Friday, April 26, 2013

Farewelling Rotuma


Its been a VERY long time....

WAY too long a disappearance  to qualify as a “Professional Blogger”, so apologies to my keen readers for my absence...

I guess its partly because nothing SUPER exciting has been happening (well, actually there is one thing...), or maybe I’ve become a bit of a Rotuman hermit in my way of life- just living the days away, doing what needs to be done, feeling a bit lazy to do beyond them, and perhaps I didn't want to bore you with the mundane-ity of life here.

But here I am, feeling the need to somehow summarize the past 10 months as we are leaving in under a weeks and heading back to the land of Oz. The kids and I will be leaving first, and Carl will follow 2 weeks later, in the hope that he manages to finish the house.

The house is looking amazing! Still quite a bit of work to be done, and even if we do manage to finish the basics so it is liveable, it will be years of ongoing work to finish and maintain it, landscape and beautify it. Luckily we have a lifetime ahead of us, and the occasional desperate needs to escape western civilization to an isolated island for some R&R...

At the moment, it seems like the “Gods of house completion” aren’t really on our side, as we have loads of hardware  coming on the next boat, which will only arrive (hopefully) in the second week of May. Nobody knows for sure when it will come. Very Rotuman.  We are also experiencing severe power cuts during the day due to lack of fuel for the islands electricity generators, which doesn’t allow Carl and crew to use the power tools they need for their work, and we don’t have any fuel left for our small generator, so that slows things down a lot, but hey- nothing unusual... the power cuts are only going to get worst in the next few days when they will need to use the islands generators fuel to power the islands water pumps... I guess having water is more important than having electricity...
 

The kids are super excited to go back home, as am I, mainly to reconnect with family and friends, and to eat crispy fresh apples, broccoli and divine cheeses (call me weird...).

The kids are mainly excited to see their uncle Terry (who has been promising them weekend festivals of waffles and ice cream and lollies and toys and everything their hearts desire- the poor deprived kids...), their little cousins, their scooters and Pizza (with bacon, Prosciutto, olives- lots of, to be precise)!

Noah is returning with his 2 front teeth missing (and yes- the tooth fairy DOES fly all the way to Rotuma, in case you were wondering!), and Saulei with a broken Collar bone from a fall(well, we’re assuming its broken- the hospital was short on X-ray fluid so on the one they managed to take we could JUST barely see a break in his little Clavicle) so he just has to wear a sling for the next 4 weeks.

Our last couple of weeks here have been a challenge in terms of food supplies, the shops are empty, we’re out of the basics (flour, sugar, rice, oil, eggs etc) and the next boat is still 3 weeks away, so its all about improvising on what I can feed my family for the next 2 weeks... Fish, wild chickens, Cassava, Dalo, Bele (local spinach leaves),Pawpaws and coconuts. And thats it! I'm sure this sounds exotic and healthy and wonderful from afar, but with fussy eaters for kids, and a foodie snob like moi- I AM BLOODY WELL OVER IT!!!!!!! My only consolation is that its only for 1 more week. And as soon as I touch down in Oz I will have all my heart desires and craves and more!!

Its quite challenging for a Jewish mother like myself to have to say no to my kids when they ask for something to eat, because that something was designated for a meal tomorrow or next week and that’s all we have... thankfully and gratefully I have never in my life been in a situation where I have to hold back on eating or feeding my kids, because there just isn’t anything to eat...  and its not like there ISN’T anything to eat here, its just that eating dry boring cassava when coming home from school all hungry tired and grumpy- isn’t the most desirable thing for a kid. Or myself.

Mind you, we still have loads of Chocolate, Nori paper for sushi, condiments, herbs and spices and lots of stuff that we received from my stunning family and friends or that we brought when we came over- but not much to cook with it all. The irony...

But hey- I'm sure I will be looking back on this all and laughing one day, especially when I see spoilt kids back home who complain they don’t have this or that, when actually they have no idea what it feels like “not to have”...


The past 10 months have been such a huge eye opener to me, and with all the challenges and difficulties I've had to face, putting all my winging and complaining aside, I feel extremely privileged to have experienced it all, and it has made me a much stronger and improved person.

So here is a list of the things I have learnt and feel grateful for, in ore of, and enriched due to:

·         THE BEAUTY OF PRAYER- I've never been a religious person, never really connected with praying or a God of any definition or name, but being here and seeing how these simple and content people find so much joy and peace in their connection to the lord (although at times, a lot of times, it is way over the top to me!).  The gesture of showing and feeling gratitude for what we have, the things that I always took for granted and didn’t know to appreciate so much until I've seen or experienced a lack of it, has been very humbling for me. A simple pause before digging into a plate of food- to acknowledge the fact that we actually HAVE a plate of food, to acknowledge the forces of nature who helped supply the food, the hands that worked hard to gather and prepare it. A simple pause and a little prayer in my heart or out loud is one thing I will take home with me.

·         THE GENEROSITY OF FAMILY- Carls Uncle Varo and Aunt Aggie have accommodated us in their home for the whole time we have been here. They have so peacefully accepted us into their lives as their own family and helped us so much in making this project happen. From months and months of Physically draining work Varo has done with Carl, to months of living with my crazy feral children and my moods and fussiness on Aggies behalf... I don’t know any other person or culture that is capable of doing this.

Us “westerners” are so precious about what is “ours”- our time, our space, our things... we say we would like to live in “community” but are we really capable? Are we really able to hold back on OUR personal needs and opinions in order to keep the peace and harmony  in our community? Think about it...

To be completely honest with myself, I don’t think I would ever be able to do what Varo and Aggie have done for us, and I feel so much gratitude to them for all that they are.

·         FRIENDS- Although I have had moments here of such dark loneliness- being the social person I am who thrives on my relationships with people, those moments have been lit up by a few individuals who have been different to the rest- in that they aren’t afraid of the “Henfisi” (white woman), and have been dear dear friends to me. Namely- Fotfiri- the mother of Noah and Saulei’s little girlfriends, who is the most beautiful, simple and humble woman, and has taught me so much about Rotuman culture and life, who has taken me into the sea to gather “Lumi” (seaweeds) to eat, and shown me many more treasures of the reefs, and who has just been there to hang out, when I needed to have another woman around me in this very male dominated environment.

And my wonderful friend Sineva, who came to Rotuma with her family for a few months over Xmas time, and was the only woman I have met here who actually “Got me”- who understood the feeling of alienation- being Samoan and not Rotuman, who actually TALKS about feelings! Who has been to and knows where I come from, who is the most amazing mother of 8 gorgeous and successful kids, who has taught me so much about serenity, surrender and acceptance, and who will forever be in my heart!

·         SURRENDER AND ACCEPTANCE/LETTING GO AND FORGIVING- I have learnt that when living on such a small island, or in a small community, one really needs to know how to let go of their ego in order to contribute to the peace of the collective. One needs to surrender formal beliefs, desires and ways in order to “fit in”, to be a part of, and to contribute to the community. Especially in a foreign culture- where life is so different to what we are accustomed to, one needs to simply accept their ways, and accept that one cant always challenge or change those ways, even when ones intentions are pure and for the “betterment” of society,  as these attempts could be more frustrating than fruitful.

There will always be people who will do you wrong, upset you, betray your trust and take advantage of you, but in a small community- if you start “collecting” those people in your bad books and keep them there, you might end up very lonely and isolated. Letting go and forgiving is far better an option, as hard as it might be.

·         PATIENCE- one of the BIGGIES I've had to learn, after months and weeks of utter frustration, aggravation and irritation... “Island Time” is REAL, it is a concept of time so foreign to us in our busy, functional, efficient western society. What takes a customer service person 5 minutes to change flight dates over the phone in Oz, will take about an hour, over several conversations to do the same thing here. When someone says they’ll come over at 3pm, the number usually indicates how many hours late they will be, if they bother to turn up at all (obviously not letting us know if they don’t!). If I'm told that something will be ready next week- it usually means that next week they might let us know if they can do it at all... and I can go on.

These things happen so often, that at some point I realized that instead of getting SO pissed off about these things, getting worked up and angry at people, I’m better off preparing myself in advanced that things wont go as planned, and to prepare a plan B, or C, D, E, F and G!

 

·         LONELINESS AND ISOLATION- without going into too much detail and dragging you into my internal turmoils, being an island on an island is one of the hardest things I've had to confront here. But within this experience, with no other choice- I've had to dig super deep to find all the golden inner resources to help myself, in the absence of frequent direct contact with my beloved family and friends from whom I have always gained so much support. I am grateful and fortunate to have never had to feel loneliness like this in the past, and I am grateful and fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn and find my inner strength to help me become a solid, (semi)sane island on an island...

·         CARLS WILL DETERMINATION AND ENDURANCE- I've been married to Carl for just over 10 years now, so I think I kinda know him and get what he’s about. I've always known he is a very hard worker, with an exceptionally strong work ethic and a very particular perfectionist attitude in doing everything he does. But during this whole project he has totally BLOWN ME AWAY and I doubt I could find words to describe his will, internal and external stamina, and perseverance with the work he has achieved here. I have never known or heard of another human being who has been challenged so hard in so many ways, yet still taking it all is his stride and finding a solution or a way to achieve his goal. The physical and mental strength he has revealed to me and everyone around us is beyond human!!!! I don’t think anyone, besides those who have been working with him, or those of you who have been here during this process-could ever grasp the magnitude of this project, the continuous challenges he has had to overcome, the excruciating work conditions, the mind boggling mental work, and I can go on and on... my admiration and respect for Carl has peaked, and I am so damn proud of him!

·         KIDS FREEDOM- a massive treasure of their childhood which I doubt they would have experienced anywhere else. The freedom at their ages (6 & 4) to run around outside all day and play on their own, or to run up or down the road to their friends and disappear for the whole day without me having to worry about them, as I know they will always be looked after, fed and cared for by someone in the village. Of course them being the only “Fafisi” (white) kids on the island makes it a bit of a novelty for the locals, but it is very humbling to know my kids are gaining their independence and trust for the world in such a relaxed and carefree environment.  I am kinda dreading going back to Sydney and having to watch them all the time- watch they stay off the road, make sure they don’t “disturb anyone’s peace” with their boisterous boyzie ways, keep them quiet so to not disturb the neighbours, etc etc...

·         SIMPLICITY OF BEING- it has taken a very long time for me to feel content with not “doing”. Even though being an (un)glorified housewife is not my ideal life goal, being it here has awarded me a very unique serenity, which again, I doubt I could have achieved at home. With no where to go, no external stimulation, no transport to take me around the island, nothing interesting happening anywhere... I've learnt to appreciate just being. Being at home, getting my daily routines done, resting when I need to and not pushing myself to achieve another task, playing with the kids, s-i-m-p-l-i-c-i-t-y. You should try it sometime...

·         SHARING SURPLUSES- In a place where at times there is such abundance of foods, it is great to be able to share and be shared with when possible, allowing everyone to enjoy the treasures and treats of this place. Huge bunches of bananas that ripen all at once, Soursops falling off the trees, so many Pawpaws ripening on the trees that the birds get to eat more than us, too many fish hunted on a good day by Carl, and so on- things are always shared around, given away, and what goes around always comes around.... Baskets of pineapples and watermelons, boxes of avocados, bags of oranges and limes... if we don’t grow something ourselves, someone else does and will always bring some around for us. I LOVE that!

·         FRIENDS AND FAM SENDING STUFF- how unlucky I am to be such a foodie- deprived of all things treat and gourmet on a faraway island. But how totally LUCKY I am to have such amazing family and friends who make the effort to send me amazing parcels of all things divine to satisfy my craving belly!!! YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE – and I am so grateful for the little things that have made my stay here sweeter and have brought me closer to home and to those who care so much. Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!

·         APPRECIATE WHAT I HAVE LIVED AND HAD BEFORE HERE- many-a-conversations have been spoken about my life before here, the privileges of growing up with a loving supportive family, never lacking anything, being exposed to the world and all its wonders, travelling all over the globe, given the opportunity of an education, freedom, choices and so on. We so often take these things for granted when not having experienced life in any other way. Being here has given me a deeper insight and understanding of my fortune, when comparing it to those who have no idea of a life beyond the shores of this island.

·         APPRECIATE WHAT WE HAVE HERE FROM NOW ON- in the rare moments when I manage to slap myself and get over the challenges of here, I take a step back and look at what we have and what our future holds for us: a beautiful handmade home, overlooking the grand pacific ocean, on a tiny isolated island, with so much space, freedom, peace, unlimited coconuts, growing or hunting for our own food, no stress, shall I go on??? WHO WOULDNT WANT THAT???? Being able to one day share all this with our family and friends, and giving this gift to our kids, their kids and grandkids- is all worth the hard work and effort we have put into this project! YES!!!!

·         GRATITUDE FOR THE EXPERIENCE- it has been a tough, gruelling at times, physically, mentally and emotionally challenging journey for us all and few know the details of it all, but I must say that I feel so much gratitude (am I over-using that word???) for this experience, as it has made me a stronger, better, human being, and has taught me methods of coping better in this world by putting a different perspective on all I have known and believed in.

I have graduated from being a “Jewish Princess” to an “Island Queen” (as my dear mum has
said), and I feel PROUD!


And so, if all goes to plan (which usually never happens here...), we shall be returning to Sydney on May 4th, with an extra member of our family growing rapidly in my womb (for those of you who don’t know.... AAAAAAHHHH!!!!), to restart our lives back in civilization enriched with all that we have experienced here, and with a home away from home to escape to whenever we can or need to...

 

And just a little funny story to add re having a baby...

It is a very common tradition in Rotuman culture for babies to have a namesake. The namesake could be a close relative, a friend or a distant acquaintance who asks to or offers to be the namesake. Personally (call me weird...) I prefer to name my own kids. I agreed to Carls cousin giving Noah a second name , and Saulei’s name was suggested by Carls other cousins which I agreed to because I loved the name. But I wouldn’t give that privilege to name my kid to anyone, unless I really liked the name.

Being pregnant here, having the locals see and comment on my belly growth, has sparked quite a few requests for being the baby’s namesake. From close relatives, to friends to random people who have just come up to me asking to name my kid.... I found it quite funny actually, and would have to politely thank them and explain that it is not an acceptable practice in my culture....

 

So.....

Back to civilization, to choices, to family and friends, to yummy food, rich culture, horrific traffic, cost of living and stress, running around like a headless chook (and now I REALLY know what that looks like!!!), dealing with consumerism, fashion and trends, cool weather (YES!!!) a soft comfy bed, SKYPEing my family, Sydney beaches, CAFE’S (or DECAFE’S for me now...) new music, movies, theatre..... BRING IT ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


So thats it - this might be my last blog novel (sorry if I bored you...), thanks for all the fantastic feedback I've received over the years, I have loved writing this and discovered a hidden talent that only through your feedback I've learnt to recognize. So THANK YOU!


For those of you in Sydney- I cant wait to SQUEEEEEEZ you really soon, and those of you further away- I hope I will SQUEEEZ you really soon!!!
 

PEACE, LOVE, and COCONUTS from the Isle of Rotuma...
 


P.S  A few pics to show you the progress of the house and more will follow in the next few days xxx

 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Happy season!


Hi HO HO and Merry Xmas and (post) Chanuka to y’all!

Am writing from my very breezy room courtesy of Cyclone Evan which is lashing about Fiji, and although Rotuma was issued a Cyclone warning, we haven't had anything major happen here besides nice cool winds (the type that blow through the window and make the ceiling fans move...)

When they issued the warning I got all excited and started thinking of how we can prepare for it... Carl did his thing by bracing our house in a few places and nailing some boards up against the windows in the house we’re currently in, and me??? I harvested Pineapples to make Jam (so that the cyclonic winds wont blow the beautiful Pineapples away), harvested loads of bananas and baked 3 banana breads (to freeze, you never know...) harvested a lot of my basil (the only thing that has survived the harsh Rotuman heat in my garden) and made a batch of Pesto, in case Evan might blow my precious Basil plants away, and ended up making a delicious meal of Spaghetti with seared fresh Tuna, Rocket, Chilli and Lime. YUM. How else does one prepare for a Cyclone???


Carl bracing for the cyclone (sorry you gotta twist your head!)

The kids were getting really excited and kept asking if the “Curricane” has arrived, but luckily, and to their disappointment, we have been (to date) spared the worse. Apparently its hitting Fiji big time right now, but I don’t really know what the effects are. Hopefully not too bad!

It is the festive season here too, not nearly as outrageously exhibited as back home, but still, on December 1st most people here put away their cane knives and stop working for the whole month and celebrate.

Rotuman celebrations include the annual farmer shows, in which each village has their day of farmers boasting their MASSIVE pride.... Watermelons, pineapples, Taro, Bananas, Cassava, and there is a competition and prizes and everyone is merry.

Another traditional celebration is the “Farah”, where a group of people, or a whole village get together, dress up in traditional gear and go around the island, or from house to house in their village, park themselves in front of some ones house and start singing and dancing traditional Rotuman songs and dances. The “hosts” then have to come out with bottles of perfume and Talcum powder and douse the entertainers, as well as offer them treats (watermelon, lollies, whatever). This can happen at any time of the day or night, and quite often people go around in the middle of the night and could arrive at your home at 2am and you gotta get up and enjoy their entertainment. The 2am-ers are usually the drunks, hopefully they will skip our home when doing their rounds...

I went on a couple “Farah’s” organized for the kids in our village, the boys love getting dressed up in their “Bula shirts” and waiting in anticipation for what kind of treats they will get. As for the dancing- Noah is the one who is always up there shaking his stuff, making sure he gets to his little girlf Briseis, to ask her to dance before any other kid does, and they dance the night away.

As for Saulei, he refuses to get up from my lap (until the treats are brought out) and hardly even lifts his head from the ground (thinking if he doesn’t see anybody- no one will see him) in fear of being asked to dance. It appears though that the “Henfisi” (white girl) is quite popular among the 6-10yr old boys of the village, and I always get asked to dance by some blushing excited little boy....
"Farah"
 
We return home from these things looking like zombies and smelling like brothels, but very happy...

Carls dad returned to Oz last week after 7 weeks of hard work here. He helped build the bathroom of our house and they worked really hard on it. The laying of the bricks turned out to be much harder than expected, but it is done. The brick laying and roof that is. It still needs to be rendered, fitted, plumbed, tiled and everything else, but we have a shell.

 
The process of building the bathroom...                                  more process...

The boys manualy turning the high-tec cement mixer

The Bathroom shell (it looks a bit more like a bar at the moment...)

Farewell Pa...

Carls uncle Varo, aunt Aggie and son Muero have gone to Fiji for a few months leaving us alone in their house (well, almost alone, with his old uncle Ringa). It was sad to see them go, especially Aggie, as she is my main company here, but they are happily in Fiji with their kids and grandkids.
This means that we are, for the first time in –I don’t know how long- just us four (well, almost), a family of US. This means so much more freedom and less stress over bulk cooking and meal planning and cleaning and bla  bla bla. I can decide to wack up a meal for 5 in 10 minutes and it is sooooo easy!!! Am loving it!!! I have more time to play with the kids and do other stuff, and its a joy.

A wonderful thing that has happened- I have a new friend!!!! She is the loveliest Samoan woman, mother of 8 (!!!) great kids, one of which has become Carls surf BFF) and the wife of a Rotuman doctor. They all live in Fiji but have a house here and come here for holidays.
I cant emphasize enough how nice it is to have a friend here who is a foreigner like me, who knows how it feels to be a foreigner in this culture, who appreciates the things that I appreciate and who can really understand where I come from and how I feel about life here.

Their whole family are very kind and generous, they invited us over for dinner the other night and we had the nicest night I have had since leaving Sydney 7 months ago! It was such a treat!!! There was a Xmas tree which the kids couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw it and hung around it most the night, We had bottle after bottle of lovely Spanish wine, we ate STEAK and decent Sausages and HAM and salads- all the things we JUST DONT HAVE here and I felt NORMAL!!! Great company, great food, hanging out with GIRLS- it was like HONEY poured all over my soul...

The thrill of a real Xmas tree!!! (excuse the head twisting again...)

And because we both know how we love the good things in life we are constantly exchanging little treats with each other, I bring her soaps, she sends me home with some yummy wholemeal nutty bread she brought from Suva, I bring her books (THE trilogy!!!) she sends over a pound of butter, I give her some home made pesto, she sends a basket full of vegies, I send her some home made virgin coconut oil and some divine Red wine liqueur vinegar my in-laws brought, and so on...
AND, her son, Carls BFF, just returned from Suva and brought us 6kg’s of BACON!!!!! Yes!!!!!!! Bacon Bacon Bacon! Bacon Bacon Bacon!!! Bacon and egg rolls, bacon in fried rice, bacon pasta... YOOOOOOHOOOOOO!!!! I am one happy Jewess!

Every few days I jump on the bike and ride down to her village, we go for a swim and bob up and down in the water for ages chatting about meaningful things!!!! Such a treat!


The house is looking beautiful, nothing yet happening on the inside, but the outside looks great! After Carls dad left, Carl had decided to take a very well deserved break from the house and do other stuff like surfing, fishing, gardening and a bit of nothing too!!! (very UN-Carl like...)
 

Chanuka came and went, and being the only Jewess on the island, and probably surrounding islands and maybe all the way to Australia or New Zealand, I wanted to do what I could to preserve the spirit of Chanuka, even here! So the kids and I collected scraps of wood and built a very wonky Chanukiya, and I spent a whole day preparing 40 Dulce-de-Lette filled donuts. They tasted great, disappeared within 10 minutes and made me feel sick for the rest of the day. At least I tired...

Building Chanukiya




I made my very last attempt at hosting a little ladies night on our new deck, made some beautiful sushi and sashimi, and finally made the Pinacolada’s I’ve been dreaming of making here (freshly squeezed coconut cream, freshly picked sweetest pineapples in the world and really bad quality Rum...), hoping the girls will appreciate the fine delicacies I presented them with. But Rotumans, bless them, they down their drinks as fast as a nomad travelling in the Sahara desert without hydrating for a week, would down a glass of water... just to get drunk as fast as possible, and no need to describe the rest.  So REALLY, I PROMISE!!! That was my LAST time drinking with Rotumans. It just doesn’t work for me...

 

School holidays here, slightly different than back home, very mellow and the kids just have to find ways to entertain themselves. Its not like I can take them to Museums or playgrounds or the cinema or children’s holiday activities... over here its all about climbing trees, shooting eachother with stick guns (or their Nerf guns their uncle sent them), going to play with kids up and down the road, or nagging me to death. I'm actually enjoying it! Enjoying the time with the kids, who are speaking fluent Rotuman now, they even talk to ME in Rotuman at times, and translate for me what other kids are saying to me, which is quite amusing...
 

 
 
Some school holiday activities...


 So from a cyclone safe Rotuma, I shall sign off and wish you all happy holidays and new year, and thanks for reading me, thanks for your comments and lovely feedback, take care and spread the Love

xxx

 
Rotuman Pawpaw mobile
 

 Rotuman bath tub

And just a few things I do to pass time... and treat my family!

Cinnamon Scrolls


 Upside down Pineapple cake

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dedicated to Peace


I sit here today, with a very heavy heart, the heaviest heart I have felt in a long long time.

I sit here on the other end of the planet to most of you, thinking of my family and friends in Israel, thinking of the people of Israel and the people of Gaza, and the distress, pain and fear they are experiencing, and I feel angry!

Angry at the inequality of life.

I was sitting in the water on the rocks down at the bottom of our land, the most beautiful silver sunset, grey skies, silver glittering water all around me and felt the most intense sense of Peace. Surrounded by lush green vegetation behind me and the serene soothing water, thinking of the life I am living and the love I feel for my family. I felt so fortunate and so grateful for where I am and what I have, but felt a very strong PANG in my heart, thinking how unfair it is that whilst I am living this peaceful serene life here, there are people in Israel and Gaza who live in terror of the next moment to come. While my children run around naked having rain showers screaming with joy, splashing in the ocean, climbing coconut trees and live in such abundance of the most tasty and beautiful things in life- there are children in Israel and Gaza who are huddled up in bomb shelters (if they're lucky enough to have one!) and witnessing their homes and families being destroyed in such an awful terrifying way.

I felt that just as the distribution of wealth in this world is so unjust, so is the distribution of Peace.

It is not fair that we are here without a worry on our mind (and of course this is all relative, dare I say that my concern for the lack of butter in the shops here compares to anything that Israeli’s and Palestinians may be feeling right now...), while my family, friends and fellow human kind are suffering the immense atrocities happening in Israel and Gaza in exactly this moment.

I feel so deeply sad by what’s happening there, and every time I watch the news on TV here, my eyes fill with tears and I feel so frustrated and helpless being here with nothing to do to help these people. I know it is, always has been, and might always be a very tricky situation that is happening there, but more so now than ever, living the life that I am, being objective and not living in the eye of that storm, I can see that what the Israeli government and the Hamas are doing will not lead to anything but destruction of hearts, families, people.

I know it is much easier for me to say this here, but a little quote a friend posted on Facebook by the Dalai Lama really touched my heart:

When asked “why didn’t you fight back against the Chinese?” he answered-

“Well war is obsolete, you know. Of course the mind can rationalize fighting back... but the heart, the heart would never understand. Then you would be divided in yourself, the heart and the mind, and the war would be inside you.”

So I dedicate this post to my dearest, beloved family and friends in Israel, and to all Israeli’s and Palestinians. With tears in my eyes, and with all my heart- I wish I could share my peace with you, I wish that someday you will be free of the pain and hatred you feel in your hearts, and have the opportunity to experience true peace, inside and out. I wish for the children to be free of the fear that is embedded in their little beings, and for them never to have to see the things they do, ever again. And to the mothers and fathers... my words escape me... I pray for you all morning and night, and only hope that someone up there or down there can hear me and MAKE THIS STOP!!!!!!

Know that I am thinking of you all allot, and although I don’t write personal emails much, you are in my heart big time, you know who you are, and I hope you’re feeling me!

 

I don’t feel very inspired to write much about life here right now, so will just say in short that things are good! The house is coming along well, slowly, and with almost all the external walls done- it is finally looking like a house, a home.

My in-laws have been here, Carls mum left last Friday, and his dad is staying for another3-4 weeks. Its been nice having some family here, some familiarity and grandfolks for the kids, I really miss that!

The school year will be over in a couple of weeks, and thank Goddess for that, as I could not stand another day of the ridiculousness of the school and education system here.

Not sure how much longer we will be here, might need to stay longer than out original plan for a January return if the house isn’t complete by then.

We are all good, well, happy and loving life. I am attaching some pics for you to see where we’re at with the house.

PEACE, LOVE and coconuts to you all

XXX

 


Noah on his way to Church


                                          Silly Saulei
                                         
                                           Carl's first Dog Tooth Tuna!

                                          Front view of the house

                                          Side view (Bed rooms)

                                          Other side view (Kitchen)
 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

PIGGED OUT!!!


Oh what a wonderful day for me today!

The kids are both at school AND the internet is working!!!! Which means I have spent the entire day on my laptop, which is a complete luxury and hasn’t happened since I arrived here and I am stoked!

Noah is finally wanting to go to school now, after having a really hard time adjusting to the (non)system at the local school. Every time I would go with Saulei to Preschool, which is on the primary school’s grounds, I would see Noah wondering around the school grounds, hiding under trees, looking for someone to talk to (unfortunately sometimes that someone would be the high school principal, who wondered why he wasn’t in class with the rest of his classmates...- getting in trouble already!!!?!?!?!). No one tells him what to do or not to do, I think the teachers and principal are just fascinated with him and his stories of faraway lands (Israel and Australia) and love hearing about all his favourite foods and the different dishes I cook and how I make them....

There is absolutely no discipline there, and they let him get away with whatever he wants, therefore he feels a bit lost and like he doesn’t belong. He wasn’t learning anything at school, so I decided to keep him home one day and home school him, which I feel he is benefiting from a lot. And like I said, he is now much happier to go to school and is almost as keen as he was when he was going to school in Oz.

Saulei has taken even longer to get him keen, I think he just didnt want to be away from me for such a long time- 7:30am till after 4pm is a long time to be away for this particular 4yr old, and only when he realised that when he goes to preschool without me, and is in the care of my friend Fotfiri (who runs the preschool)- he gets given so many treats  and lollies that he would never get at home,  he’s decided  that school is an essential part of his life, and has been going  to school every day this week!

So this is what it has come to- if I want a bit of peace and quiet and time to myself, I have to send my kids to a place where they get fed awful fluoro coloured ice blocks, green bubblegum, COFFEE lollies and deep fried donuts drizzled with chocolate sauce.... and they LOVE it!!!

Who said that  parental decision making was easy????...
Bro's..
Sheik Saulei
 

House is starting to look like its actually progressing, Carl and his uncle Varo have been hammering away and getting some window frames and walls up and its looking damn good! Carl has another week or so’s work in the bush cutting timber, and then he will be down here working away on the house from then on.

Where its at now
Men at work
 
My in-laws are coming over for a visit at the end of the month which will be great! More company, grandparents for the kids and more help for Carl!

We had a big Piggy event happen a couple of weeks ago, we decided to buy a pig and butcher it PROPERLY with the help of a Tasmanian guy, Arnold, who was here for a couple of months. He is a butcher by trade and was keen to teach us how to do it right, as opposed to just chopping the beast up into whatever many pieces and chucking the thing into the Lovo (underground oven).

It took a while to find the right pig, we wanted one that was big and fat, in order to gain a lot of Bacon, so when we eventually found one and payed $300 for it, they brought it home with a bullet  between its eyes, and a freshly slit throat.

The pig! As usual the kids were very amused...

 (Oh whoops! WARNING: THE FOLLOWING BIT MAY CONTAIN OFFENSIVE DESCRIPTIONS AND IMAGES. IF YOU PREFER TO SEE YOUR MEAT FILLETED AND BBQ’D AND ON YOUR PLATE- YOU MAY SCROLL DOWN AND SKIP THE NEXT BIT...)

So with the sun setting in the background, the men cut up the beast into 4 pieces (head, front legs, torso and back legs) and chilled it over night. The next morning our kitchen transformed into a makeshift butchery and Arnold showed Carl and Varo how to butcher each leg, which cut to use for bacon, how to slice out succulent massive Pork Chops, and cube about 8kgs of meat for stewing.

They prepared a solution of salt, sugar, water and some stuff Arnold had for curing meat which they injected into the legs and bacon chunks and put it all in a big barrel full of the solution to cure for a few days.

We were so excited about having loads of bacon (no one here has ever made it, and its not like we can buy it here...) and legs of Ham... All I could think of was how much easier school lunches are going to get with such a huge amount of ham...
 

                                                                    Bum Head!!!


                                                                          The GUTS!!!

What you DONT see at your butchers!
 
 
 
Nothing else to say about this pic, but laugh!!! 

                                                 Legs'o'ham and a whole lotta Bacon!!!!

                                                              Chopping the chops!

A lot of Future stew!!!
 
We were all waiting patiently, each of us drooling over our Bacon and ham fantasies, until about 3 days later we woke up to not a fishy smell, but a ROTTING PIG smell!!!

I couldn’t deal with it and went to school with the kids, and when I came home, I was told the devastating dream crashing news of THE WHOLE LOT having to be chucked out coz it went bad...

It turns out that they didnt consider the temperature here, and thought that it wouldn’t affect the meat if it is drowned in the curing solution. Unfortunately they were wrong....

BIG BUMMER it was, but like Carl, the eternal optimist said- at least we learnt how to butcher a pig properly... and also managed to get a bunch of chops, cubed meat and a whole lot-a -lard...

Who woulda thunk that a Jewish Princess like me would be so enthralled and occupied by the processing of swine???...

Meanwhile, we have been getting almost daily deliveries of giant watermelons from our friend Michael Jackson, and today we got given 5 enormous Pineapples so sweet that the juice that leaks out of it tastes like syrup!!! Ahhhhhh.... life!!!

 
My VCO (Virgin Coconut Oil) and soap making is still going, although after being busted by the immigration officer for selling soap at the local shop, I’ve decided not to sell them and keep them for personal use and gifts...

Apparently on my current visa I am not allowed to “generate income”, and some how, via the “Coconut Wireless network” and a few cases of TPS (Tall Poppy Syndrome) the news spread that the Henfisi (white woman) was selling soap at the shop.  So when the immigration officer went to check it out (and bought one of my soaps!), he told me they could cancel my visa, but wont, as things are a bit more lenient here in Rotuma.  If I really wanted to sell them, we can get a permit on Carls name, but we’ve decided not to bother with it, and just enjoy the soaps ourselves.

As I assume is happening in the rest of the western world, here too people are getting excited about Xmas approaching, only here there is no outrageous spending, annoying brightly lit shopping malls, and consumerism slammed  in your head making one feel inadequate if one doesn’t participate. No, over here, on the 1st of December, all cane knives are put away, work seizes to be a part of daily activity, and partying begins. People here work on their plantations for months in advance to provide enough food  for Xmas time, many Rotumans living all over the world come here to celebrate Xmas, and the islands population triples.

I remember the very first time I came here in 2005, pregnant and in complete culture shock, I didnt quite know what to make of the whole “Xmas period”. I wonder how now, 7 years on and with much more experience and understanding of the culture, how my experience of it will be...

Till then (or before), happy days to you all and lots of love from all of us xxxx

 

              My Veggie garden finally starting to yield- mainly lettuces, rocket and Bok Choi

                                                               My homie girl Saulei

Monday, September 24, 2012

Im FOURTY!!!


Last Wednesday I turned FOURTY!!!


My original plan for my 40th celebrations was to spend it in Bali with all my favourite girlfriends in the world, and when I realized that was not gonna happen, I succumbed to accepting I will be celebrating somewhere else in the tropics with my favourite boys!!!!
So this is how I celebrated my day...
We had an awsome day at the most amazing paradise beach in the world, swam and snorkeled and finally got to see Carl spearfishing in action! Then we went to another spot with a fresh water pool, had a picnic lunch and headed home to a beautiful dinner and a pink birthday cake Aggy made for me... too sweet!
Thanks to all the lovely birthday wishes, I had an awsome day, made me feel very gratefull and appreciative of my life here and in general, only wish you were here to enjoy it with me!!!!
xxxx


Oinafa beach- my favoutrite beach in the world!

Pure Paradise! with mall my men!

That water is for REAL!!! no Photoshopping!!

OUCH!

Staying Alive!!!

The LIFE!

Bushman Saulei

My Rotuma Family

And my all around family x
















Sunday, September 16, 2012

Howdie there from our little dot in the pacific, where it has been raining for days and our clothes on the lines are getting a super wash by mama nature, and our veggie garden is squeaking with glory and our TV is working overtime...
BIG GOOD NEWS!!! The internet is working!!! ISH... I dunno if it has anything to do with the fact that I called the mobile network and complained a few times and threatened to report them to the Fiji Consumer Council, but its on, sometimes, VERY VERY slow and keeps dropping out, its better than nothing, and I am grateful for it! I can see photos on Facebook (no vids unfortunately) so keep posting them, that’s the only way I can see you!
I’ve just completed my 3rd batch of Virgin Coconut oil soap, this time I made about 65 bars of Lime soap and Orange soap. I still haven't decided if I will sell them or keep them for personal use and as gifts, but I have already had some ladies asking me to buy some...
I am attaching some photos of the process of making the soap:
First I get a handsome husband to collect a wheelbarrow full of coconuts and husk them (about 60 nuts!).
Handsom husking husband!
Then that same handsome young man scrapes the coconut flesh out, which is mixed with warm water and hand squeezed (by his cuzin) to extract the cream (sorry no pics!).
Scraping the coconuts
The oil/water mix is then poured into buckets, wrapped in towels and let sit for a couple of days until the mixture separates – a curd on the top, the pure Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) beneath it, another kind of curd under that and the rest is water. I then need to scoop the curd out (and then sun that to produce “second grade” VCO- which I use for my hair, body and massage), then scoop out the VCO, strain it twice and then sun it for a couple of days to remove the odours. And there you go- BEAUTIFUL PURE ORGANIC HOME MADE VIRGIN COCONUT OIL!!!! So cool!!!!
Pure VCO
The process of soap making is something I briefly taught myself before we came here, knowing I will need something to keep me busy and stimulated for the long months we will be here, so I brought all the gear with me, including some beautiful Essential Oils and the result is here:
 
Me dressed in my protective gear preparing the soap
65 bars of soap! yum!!!!
VCO soap is the softest most beautiful soap to use, and I am very proud of my soap!!!!
School holidays are over and its back to waking before the sun to prepare school lunches and breakfasts, Noah is feeling a little better about going to school, but I have decided to keep him home one day a week and home school him.  I think he would learn more in one day at home than in a week at the school here...
 Life goes on here, the house building is crawling along, Island pace, they have started laying the foundation for the bathroom, and also started on the frame of one of the walls. Carl is still busy cutting up some Mahogany trees in the bush, which will hopefully be finished in about a week, and that will be all the wood he will need for the house DONE! The work has been slowed down a bit due to quite a bit of rain and an infected big toe (Carls), but hopefully next week it will pick up again.
You know the amazing Canoe Carl and Co built a couple of months ago when our friends from Oz were here? Well, we tied it to a tree in front of our neighbours house, as they have a beach and we have rocks in front of ours and cant park it there. One morning Fotfiri our neighbour woke us up early saying the Canoe was gone! it was either stolen (highly unlikely- as everyone knows its ours) or washed away to sea overnight... Carl borrowed the neighbours canoe to go and see if it was washed off onto one of the beaches in the bay, but came back with a sad looking face... After all that hard work!!! And we hardly even got to use it!!! We were really bummed, and Carl-as he does, just got over it and let it go...
A few hours later, our friend Michael Jackson came over to tell us that he went searching for it and thought that if there is any chance of finding it before it got taken by the sea, was at this beach where he knew how the current came in before going out into the open sea, and sure enough- there it was- washed up onto the rocks, slightly damaged but in one piece!!! Needless to say we were super stoked, and as soon as they fix it, it will be sailed back to our village, and tied down with an anchor as well as a rope to the tree...
Mango season has started, and huge mango trees all over the island are bursting with fruit!! UNFORTUNATELY, we don’t have a mature mango tree, and every time I walk past one of these, I drool, and have to flutter my eyelashes at the tree owners complementing their massive fruit, in the hope that they will give me some! Another way of obtaining mangoes, or any desirable fruit here, is waking up before the chickens and going to the trees to pick the fruit that has fallen to the ground over night before the chickens do. Unfortunately for me, chickens are awake by 4:30am, and I’m not 4:30am desperate for mangoes...
Baby Pineapple

So we just keep on eating Pawpaws , which are falling off the trees and we cant eat them fast enough, Banana bunches bursting off the trees, the pineapples are starting to grow into their massive Rotuman dimensions, Soursop juice, Soupsop Jam, Mandarins,  our veggie garden is starting to produce our much anticipated greens, loads of very spicy Rocket, Chinese greens, string beans, basil, Okra, and the rest is still to come. It is SO nice to finally have salads to eat, it makes the hot humid days somewhat pleasurable...
Our scarecrow Zoe
Zoe in the garden

Thats all  for now, hopefully now that I have a bit of connectivity to the outside world, I will write more...
IF you wanna see a little movie that our friend David made of their trip to Rotuma, type in Youtube “Rotuman Adventure July 2012, Davey, Lizzy and Delphi meet Carl's family.” and you can get a great insight into what its like here. I haven’t actually seen it yet, as the internet is too slow to download it, but you can.Also, there’s a documentary called “Passage to Rotuma”, made by a part Rotuman woman who came to Rotuma for the first time, and it stars a few of Carl’s relatives and takes place mainly in Itumuta- the village we didn’t end up building in. Its a great portrayal of the experience I had the first time I came, I cried and laughed when I saw it, and would love you to see it too. I think you can watch it in 3 parts on Youtube.
Shana Tova to all of you who celebrate the new year, and please keep in touch- via email- I can read them now!!!
Love from us all xxxx



                                         Noah and his grilfriends in a canoe (not ours)

                                         The completed front Deck

 Saulei reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude" (I found him like this- its not a staged photo!)
                                         A Worrier always sleeps with his sword!

                                           Sushi lunch for the kids

                                                    Wild Children