One of the great things about visiting family when you travel is being able to experience more of the real country than when you're trying to figure things out by yourself. I got a chance to go to an activity with a church group. It was similar to camping, but with a house instead of a tent. If that sounds too cushy, just know that the weather in Fiji is such that any attempt at sleeping in a tent would be a very wet experience.
John spent about 5 minutes in the rain, and this is his level of wetness. That is, very wet. As in, he may as well have jumped into the nearby river.
It doesn't matter what kind of gear you have in Fiji. You'll end up soaked if you're not in a house. So we went to a ranch owned by a church member, and we stayed in an old farm house on the property.
It was fun to meet the boys and leaders and get to know these great people. They were very friendly and fun to spend time with.
They made some awesome eggplant curry for dinner.
The next morning we had babakau, which are like scones.
We also had samosa, which are stuffed scones (on the left), which we stuffed with the eggplant curry. Super tasty!
Card games were popular.
We also had a great fire that night.
And story telling.
One of the coolest things about this trip was building a bilibili* (bamboo raft) with Brother Dakunimata. He showed us how to build bilibilis and told us about the old days when they would build huge rafts called "H.M.S. No-Come-Back" to bring enormous loads of bananas down the rivers to sell.
* English is fine, but Fijian is more fun.
We built a couple of little bilibilis under the direction of the pro. First we chopped some stalks to bring to the nearby river.
We hauled the bamboo down to the river.
Bush knives were the tools of choice, of course.
We lashed them together with some non-traditional twine.
Then we had some races with two guys on each raft. Not quite enough flotation to stay on top of the water, but staying dry wasn't the point anyway.
The boys thought that John's life vests were pretty fun to wear, so they kept them on, even out of the water. They wore their life vests learning how to do geocaching with the GPS pro.
Overall, it was a fun and interesting trip for me. An impressive thing about these boys was that when one of the major activities planned for the afternoon didn't work out, I didn't hear any complaints. Instead, they sought out other stuff to do and ended up with no less smiles than if the original plans had happened.
From my experience with American youth, I'd expect about half of a group like this to complain about a trip where everything works right, and I'd expect almost all the kids to complain when something goes wrong!* Not these guys. They had fun regardless of the situation. Toby and Sam are not your typical American youth either, and they joined in on the fun.
* Aside from the activity that didn't work out, which was beyond our control, the activities worked out really well, thanks to John's great planning.
I have a lot to learn from these guys.
Thanks for good times John, Toby, Sam, Gabi, Dani, Jatin, Apenisa, Simon, Isi, and others I know I'm forgetting!