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Fireworks and Trip Planning

October 30, 2016

I’ve been sitting at my computer ALL day today researching 3 different upcoming trips. The one that has been taking up the most time is a road trip I’m planning up PCH from LA to San Francisco. And hopefully over to Point Reyes. I haven’t been to Point Reyes yet but oh my goodness, it looks amazing. I hadn’t even heard of Alamere Falls until today. Now I’m trying to figure out how we can squeeze everything in. There is WAY too much to see in California on just a 5 day trip. My Dutch friend is flying in and I want to show her EVERYTHING, but I’m realizing that’s just not possible and I’m not sure what to cut out. Everything is so fabulous. But the planning of it is making my brain hurt.

In between all of that research, I’ve been trying to look up shore excursions for an upcoming Caribbean cruise AND trying to look for houses in Chile. Just in case I decide to go there next year.

Thank goodness today is a day off! AND my roommate is gone, so the internet is working ok. When we both try to use it it basically just stops working. =( Yesterday was Diwali and today is a holiday for everyone here in Fiji. Which makes me happy since all the fireworks last night kept us awake till after 1 am. I have never in my life seen so many fireworks. They were going off in every direction around our house! For HOURS. And it was raining the entire time. Combined with all the “Diwali” lights that everyone puts up on their houses (they look just like Christmas lights) it felt so odd. The weather didn’t feel like the 4th of July, but the fireworks did. And the lights looked like Christmas. But it’s October. Anyway, after a few hours of trying to get pictures from the house, I went outside in the rain and got some video of the fireworks that our neighbors were shooting off. These pictures below are just from our front door. The phone doesn’t take great pictures but I was too lazy to go get my camera, although I wish I would have – it would have been a great time to experiment with fireworks photography.

Counting the days now until I am home. 3 weeks from today. So bittersweet!

Oh Hey, an Update!

September 23, 2016

Guys, I’m still alive! I know I haven’t written in forever, and I’ve had more than a few people mention it, so I’m taking the time to sit here and type up a few words for you all. (Actually I’m really just procrastinating from what I should be doing and that is writing a post for ExpatPost – which is another reason I haven’t posted here lately, I’ve been writing some for them.)

My absence from this blog has been due to sketchy internet, a busy schedule, and just pure apathy. Ha. It’s certainly not for lack of material to write as life here is as crazy as ever. Sometimes I think I should have started a log of all the things I have googled here. Just yesterday I googled “can you hear termites eating wood?” Because I know termites live in my room (every now and then a pile of tiny round balls of wood (??) will appear on the floor, and sometimes I hear an odd scratching sound coming from the floor. But apparently you can’t hear termites eating. So I’m really not sure what else lives in my room with me. I’m not too worried about the termites because I won’t be here long enough to witness the entire house collapse. But if I planned to live here long term, I’d be worried. They are eating a lot of the floorboards of my second story room, ha.

Last week I got back from spending a fabulous week in the tiny Kingdom of Tonga, my 48th country, what?


Look at that huge sun!

For the girl who as a kid said she was never going to get married (so far that’s true) and would just live at home forever, I’ve sure covered a lot of ground these past 11 years. Something that in my wildest dreams I never imagined I would get to do. Life is such a crazy adventure! Who knows what the future holds, I have no clue where I will be after January of next year, but I am so thankful that I know WHO holds the future, and I already know He has something fabulous in store!


Sunset on the tiny island of Pangaimotu, Kingdom of Tonga

I have hundreds of cool pictures from my week in Tonga, and I wish I could post them all here. What a beautiful little country!

Anyway, I’m just still plugging along over here in Fiji and counting the days until I get to hug all my family members again, especially those nephews and niece, and get to see all my Lighthouse people again. I miss my church like crazy! About 8 more weeks until I get to fly home. Just in time for Thanksgiving, that’s how lucky I am. =) Can. Not. Wait!


Adventures in Shopping

May 7, 2016

The other day my flatmate and I set out after school to buy a small table and chairs for our house. When I moved in there wasn’t much furniture in the house (and there still isn’t.) There were three chairs, of sorts, and that was it!! No table and chairs for eating, no couches, nothing. We’re living pretty “Fijian” here I guess? Anyway, we finally went to buy something so at least now we have a place to eat. I had seen a cheap (that term is so relative, it was the equivalent of $150 USD and back home I wouldn’t even pay 50 bucks for this thing!

But things are EXPENSIVE here, and this we could afford) table and chairs at a store in town, so we went to buy it. While there I also bought a small bookshelf (again it cost more than I’d normally pay) so I could at least have some sort of furniture in my room. The purchasing of these items, alone, was an adventure, but not nearly as much of one as the delivery of those items.

When we bought these items it took 3 people to ring up the items, and one to keep running up and down the stairs to get the prices so the clerk could ring them up. Then it took all of them to interpret the directions to our house (and they still got it wrong when they actually came to deliver.)

Day of delivery: They told me they would call ahead of time to make sure we were home (since we’d be at school all day) but as I was walking home from school I got a call saying “deliveryman is already there.” We actually had about FOUR phone calls between us in the time it took me to finish walking home. He’d say something, I wouldn’t understand, he’d hang up, I’d call back. The whole phone call process was ridiculously funny. When I finally got home, I saw the delivery truck turning onto our street (from the street where he’d driven while trying to find our house – he’d driven past and made a wrong turn.) Three men jumped out and started unloading our table and chairs. The man carrying the table kept banging the table legs into the fence and doorjamb. I actually stopped him and helped him turn the table sideways and carry it through the door since he kept trying to get it to fit and kept hitting the legs. I couldn’t believe the careless way they treated the table! My flatmate later told me they are careless like that with everything. That’s why things always get broken in the moving process here. =(

After they brought the table and chairs in, they went out to get my bookshelf. When they brought it in, I saw that the top part was pulling away from the back part of the shelf. Granted this is not a nice piece of furniture, but I didn’t want to start out with it broken already. So I asked them about it, since it hadn’t been broken when I saw it in the store. (After seeing how they treat things here, it’s no wonder it broke). They tried to tell me that it could be easily fixed by tightening a screw in the shelf. It was so comical I almost laughed. The screw was nowhere near the problem area! I might not be mechanically inclined but I DO have common sense. They insisted that would fix it and asked me for a screwdriver. I went and got one for them, and watched as they were not able to fix it, obviously. Then they tried to tell me it was a different part that needed to be tightened. Well, they tried that and it didn’t work either. I was kinda stunned that three men were honestly trying to “fix” something in such a wrong way. Maybe they thought the (not so) dumb white lady would fall for it? Uh, nope, sorry. When they (obviously) couldn’t fix it, and I insisted I either wanted a new one or my money back, they told me they would bring a new one on Saturday (this was on a Wed). I thought that was intriguing, since I hadn’t seen any other bookshelves that size in the store. And here, what you see on the floor is what you get. There is no backroom full of stock. And often stores look a bit like yard sales with what is out on the salesfloor. It’s odd, honestly. But I figured ok whatever and waited until Saturday (today).

Well, why I thought this day would turn out differently, I don’t know, but thank goodness I didn’t have my heart set on getting that bookshelf because…I didn’t get it. But they did try to deliver it again. THE SAME ONE. Only this time it looked WORSE. You guys, I don’t understand people here. WHY on earth would you bring me the same bookshelf that I sent back? And bring it back looking even worse? That boggles my mind. I guess I give people too much credit here, but honestly…..

When the guy started to pull it out of the truck, I noticed the crack right away and pointed it out. It was a new delivery guy, I think, but I definitely recognized the driver, and when he got out, he was kind of apologetic like “we don’t have any more so you can have your money back.” I was wondering why on earth they didn’t just say that on the phone when I called this morning, instead of just saying “We’ll deliver after 4.” So I said thank you and they put it back in the truck and left. And I walked away laughing in disbelief.

Some days I just don’t understand this place. Like, every day.


Flora and fauna of our backyard

April 25, 2016

This post is nothing exciting, but I was just out in the yard snapping a few pictures (after I discovered some odd growths on one of our trees while taking laundry off of the line) and decided to post them for you to see.


I’m so curious as to these growths on these leaves.




The cat that lives in our yard.





Internet frustrations

April 20, 2016

If you only KNEW how hard I have tried recently to update this blog….and the post I was working on STILL won’t cooperate, so we’ll save that for another day. Or maybe never. We’ll see if I’m ever in the mood again to tackle it. 😉

Life here has been one series of interesting events after another. And each week it seems I am working on something new at the school. So I’ve *started* a lot of things, but haven’t quite managed to *finish* anything as I keep getting pulled away to tackle something new. I think I will know a little bit about everything here after a while. =) BUT, I am here to help, so it doesn’t matter to me what I do. As long as I can show up each day and be a blessing then I’m accomplishing why I came.  Life sure is never dull here though! The multitude of geckos, toads, and termites that either LIVE in the house or frequently visit (toads) help to keep life just as interesting when we are home as when we are away.

I won’t try to upload any pictures tonight, as that seems to jinx the internet, but maybe one of these days I will be able to give you a peek into what is going on here.  AND I have a week off in June so I am *hoping* to be able to get away to some nearby islands and actually do some sightseeing in Fiji- so maybe I will have some pretty pictures to post eventually, too!

The Highs and Lows of Travel Life

April 8, 2016

Wow this week has been an interesting one! Cyclones. Earthquakes. The South Pacific won’t bore you, that’s for sure. And in amongst travel, life still goes on. So while trying to deal with changing travel plans and rebooking flights, and figuring out accommodations for the next few days here in Vanuatu due to flying on Sunday instead of Friday, there was sad news from back home to deal with. I am so thankful, though, that the internet worked ALL day long here yesterday (first day since I’ve been here that we’ve had internet all day) and enabled me to keep up with the news back home. Of course that meant that the emotions of it all kept resurfacing with each new email, but…it was expected and I knew that this day would come, so at least I had warning. The staff here at the Hideaway Resort has been fabulous. They’ve been so accommodating and sweet and I am so thankful that I was here for all that I had to deal with. I highly recommend staying on Hideaway Island at the resort if you visit Port Vila! (And the snorkeling is awesome)

A few pictures from the past few days:





Hideaway Island


Mele Cascades



Hideaway Island Resort



If my internet would cooperate better with WordPress I would have a TON more photos to show you. But I can’t upload them, and I know that in the busyness of life that awaits me back in Fiji, combined with our poor internet, they will probably never get posted here. But trust me, it’s cool here. =)



Vanuatu Volcano tips

April 4, 2016

You guys, you should visit Vanuatu and I’ll tell you why. It’s AMAZING. Really. The biggest highlight for me so far has been Tanna Island and Mt. Yasur, but rainy weather aside, I’m loving all of Vanuatu.

Right now I’m sitting at Hideaway Island Resort on the tiny Hideaway Island and rain is falling all around me. I’m *really*hoping it clears up tomorrow as I’m hoping to get out and snorkel, but having a down day today is fine with me, and even if it’s raining I’m still going to snorkel. This place is so cute and there are so many little places to sit and relax and enjoy the views.
Mt. Yasur:
I did as much homework as I could before this trip, but looking back I realize there was a lot I didn’t know/wasn’t able to find out ahead of time. Originally I had thought about booking my Mt. Yasur excursion on my own, but after realizing that flights alone to Tanna Island were more expensive than combo packages, I quickly threw that idea out the window. I contacted two different companies that provide excursions to Tanna and then booked the cheaper one. I highly recommend Unity Airlines for this trip. They didn’t provide as much communication as I thought they should have with regards to what to expect on this trip, so that’s why I am writing this.
The things they didn’t tell us: there is a departure tax on all domestic flights within Vanuatu. That said, I quickly realized that they were only charging the tourists the tax, as others just walked on past the counter without paying. They also didn’t tell us that there is a weight limit on what you can take on the plane, so that is something good to know ahead of time. They only allowed us 5kg to carry on and 10 kg to “check” (it’s just thrown in the plane behind you). The rest we had to pay to leave at the airport. These fees aren’t expensive, a few bucks here and there. But it would have been good to know ahead of time as you do want to use cash as much as possible here. They charge a lot to use credit cards (on the rare times they are even accepted) and ATMS also charge high fees. They also didn’t tell us that in certain months it can be cold up on top of the volcano. So it’s good to bring a jacket and wear long pants. I recommend long pants anyway as when the ash flies it can really sting your legs (and eyes, etc.).
We stayed at the Evergreen Resort and I absolutely loved it. Others found it a bit rustic but I found it delightfully charming. And the view of the stars at night was simply amazing. I highly recommend it. The food was good and our tour included dinner and breakfast. I think the value for money on this Unity Airlines package was really good.
From the resorts near the airport, it takes 1.5 hours to get to the base of the volcano. Then you have to wait there while all the other tourists show up. Once everyone is there, they perform some sort of ceremony (which felt like it was just for the benefit of tourists) allowing you to approach the volcano, and then everyone is divided into groups and you drive up closer to the volcano. Once you are at the very base of the volcano, you have to walk up a ways to get to the top. It takes around 20 minutes or so and is fairly steep. The last part of the walk is up volcanic ash and is a little bit difficult.  But once you are at the top it is so worth it! As the sun begins to set, you can see the eruptions of the volcano better and it becomes a spectacular fireworks show. The loud booms of each eruption are part of the fun and you can almost feel them. As I fell asleep that night I heard the loud explosions playing over and over again in my head. I dreamed of volcanoes that night. =)
After the sun has set you slowly descend the volcano using the provided flashlights and are driven to a fruit feast waiting for you. After drinking coconuts and bottled water and eating sugar cane and cucumbers and bananas you are driven 1.5 hours back to your accommodations where, in our case, dinner waits.  Be warned, though. The ride to and from the volcano will be like nothing you have ever experienced! If you don’t like bumpy rides, this is not for you. I can’t really put into words just how intense the ride is. The best way to describe it is wondering if all your internal organs are still in their original places once you arrive!
The next morning we checked out of our accommodations and were driven back to the airport to await the arrival of the charter flight arriving from Port Vila.
This was one of THE coolest experiences ever and I am so, SO glad that I forked over the money to do it. It’s expensive, but once you take into account all that is included, it seems like such a great deal. And it’s certainly worth every penny.
You should definitely add this to your bucket list!
General Vanuatu tips:
* You can drink the water. Some people say it makes them sick because they aren’t used to the high levels of minerals. I’ve been drinking it just fine though, in small quantities supplemented by bottled water that has been bottled elsewhere.
*To get around simply find a van that has a B on the license plate, tell them where you are going and if they agree, jump on. Costs 150 Vatu ($1.50 USD)
*Find an Au Bon Marche supermarket if you want to find Aussie/Kiwi or French food products. Prices are very reasonable.
*Visit Hideaway Island. I’m spending a few days here and I LOVE it already. Free boat ride to the island. There is an entrance fee if you aren’t spending the night here. Home to the world’s only underwater post office. You can mail postcards there.