My dreaded alarm goes off. I honestly could have kept sleeping for the rest of the day, but I get up and get ready for an unknown group exercise I know is going to be brutal.
I arrive at the bottom of the Big Blue House hill, not sure what to expect. We had been allocated teams the previous day, so I meet with Vivianne, Billy, and Vibhu. We stand in a circle and like a ghost, Jimmy’s voice (one of our leaders) comes out from the speaker: “High Knees everyone!”. I already know I’m in trouble. After the grueling warm-up of high knees, butt kicks, pushups and burpees the group fitness challenge is announced. A relay up the Big Blue house hill, aka the hill of death (in my head). I was actually kind of keen for it. I knew I would probably die multiple times but I was willing to put in 100%. For what I think was about half an hour, my group took turns running up and down the hill. Billy did one massive power move of running the entire hill and a half which brought our team to almost the lead and I ran the final stretch which brought our team into the lead.
Abbey, Mat and I are assigned to breakfast today, so we all head to the kitchen ready to start cooking for 17 people. I am in charge of cooking oats where a few mishaps happen. I put the oats on and then get distracted by setting up a speaker for the tunes, only to turn back to find I had given the oats a nice smoky flavour - oops. I also had not cooked enough oats, which meant I had to go back to the kitchen to cook some more.
The group and I eat breakfast and Bridget, one of our leaders, brings up the question “If you could only eat one type of breakfast for the rest of your life, what would it be?” I quickly reply “pancakes” - because they are great.
I return to my room to find Hawra, another trekker, who has left a lollipop on my bed with a message for me to have a great day. It was really sweet and sad to consider we only have four more days left of the project with these beautiful and amazing people.
As I get ready for the day, I take my toothbrush outside and have a toothbrushing jam with others in the house to the tune of Mambo No. 5. It’s heaps of fun.
Morning meeting is beginning and my legs start to cramp from the morning exercise. I end up having to spend half the meeting sitting on the ground trying to stretch the pain out of my legs.
Max, Mat and I step off for hopefully another productive village meeting at Cuvu Tore village. We walk down to the markets where we get on a bus to the village. It is always fun sitting on the bus as the wind blows in through the open windows and looking at the beautiful Fijian scenery. I also get some of my admin done on the bus ride!
We arrive in the beautiful little seaside village of Cuvu Tore. We decide to wait a little while as we were a little too early, so we sit at the bus stop under a shady Noni tree.
We enter the village and ask a local lady for directions to the village hall. Upon arrival at the hall we meet the Village Chief, Paul. He invites us to sit down inside and slowly the farmers begin to arrive and join us in the hall. We introduce ourselves, PEV, and the purpose of the surveys we will be conducting. The farmers then split into two groups with Mat interviewing four farmers and Max and myself interviewing a group of seven farmers. I take the lead with the questions. I love being able to learn about these people and the way they live their lives. Each village I visit has its own uniqueness and each will hold a special place in my memories.
We finish interviewing the farmers and the local school teacher thanks us for visiting the village. As this was the most appropriate time, I present a small bag of Cava powder to the Village Chief. He thanks us and says a prayer for the Cava. As the Chief prepares the cava, Mat, Max and myself go and visit a nearby farm. We then go and have a look (from a distance) at a yacht that was crashed into the village reef by a New Zealander during rough seas. The yacht was given to the village and the chief talked of his wish to sell it. We return to the village hall and participate in a Cava ceremony - I drink A LOT of cava and am fairly sleepy by the end.
We thank the Chief again for his time. He asks us to come back for lunch or dinner sometime before we leave. I find it hard because as much as I would love to, I don’t think we have the time. We go back out to the bus stop under the Noni tree and talk to Paul for a bit longer before the bus comes and we depart for Sigatoka Markets.
We arrive back at Sigatoka Markets where I buy eggplants and carrots for a DArT fam lunch on Wednesday. Max, Mat and myself head to the local curry shop, Rattans, for lunch and I buy a FJ$5 chow mein. It was really tasty but there was a lot of food, so I put it in a takeaway container for lunch later in the week. We then go to Shop N Save (the local grocery store) so I can buy the rest of the ingredients for the DArT fam lunch.
Max, Mat and I arrive back at the Big Blue House (BBH) hot and sweaty from walking up the hill once again. We take a 5-minute break, which I decide to utilise by jumping in the shower quickly to cool off and wash the sweat off.
I begin completing the admin for the village visit by updating our CRM system and the project key locations map.
We begin our end of day prep and have the last group meeting of the day where we recap and review our day.
I sit down to dinner with the Fiji Fam. Natasha (our fabulous house cook) has cooked us another great curry for dinner with rice and roti (the best roti in the world in my opinion). I talk with Medha, Zac and Harry and we find that there is a statistic that for our group there is a 75% chance that at least two people share a birthday. I decide to investigate so I call a dinner announcement and get everyone to share their birthday. It was found that two people in the group do in fact share a birthday on May 7th (but I cannot remember who…).
I am rostered for dinner clean up (yay, 2 major chores in one day). It’s cool though, I help dry the dishes and clean the floors.
I walk home to BBH so I can finish some final admin for the day. Then BEDTIME (YAY!)
Probably around 0530 on Wednesday - zzzzzzzz….. The alarm goes off again.