your hands once, the server then sits in front of u with their back to u and claps 3 times whilst u drink your kava and then u both say 
‘mathee!’ with means empty! and it gets a bit tedious after the first night! 

Took lots of photos, the kids love cameras and all do peace signs and love looking back at the picture on the digital camera! the next day i taught in primary school, the letter O, so drew lots of octopuses, ostriches, oranges etc on the board and sang lots of songs! i also taught some of the older 
ones (about 8 years old) about digestion, i was quite impressed with what i could remember, again did lots of drawing on the board and made them draw it in their books, we had to take the classes ourselves so when it got to 
maths lessons we really confused them!!! trying to teach ratio to kids who can’t speak english is a bit of challenge especially when you don’t know what they already know and don’t know! but by the time we left the village we had though-roughly confused them all!

In the afternoons we coached netball to the girls, and then to all the moms of the village! i played in their team one day and didn’t realise how unfit i was, there’s no pitch or anything, just two goals on very muddy grass so its very hard to tell them when they were offside etc! but they were quite good, they have a match next week against the other village so we prepared them for it!

Other things i did when i was there, witnessed them killing a pig (was horrible and the screaming almost made me a vegetarian again!) luckily we didn’t eat pork when we were there at all! we went and swam in a river, cut firewood and carried it back on my back in a rucksack made out of palm 
tree leaves and trips of the bark for string! someone saw a rat above my bed, so for the whole week i heard scratching and sniffing above my head...not very nice!
I’m so glad to be back in civilization with phones, 
internet, showers and cleanness!! it was an amazing experience but I don’t think I would do it again in a hurry...maybe in a few years. When i left my lay came to me crying with a woven mat she had made out of palm trees for me as a souvenir, its ace, its quite big to carry around for the next 3 weeks though!

This morning we are off on our travels around the islands! so a very long bus journey awaits me followed by a very long ferry ride, in england that would be fine but remember the buses and ferries are a lot different here!

Thankyou for your emails i really enjoy reading them makes me feel less like I’m on the other side of the world!
>lots of love, moce (‘bye’ pronounced mothay)
>Anna x x x x x

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