Thursday, December 29, 2011

Namatakula Village Travel Diary, Day Two

Kenyon woke up complaining of hunger this morning; it’s a little difficult to be on someone else’s schedule for eating.  We had woken up earlier than everyone else in the home and when I saw Rosa, Iso's wife, in the kitchen beginning to prepare some sort of dough I knew it would be a while.  Luckily, he was happily distracted by cartoons.  It’s an odd juxtaposition that this home that would be considered utter and complete poverty in the U.S. has a nice flat screen TV with channels like Nickelodeon that we don’t get at home in Colorado.  I was thankful for it this morning after hushing Kenyon’s complaints for food.

Breakfast was fresh papaya and lady finger bananas, Weet-Bix with milk (it becomes a sort of porridge when you add cut-up fruit and a sprinkling of Fijian sugar), and fried delicious dough pockets—I forget their name but it’s Fiji’s answer to donuts.  Plain or cut open with some jam, they’re great.  Alex devoured the porridge (he’s an oatmeal kid at home), and Jackson eats a lifetime supply of fruit at each meal.  The rest of the family in the kitchen eats what we don't eat, so I always want to leave plenty of good things but it is difficult with Simon and Judith's urgings to eat more and smiles when the boys take another helping of something.

After breakfast we took a walking tour of the village of Namatakula, which means ‘orange snake’, named when the first inhabitants arrived and saw such snakes.
They have now all been eradicated by the mongoose, which was brought over by Indian indentured servants.  People in the village offer a friendly ‘Bula!’ as we pass by, and of course everyone thinks it’s cute when Kenyon replies with his own ‘Bula’.

We hiked with locals Benja, Sala, and Jacob to the waterfall.  Benja was a little vague on what the hike entailed, and I’m glad I didn’t know because if I was fully informed I wouldn’t have gone and would have missed something so lovely.  It was a fairly grueling hour-long hike each way, through deep muddy paths and 8 river crossings.

this thing is seriously massive

Sam with a GIANT stick insect on his face
Kenyon is used to hiking, but this hike wasn't meant for little kids and he made it partway before hitching a ride piggyback on me the rest of the way.  This worked great until I slipped on one of the river crossings and hit his head on a rock—I can assure everyone (i.e. my mom) that there was no wound other than a bump and he was totally fine, THANKFULLY, since we were an hour hike, a two-hour drive, and a four-hour flight to Sydney for access to any sort of real medical care.
The waterfall was well worth the long hike, despite the fact that most of us were barefoot and I’m paranoid thinking of all the bacteria that could get into small wounds as we slogged through the mud that is surely part horse poop that was piled here and there from tourists making the hike on horseback.  I kept telling myself that we’re only here for three days and we can take care of anything that might happen when we get to Australia.  My mantra--Mosquito bites/infections/sunburns can only get so bad in three days.

Then I had a whole other set of worries to balance when Sam followed Jacob and Sala up the cliff to jump into the waterfall.

He made it fine, but then Jackson wanted a turn.  Cue more breath-holding.

After his success, I thought I’d try but really when it comes to thrill-seeking things like that I’m a wimp and decided it wasn’t worth it considering the lack of access to medical care.  It doesn’t look that far up in the pictures, but when you’re over there climbing it feels very far.

It is exceptionally hot today, and we came home and feasted on delicious rotis (handmade naan-like bread) with curried potatoes.

Kenyon spotting a hermit crab

At meals, Judith gives us a lot of great insight into life here.  I'm particularly interested in what it means to be a wife and mother, and she shared stories about childbirth, loss, and burial.  She expressed frustration that Fijian doctors can't find what is wrong with you until after you are dead. We also talked about what the missionaries have done for Fiji--good and bad.  She said that although the missionaries ended cannibalism (a good thing), the white men create a lot of trash and she is a firm believer that life was better in Fiji before the missionaries came over. 
Alex with his hermit crab (before giving it to a  village woman who uses them for bait)

I’m truly surprised and pleased at how well the kids are doing.  We are hot, have mosquito bites, our clothes are continually damp, and we’re living in third-world conditions.  But we’re also exploring the ocean, hiking to waterfalls, making new friends, and learning about a completely different culture.  Most importantly, and what makes it so special to me, is that we’re doing it together as a family.  


  1. Yikes....ok, this one worried me a bit. Head bumps, mosquito diseases...and god knows what else. Maybe Dad and I will skip having the "village experience" and just appreciate the adventure through your blog.

  2. I enjoyed reading the Hamatakula adventure with the family to the waterfalls. The Adventure of Annie and her Boys is certainly an apropos blog title for this posting. With your daring and adventurous attitude you’ll have a fantastic year in Australia. As they may say to you in your new home “Good on ya mate”. Easy on the head injuries and hope you were not suffering in the following days.

  3. Keep up the great photos and posts all year! Love reading about your adventures!

  4. What a fantastic adventure you are all having!! Even the though stuff will be a joy to recall in the future. You all look wild, fresh, and full of life and wonder! Huge hugs!

  5. A PS to earlier comment: Love the pictures keep them coming. Have you seen this book about the East coast of Australia?

  6. Annie, I'm inspired by your adventure and touched by your words. Thanks for sharing with us. Most of all enjoy your family! Happy New Year.

  7. Rich--that book looks great. I don't think they have Amazon here, but I'll look for it at the local library...hoping to get a library card soon!

  8. That's a fuckin' HUGE monster of a bug.