Sunday, June 3, 2012

What dreams may come...and stay.

Good news!  I still like food.

So this week I've been planning out my nutrition lessons for the different villages.  I've spent most of my days reading the latest studies on metabolic disease, diabetes, obesity, and of course, nutrition.  I've been hunting down healthy recipes, trying out a few here and there, and assessing what kind of healthy options are available here on the island.  I've been making handouts, meeting with partners, and trying to figure out a schedule that works with Kylie (one of the other volunteers) and her project on exercise.  Tomorrow morning, I head into the villages to officially get started.  Wish me luck.

Amongst all the prep work though, I received a very comforting confirmation.  I really like this stuff.  I love reading about the cellular biology behind metabolic disease.  I love researching the nutrient content of foods I've never heard of.  I even got a kick out of planning out the logistics of my project proposal.  I love food, and I love the human body.  Learning and understanding more about how those two things relate to one another is fascinating if not completely enthralling to me.  Doing all this work here in Fiji is totally psyching me up for grad school.  Huzzah!

Not to worry though, I did take a break from my nerdy indulgences and went for a hike on Saturday.  Hiking in Fiji is amazing, but kind of a beast.  It involved hopping in the back of a truck to travel to a village at the base of the 'trail.'  You pay the village to hike on their land and if you want, pay for a guide to take you.  With 10 of us and no GPS, we opted for the guide.  His name was Joe, and he had the feet of Bigfoot himself.  We hiked to two waterfalls in the area and then back to the village.  This was the mountain we climbed. 

It was about 4-5 miles total, over VERY rough terrain.  I got a few cuts and scrapes on my legs and feet, as did most of our party.  Joe did it barefoot and came out without a scratch.  He also managed to scale a mandarin tree like it was an escalator, just so we could have some fresh mandarins with our lunch.  I'm telling you, this guy was amazing.

Trekking in the jungle of Fiji is definitely beautiful and definitely isolated.  When I asked our guide what the main income of the village was (because there's no way it looked as nice as it did just from the occasional hiker), I was informed that kava and marijuana are easily grown in the area and both sell for a very high price (fyi, weed is illegal here too).  The variety and wildness of the terrain was quite curious, and it doesn't surprise me that they could hide any crop they needed to.  It's the first time I've seen palm trees growing next to pine trees, and there were several trees that looked like they belonged in the Amazon.  The views were spectacular, but the best part of the whole experience was playing in the 200-250 foot waterfalls.  Just an amazing experience. 

The rocks were a kind of lava stone, perfect for boulder climbing stacked like loose legos.  We spent a couple hours just exploring the area, scrabbling over the rocks, enjoying the pressure and taste of the waterfall.  The water was refreshingly chilly and formed a nice pool at the base, perfect for cannonballs and other tomfoolery.  After 4 hours of hiking in jungle humidity, it was a perfect ending to a fantastic day.

In case I haven't said it yet, I'll say it again: I love Fiji.  

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