BBQ world champions!

Trip Start Sep 27, 2004
Trip End Sep 27, 2005

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Thursday, November 4, 2004

Have been chilling in Suva far too long for my liking and am well overdue for a trip away. That said there are still loads of things to keep me occupied over the weekends. Last weekend was actually one of the most enjoyable since I have been here, for the pure fact that it was so simple.

On Saturday I headed up the coast to Pacific Harbor to do a spot of fishing with my housemate and fellow ambassador Rebecca's workmates. At the cost of $5 to cover "rods" and bait the fishing trip was bargain basement to say the least, but it was the type of experience that money doesn't buy. Sorry Britney you missed out! Continuing my run of early mornings never before seen in Australia, we set off to meet at the markets at 7am. After meeting Bec's colleagues with customary smiles, awkward silences and weak handshakes we set off around the market. There is no such thing as an awkward silence in Fiji I have discovered, conversations are punctuated frequently by lengthy pauses and vacant stares, but not to worry it's all part of the fun! I had previously prided myself on getting the best "local" prices for produce, unfortunately this was not the case. Where I had been bargaining down to around 75% the price theses guys were getting things at less than half. Made me realize how much of a tourist I still am here, it will take longer than a month to become a local that's for sure, but actually most of the vendors aren't very well off so I'm fairly happy to pay their expanded "sucker prices". Just doing a little bit extra for the country while I'm here, perhaps Australia should start a new indirect approach to foreign aid and just send Australians around the world to pay more than the market value for goods in developing nations!

After buying our food we boarded the most rocking bus I have encountered, in this country of rocking busses this was a standout. Sporting 4 massive pioneer amps a brand new alpine head unit and 16 6inch Kenwood speakers we were wired for sound. One only wishes they spent similar money on other less essential items such as tires with tread, brakes, or tune-ups. Not to worry, if we break down we will be assured of at least an hours musical entertainment until the battery goes flat.

After an hour of bopping on the bus my new friends and I arrived at our destination, and were getting along famously. It is such a testament to the culture of Fiji that people are just so damn friendly. It is seriously nuts they way they just make you feel at ease and accept you into their group without even trying. They had great fun teaching me various Fijian phrases on our walk to the beach, before breaking out the aforementioned fishing "rods". My rod was of the up-market power aid variety as opposed to the more standard 600ml coke bottle model. Equipped with my improvised hand reel I proceeded to entertain with my frequent renditions of "how to fuck up casting". A few hours later and my casting had improved no end, but to no avail. Despite the long history of keen anglers in my family (Hi Dad!!), my great fishing prowess had not managed to land a single fish. I did see some amazing little stripey ones, surprisingly called zebra fish, however it seems that anything edible was frustratingly elusive.

Sun stopped play and fishing was canceled due to rapidly decreasing players comfort levels. After a quick swim we headed off up the road "400m", which actually turned out to be 40 MINUTES, bus my new friend Epi pointed out, the walk goes much quicker if there is a good conversation. On our way we came across a tribe of local kids jumping off a bridge into the river, ever the daredevil I enquired if the water was deep. I was informed that the water was "very deep". After pushing off a few "test children", none of whom sustained spinal injuries, I took the plunge. It was probably only about 10 meters but there is something about jumping into a river of unknown depth in the middle of nowhere that plays on your mind. I seem to remember being warned that 90% of traveler deaths are caused by accidents, but as I rightly reasoned this wasn't an accident at all, I had CHOSEN to jump from the bridge so I should be fine. I was fine and we continued on our merry way, reaching the quaint home of "Dr Jo" and his lovely Nicaraguan wife.

14:00 HOURS.
MISSION: Prepare barbeque for combustion. Marinade and burn 7 kilos of chops for the use of. Consume said chops and perform extraction at 19:00 hours.

These people can sure have a barbeque. We as Australians can learn from these people. Someone should have been making an instructional video, or perhaps I should pitch to channel 10 the latest reality TV hit, "International Barbie". Teams from around the globe compete to prepare the ultimate barbeque. Iron Chef backyard style! Preparations were a true team effort punctuated by beers and small afternoon naps by inactive members of the team. All this culminated in one of the most impressive babies I have seen and eaten.

BBQ sitting heavy in our stomachs we headed back to Suva on an inferior bus with "Pearl Harbor" as our in flight entertainment. Even 14 rows back with the sound cutting in and out I could see why this film was such a massive flop. After arriving back in Suva it was time to finish another novel before going to bed.

Sunday dawned and we made our preparations to go sailing for the day. Bec, Dave and I had been invited out to crew on sail boats much to my delight. I bemoaned the lack of boat shoes and Ralph Lauren polo in my wardrobe and cobbled together my best sailing outfit, expecting a luxuriating day cruising the coast. This was not to be, shortly after arriving we realized that these "Hobie Cats" were the sailing equivalent to Formula Ford racing cars (Sarah have you been for your driving course yet?). Hobie cats are 16 feet long and require 2 passengers who spend basically the entire ride strapped into a harness hanging parallel from the water, trying to keep one hull just touching the water and stopping the boat flipping over. Suffice to say it was absolutely great fun, they are wicked little boats and will definitely be going sailing again soon. I think the experience was improved by the fact that the wind was moderate and the temperature idyllic. During rest periods we stopped at an island that you could walk around in 1 minute. Nearby was the prison Island where recent Coup leader George Speight is being kept. apparently this is a bit of a shame because it's actually a really nice island but nobody except legal advisors can go there anymore. Interestingly one of the sailors was George Speights ex-girlfriend, she and her husband run the restaurant at the Yacht club at which we dined at that night. The Yacht club is rich expat central, middle to retirement age guys with much younger wives seemed to be the norm. The food and beer is cheap however, and the view and setting of the place is just amazing.

Tuesday I was invited up to the Australian High Commission for Melbourne Cup Day. In true cup spirit I knocked off work early and headed to the op shop to pick up some race fashion. One blue pinstripe suit, a bright yellow shirt and matching ladies hat later I was ready to wow the other guests! Upon entering the AHC I did have misgivings about my choice of dress but it ended up being a big hit, taking out the prize for best dressed male. The day was an absolute blast! I made a lot of connections on the DFAT staff and some in the British embassy too...I think three middle age British ladies were particularly captivated as I had them hanging on my every word! Many more champagnes were consumed on our way to intoxication, finishing up around 1am, definitely bed time on a school night. I woke up with hazy recollections, a bottle of champagne, a wooden horse, some men's skin care products and a nice little hangover!

Have spent the rest of this week just working and doing a bit of running. Trying to get my fitness up a little bit for the soccer season. The prospect of playing soccer in 30 degree heat, with stupid levels of humidity, scares me slightly, so I am trying to prepare as best I can. Currently finishing off the website that I have been working on and getting acquainted with the Oracle DB programming package. I have Also been doing a small amount of VB and Microsoft Access (shudder) work.

Thanks for all the emails guys its great to hear from people especially news from Adelaide, I love to hear about people's latest escapades out on the town. I will be living vicariously through you people this year as I anticipate my full scale partying to be fairly limited.
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