Monopoly in the hospital (She had rat-lung worm! -look it up: http://www.cdc.gov/NCIDOD/dpd/parasites/angiostrongylus/factsht_angiostrongylus.htm)
Well, here we are in March, and life is moving here in Fiji. I was just talking with someone the other day about the difference between this year and last year around this time. My first year I always felt like I had more time than I knew what to do with and was begging for enough work to fill up a day; now my general feeling is that there isn't enough time in a day/month/before I leave to get done everything I would like. I am getting ever closer to finishing my tree planting endeavor in Labasa. It has been a long time in planning and getting appropriate approvals and the like, but we will hopefully start this weekend, which is very exciting. I have been sitting down with people over the last couple weeks to plan the renovations of the children's park we are working on. We still have sometime before work can begin, it is usually advisable to wait to start construction until after the rainy season (late April, early May), but there is a surprisingly large amount of planning that needs to go into something like this. [If anyone out there knows anything about building playgrounds shoot me an email...you might just have earned yourself a life long friend...] National Youth Day is coming up on March 23rd, and I have been asked to speak at the event they are holding here in Labasa about climate change and Fiji's environmental issues. It is exciting, but a little daunting; working out a 20 minute talk that encompasses all of that while giving people things they can do individually to mitigate these problems is going to take some work, but it is a rare opportunity to talk to a large audience of young people and I'm trying to make the best of it. My environmental group is also gearing up for another round of waste management workshops with local women's and youth groups as well as organizing environmental movie nights with local schools.
Rachel and I are shopping around a proposal for a poster campaign to encourage sustainable catch sizes. We have the poster essentially designed, we are just looking for funding for the printing and the transportation to do the awareness work that will accompany it. It also looks like I will be going down to her side of the island to do some of the marine protected area monitoring trainings she will be holding in several villages. Looking forward to that, as it's been awhile since I've been out on the water.
Track season is also in full swing. We had our interhouse meet last week (which is essentially tryouts) and we have started official practices this week. It actually looks like we have some good distance runners this year (as opposed to last year when we only had 1 come out for the team), which is exciting. Not that I take issue with coaching short distance runners, I just feel I know a bit more about the LD training work. Our first meet will be in April, and the national meet will be held in May.
I had a reasonably interesting birthday. A couple people were in town and we decided to do a brief tour of the bars here in Labasa. As we were sitting and eating a lateish dinner at our fourth or fifth stop the waitress came up and told us that their was a fire on the main street and we ought to step outside to see it. Initially we wrote it off, finished our dinner and prepared to move on to the next establishment. We stepped out onto the main street to find more people than I have ever seen on the streets of Labasa watching the largest supermarket here completely engulfed in flames. It was one of the crazier things I have seen here. The local fire department did a surprisingly good job at containing the fire (the building abuts a couple others and could have easily caught half the town on fire). The full story can be found on the Fiji Times website here: http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?ref=archive&id=115672 ...sometimes they move their links around, so if you would like to track it down manually it is in the March second edition under the title: Inferno, an all-night fight to save a town.
That's about all of the big news for the time being. I'm still trying to figure out what to do with all my leave. Again, it figures that I have all this vacation time at the same time that i have all this work to do. I'll maybe be planning a diving trip in early April, but with the rest I am still looking for options. [If anyone knows of a not obvious way to get cheap flights to New Zealand, Australia, Vanuatu, or anywhere else around here they may also be become my best friend]