Thursday, 17 January 2013

Always look on the bright side of life*

Anna came back from the UK. It was always going to be a bit of a gamble letting her go back to visit so soon after we arrived as there was a district possibility that she’d seek asylum with a willing aunt, her brother or an ex-neighbour. But after five weeks of indulging in a proper English Christmas (including three proper Christmas dinners) she was ready to come “home” to Fiji. She starts her international baccalaureate next week, which will be the first proper work that she’s done since June 2012 when she finished her GCSEs before we moved. I expect her brain will hurt for the first couple of weeks.

My job hunt is progressing nicely. I have been fortunate to get a position at the Ministry of Health working on maternal and child health information systems. From the responses that I get from fellow expats (shock, surprise, hearty congratulations) I assume that it’s fairly unusual for the trailing spouse to sort out employment in such a short time here. Luckily, my skills fit in nicely with the work around some of the health-related Millennium Development Goals. Though I have enjoyed my time off, I am relieved and excited about starting work. Believe me, I know that this is a privileged situation to be in.

In my progression from not having a furry pet larger than a gerbil in over twenty years to becoming a certified CCL (crazy cat lady), I have travelled a great distance. To Nadi and back, in fact. On the bus on the way back from Nadi after picking Anna up at the airport, I got a phone call from the vet’s office in Suva (currently, the only practicing vet in town) to say that she needed to extend her leave by a week. Poor Reg was barely limping along with his suppurating leg wound. A few phone calls later, and we’d hired a car so that we could drive back to Nadi the next day with Reg to see the vets at Animals Fiji.

Taking a sick cat on a 3 ½ hour drive requires a certain amount of planning. Litter tray? Check. Towels? Check. Goat’s milk? Check. Fresh tuna offcuts from the my favourite place to buy fish, Island Ika in Toorak? Check. Poor Anna sat in the back with the mewling Reg, who was not interested in the sashimi or milk, but was rather intent on escaping from a moving vehicle. Eventually we pulled up at Animals Fiji and my heart sank. A couple of make-shift looking buildings with a lot of animals wandering about did not instil confidence. But never judge a book by its cover! What wonderful staff, obviously working on a shoe-string (BTW - consider them if you're a local looking for a charity to donate to). Thirty minutes later we were parked up at McDonalds enjoying our lunch. Again, Reg turned up his nose at the tuna and discovered a love of fries (after we forced down the new antibiotics).

The trip home was much more pleasant as Reg, who had not shut up for the previous five hours, passed out from exhaustion and stayed curled up in Anna’s lap the entire way home. He’s now almost completely recovered but is irrevocably spoiled.

Reg sleeps to recuperate while Khali just looks gorgeous.

Alex has booked his flights for coming to visit in March during his Easter break. Travelling here is a journey, not just a trip. The investment cash and time are both substantial – it takes around 40 hours each way to Newcastle, which means that you spend four days of your holiday travelling (though I think that it works out that you only actually lose three calendar days which is too taxing for my brain to compute). I’m making plans for the week that his visit and Anna’s school holiday overlap to go and stay in a resort. It’s bizarre but strangely pleasing to think that I’ll have to book time off of work.

*For the full lyrics of Eric Idle's song, click here.

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