Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Blue skies and broken hearts

We were fortunate enough to get away for Alex's last weekend here - out Viti Levu's rain shadow and into sunny skies. Leleuvia Island is the stuff that tropical dreams are made of - bures literally right on the beach. You can walk, snorkel or kayak around the island in less than an hour. If one side of the island is breezy, you just walk to the beach on the other side, around 50m away to lay down your beach towel.

Mike & I explored the tidepools at low tide - the bures can just be made out on the beach behind.

The only problem (besides the communal toilets) was that John and I exceeded the average age of the rest of the clientele by around 30 years, though they were extremely well behaved in terms of noise. It did remind me of Jeff Goldblum's line in the Big Chill that went something like "I get the feeling that there is a lot of sex going on around here".  I did occasionally have to remind myself that they were all adults, especially with the sun-burned ones, who I wanted to tell to put a t-shirt on. This pertained to my own children as well. At one point, I told John I was going to find Alex and Anna to tell them where we were. Then John pointed out it was 5:30pm and we were in the bar. Duh.

Where I laid my beach towel. Sickening, I know.

The entire weekend was tinged with a deep sadness, knowing that Alex would be heading back to the UK in early hours of Monday morning. Before my sister Ruth was diagnosed with cancer, my heart felt snug in it's protected place in my ribcage, my happiness inviolate. Now it's like I'm walking around with it on the outside of my body, completely vulnerable to any bump or bruise. There was a lot of crying and cuddling after the taxi drove off. We'll make plans to see him again sometime in the next month or so after he's settled into his new course and he's got an idea what sort of workload he's going to have.

When we woke up properly on Monday, it was moving day. It was also the hottest and stickiest day so far. It got hotter and stickier in three stages. During the first stage, I wondered if I could get away without wearing a bra. I entered the second stage when I started to fantasise about wearing disposable clothing. Finally, the idea of clothing of any variety seemed like a tyrannical plot. Around 4pm we finally moved all of our stuff into our new house and, lo and behold, the air con is only working in mine and John's room. Almost all of the delay about moving into this house has been about getting the air con to work. How naive were we not to check that all of the problems were sorted before we moved?

To cool off (physically and emotionally), Anna and I jumped into the university pool, which is unheated and never has anyone in it, so it's perfect. John arrived at the pool too close to closing to get in, so he walked over to the store to get stuff for dinner. He came home with ice cream, pasta, jarred ragu sauce, cheese and a remote controlled helicopter. Too bad he forgot the batteries, because we were forced to watch Fijian telly for the first time as our evening's entertainment.

The commercials are out of the 1980s, are repeated ad naseum and have catchy jingles like "you've got to wash, wash, wash your hands!" A University Challenge-type panel game with high school students demonstrated an interestingly diverse curriculum (Who will represent Fiji at this year's Pacific Sugar Forum? What's the difference between a warranty and a guarantee? Physics questions that I didn't understand the first time I heard them so cannot repeat here).

Anna and I stayed up and watched a dreadful modern version of Hawaii Five-O, the only resemblance to the original being the theme tune. Before I came here I thought that perhaps Fiji was a feral version of Hawaii, but I can say with complete certainty that it is not. What exactly it is, I'm not sure, but watching the telly here will certainly give me a better idea.


  1. "Before my sister Ruth was diagnosed with cancer, my heart felt snug in it's protected place in my ribcage, my happiness inviolate. Now it's like I'm walking around with it on the outside of my body, completely vulnerable to any bump or bruise." -- poignantly and beautifully put.

    So are the descriptions of your son's departure, the heat of the move in day, the helicopter with the dinner groceries.

  2. It's hard enough saying goodbye to the offspring when they are only heading off to a town but a few hours away. But I suppose it must be of some comfort to know that Alex is in a country stuffed full of people who are just a phonecall and a shortish car journey away. You have have so many good friends here who would be more than willing to help him out in any way required. (I hope that we are included in that list!)
    Oh, and can we have some pictures of the house, inside and out please? I want to see how it compares to Hagg Bank. Thank you. :) x