Updated: Jul 19, 2022
When I was 26 years old I showered in the jungle, under a giant bucket that was filled with a mix of rain water and creek water, was held up by a wood structure and had a tarp as the door. I vividly remember one night taking a photo of the water running down with the sun setting, so I could remember the moment forever. I scrolled back through my Facebook page to find that post to share here.
I posted the photo to the left writing "One day I’ll look back and know when I was 26 years old I was taking sunset showers in Fijian jungles #islandgirl"
And it was true. I think about this photo and those showers ALL THE TIME. I think about all of the complexes in my life that others don't have because their life is ever so simplistic. My life was ever so simplistic during that chapter living abroad.
At the end of 2018, I moved to work on Beqa Island (pronounced ben-gah), it’s a remote island in Fiji off the coast of Suva. I was working as the dive instructor, boat captain, and project manager of a marine conservation program. Volunteers would come dive the reefs and perform research studies. We’d observe the same reefs multiple times a week for quarterly science reports through out the year and mark down observations from different kinds of fish, corals, and coral bleaching.
It was a really fun yet surreal experience in my life. The island had no roads, no cars, and no shops. It had a few villages scattered amongst that were primarily accessible by boat and our campsite was off the path of one village who we became close friends with. We’d be invited weekly for a lovo dinner and invited to special kava ceremonies.
Lovo is a way of cooking food underground with hot coals on top. Kava is a traditional tea that is drunk by Fijians at most ceremonies.
Something that always stood out to me is how while we were adapting to the Fijian culture, the hospitality of the Fijians were adjusting their own ways for us. When we’d be invited to a families house in the village for dinner every week, they’d offer us cutlery and chairs to sit on. Yet when they’d have their daily meals with out us in their homes, they’d eat with their hands and sit on the floor.
Many of the volunteers were able to pick up on this cultural norm and sit on the floor theirselves and eat with hands. But it shows the consideration of a Fijian to make us feel welcome and comfort in their home even when our customary eating habits were different. They went out of their way to provide forks and knives for us.
Submerging myself into new cultures and living life on their terms is something that has truly opened my eyes and taught me to be more open minded. We are all so similar. We are all just living life. Doing things that make us happy. Trying our best to provide for our families. And needing the same basic necessities to survive it all. I am the person and the parent I am today because of the travels where I've embraced new cultures and I am so excited to be able to give that gift to my daughter.