Friday, March 25, 2016

So, Fiji.  I am enamored.  We are in Suva, the capital city.  It is on a bit of a peninsula, and a cool sea breeze blows all day long.  The light has a different quality here-- somehow things have more contrast, more clarity.  At first there was something about the light  that puzzled me, until I remembered that the sun  appears to be moving in a different direction than I am used to because we are below the equator.

We flew into Nadi, then took a smaller plane across the country.  The interior of Fiji is a continuous roll of mountains, starting out brown and  then becoming green and jungley.  Suva is ringed by more mountains, and slopes down to the harbor where huge ships and smaller fishing boats dock.  There are a lot of similarities to Belize-- Fiji is also a former British colony-- so the architecture feels very familiar.  Schools are built the same, the school children all wear uniforms, the trees and plants are the same.  It was quite disorienting driving from the airport, seeing so much that looked familiar, yet driving on the “wrong” side of the road.  Also, lots of men wear sulus-- which are basically wrap skirts.  Still getting used to that.

We are incredibly lucky to have a nice place to stay.  It is within a few blocks of  a lot of shops (including a store which  is like a Costco and a McDonalds… such a different world).  Also, we have hot water and AIR CONDITIONING.  Basically, this is a luxury resort for us.  It’s amazing how well you can cope with the heat and humidity when you know there is a nice cool bedroom you can retreat to.  And the heat and humidity  can be overwhelming-- it has been around 90-95 degrees daily, with similar humidity. We missed a few weeks of the semester, but it worked out the best for us, since Fiji was hit by a category 5 typhoon a few weeks ago.  Suva did not get a lot of damage comparatively, but there still was near 200 mile per hour winds, trees down, roofs off, and no electricity.  Parts of the country were completely flattened.  Here in Suva, you can see spaces where huge trees were knocked down, but other than that you would never know such a huge storm recently hit.  It would have been very, very scary to have been here during the typhoon with the 2 girls.  We are still dealing with rolling electricity and water outages, which can be frustrating, but since parts of the country still haven’t had electricity restored since the typhoon we can’t complain.

The University campus is really incredible.  It is quite large, and paths and bridges wind through huge, vine covered trees. Palms, oversize ferns and lots of really large bats flying around during the day make it seem like a prehistoric jungle.  The buildings are architecturally very interesting, with lots of tropical influences.

Daniel is one of only a few students in his class, and he is enjoying it, although he is working non-stop to make up for the 3 weeks he missed.   The semester is being held here in Fiji because there are a lot of industrial farms, and the class will go on field trips to visit.  I’m quite jealous Daniel will get to see so much of the country!

Internet here is very intermittent, and I've been slow to take out my nice camera because I'm mostly hauling around both girls and don't have an extra hand.  But I've got lots to share, so hopefully I'll be able to post again soon!


  1. I love this so much! Thank you for posting the update, Cathleen! What an incredible adventure. And your girls couldn't be more precious! Someday maybe we can visit Belize and all our kids can play together. Maybe? A girl can dream.

    1. For sure Sarah! When we move back we will hopefully build a house with lots of guest room!

  2. Dearest Cathleen, thanks so much for posting this! ABSOLUTELY CLASSIC. I read the LA airport scene out loud to my mom (I'm home for the Benedictine College vocation fair), and we were dying by the end.
    You and Daniel and the girls are definitely in my prayers. I'm so grateful for the visit to Belize in the Fall and getting to spend time with you all.
    Looking forward to continued adventures!
    Love, Sr. Mary Elizabeth


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