A Few Final Words

Now that this 6 month trip has come to end, I’ve been reflecting on it as a whole. I know for sure that I have really enjoyed creating this little memory bank on the internet, I hope you have enjoyed it also. I think it will be really nice to come back to in years to come.

In terms of travelling, it’s been all that I expected and more, good moments and some bad ones too. I feel a lot more confident about dealing with difficult situations and unfamiliar settings. I have a great trust in the kindness of people.

I’ve also learned a few handy travelling tips, I thought I would share my top 3:

  1. Eye masks and ear plugs are literal life (sleep) savers.
  2. Tiger Balm is a miracle, it will stop bites itching, clear a blocked nose in minutes and soothe a sore head.
  3. Always having some kind of sweets tucked away can really help if you get a sudden bought of sadness/homesickness.

However, many of the things which come to my head can’t really be sorted into neat lists. I know that a lot of young people go travelling in the hope that they will have some great epiphany about the meaning of their life or which path to take. To be honest, I was kind of wishing this would happen for me.

From my experience, travelling won’t sort out all your problems, but it may make you realise that perhaps your problems and concerns aren’t that much of a big deal after all. In a funny way, travelling has made me ‘un-learn’ a lot of stuff rather than find any big answers. It gives you a lot of perspective and time to consider what’s really important. You get to know about new cultures and ways of life, and you also get to know yourself a lot more too.

I know that I want travelling to be a big part go my life, there’s so much more to see and experience… and I can’t wait for it.

Taveuni

For the last week of our 6 month adventure, we headed out to the “Garden Island of Fiji”, Tavenui.

We hiked up to the Bouma Waterfalls, snorkelled the amazing Rainbow Reef, kayaked out to islands and enjoyed ourselves in the tropical paradise sunshine.

Our time in Fiji has been truly wonderful. We’ve definitely benefitted from Fijian hospitality, everywhere we stayed, even Airbnb places, we were treated like family and included in meals. We became accustomed to ‘Fiji Time’, the idea that everything and everyone will probably be later than expected, never any rush or hurry. There’s a laid-back gentleness which runs on feeling and emotion, similar to what we witnessed in Kerala and what we learned of the Aborigine culture in Australia, quite different from the Western perspective we’ve grown up with. In Fiji it probably stems from the consumption of kava which has a mellowing effect and was traditionally used to solve any conflict in communities. We really feel a connection to Fiji now, especially because of our time on Vanua Balavu and the relationships we formed there, we will be back for sure!

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Bouma Waterfalls

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Chilling

Cyclone Winston and Vanua Balavu – Documentary Teaser

For those of you wondering where all the video footage from Fiji is, here’s the deal;

Whilst on Vanua Balavu, as well as teaching, I spent a lot of time filming the area and the effects of Cyclone Winston. I interviewed members of the community about their experiences on the night the cyclone hit and their concerns for the future. I documented daily life amongst the slowly improving destruction.

I ended up with a lot of footage. The plan is to eventually edit this in to a short documentary which will tell the story of the island, how it was effected by the storm and how its people are attempting to move on.

But, for now, I’ve thrown together this informal teaser for you to get a sense of what life on the island is like at the moment.

Second Shipment of Supplies

We recently headed back to Suva for a few days in order to arrange and buy the second shipment of supplies. Apart from the slight set-back of our rental car being stolen, we managed to get everything done in time!

The packages should be sent on a boat to the island next week. We were again able to help all 7 primary schools with items which they had specified to us that they were in need of.

Apart from Adi Maopa, the other 6 are Susui, Avea, Mavana, Maulevu, Daliconi and Cikobia. Many of these schools are very small, consisting of only around 20 pupils and some are on tiny islands off the main Vanua Balavu island. Some lost everything in Cyclone Winston and are now taking place in tents, churches, community halls or people’s houses, using whatever supplies they can.

We were able to buy:

  • 2 tins of blackboard paint
  • 7 Leaves Poetry textbooks
  • 7 Swiss Family Robinson textbooks
  • 7 Making Good textbooks
  • 7 Swiss Family Robinson activity books
  • 7 Making Good activity books
  • 2 large magnetic whiteboards
  • 2 medium magnetic whiteboards
  • 28 packs of whiteboard markers
  • 8 whiteboard dusters
  • 4 whiteboard cleaner packs
  • 4 whiteboard magnet packs
  • 1 Canon Pixma printer
  • 3 black ink cartridges 
  • 2 colour ink cartridges
  • 100 folders with metal fasteners

We’d like to send out a huge thank you again to everyone who shared and donated to our campaign. What you all made possible was amazing and seeing the supplies put to use by teachers and pupils was great. Everyone on the island is very thankful to all of you also. Before we left, we were delighted to hear the news that the New Zealand Government have decided to completely rebuild all of the schools of Vanua Balavu.

KERALA 2016

Finally found good enough internet to upload my edit of our 2 months in Kerala, plus a small detour into Tamil Nadu to visit Ooty. Such amazing memories of a very special and unique place.