A work in progress…Island living…

The lush green hills of Vanua Levu with a vast array of vegetation contribute to this island’s astounding beauty. 

The realities of living on a fairly remote island are frequently brought to the forefront. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t comparable to living on an island, for example, on the upcoming returning US TV series, “Survivor.”

We don’t have to sleep on a palm frond on the ground, gather wood for the fire and forage, fish and hunt for our food. Big difference. Then again, we aren’t going to win $1 million for our efforts to attain comfort, nor would we want to make that type of effort, totally out of our league.

Often we stumble upon other blog writers who live on the various islands carrying heavy backpacks, sleeping in tents or hostels, showering at campgrounds, or bathing in the sea and eating what they can find offered on roadside stands at modest costs. That’s not us either.

Tom took this photo atop the steep cliff, he climbed.

When we look at our old lives with every convenience we could possibly need, we’re shocked we did as well as we do going from a life of abundance to a life of minimal amenities.

Sure, we’ve noticed the simple items we previously took for granted and certainly could use; a metal spatula to flip eggs (no such thing available in the village); a baking pan (we purchased a few cheap tinfoil pans); a large pot (if we ate pasta, which we don’t, a pot large enough to cook the noodles which would be useful for many of our dishes): a TV, (in order to watch the news); a more comfy bed (it feels as if we’re sleeping on a box spring and we just maybe); cream cheese, Parmesan cheese and pre-grated cheese (none of which is available in any of the stores); more than one ground coffee selection and the eventual arrival of our box of supplies we’d shipped two weeks ago from Australia supposed to arrive in under ten days.

There’s a lake on the perimeter of the property.

This list could go on and on including having a car, a washer, two chaise lounges by the pool, and stable working wifi. This morning I took out the dirty hand towels I’d placed into the freezer last night (to avoid ants) and washed them by hand, hanging them on the veranda railing to dry.

Today, the wifi is working. Yesterday afternoon, it wasn’t working for several hours due to an outage. This morning, I typed fast and furiously in hopes of getting this post done and uploaded before we lose the signal again out or it slows to a crawl with the busy online weekend activity. 

Atop the steep hill on Sewak’s property, we were taken by the views.

Am I complaining?  It sounds as if I am. But, compared to email, writing online cannot depict the “tone” in one’s voice or the “expression” on one’s face to grasp the full meaning of the words.  We’re surprisingly content. 

We’re finding “workarounds” for all of the above items and more: cooking in small batches due to lack of proper pans, flipping eggs with a butter knife; listening to podcasts on our phones to stay abreast of the news; grating chunks of cheese by hand (there a hand grater here), using the tiny fine blades for grating mozzarella to “look like” Parmesan cheese; and playing Gin when the power and wifi are out.

Only a few months ago, Sewak had this road excavating reaching high above his house.

With good lettuce, hard to find, and not a staple of Fijian cooking, we have no choice but to purchase whole cabbage for our nightly salads. As in many countries, few have shredded cabbage in a bag. Each day I slice the amount equivalent to one of those prepared bags of “coleslaw mix.” 

It’s a tedious process along with scraping off the skins of whole carrots (no working peeler here) and then dicing them into tiny pieces for the coleslaw. Unable to find any suitable dressings in most countries I also make a huge batch of salad dressing to last for several days.

Last night, for the first time in Fiji, we had steak for dinner, the very best quality the meat market offered. We’d purchased enough to last two nights, cooked fresh each night. It was tough with lots of grizzle, making chewing quite a challenge. 

Sewak explained it was only 10 years ago that electricity was brought into this area to fulfill the needs of a few homes.

Grass-fed meat can be tough at times. It was the kind of chewing where one ends up with a huge wad in their cheek, unable to get it, masticated enough to swallow, resulting in spitting out a ping pong sized clump into a paper towel. It reminded me of the overcooked steaks we ate as kids with the edges curled up from being overcooked under the broiler. Tom struggled with it last night. Me, not as much. 

Tonight, we have a comparable amount of steak left for dinner. Currently, it’s marinating in a marinade I made this morning. I suggested to Tom that I’d be happy to finish the steak over the next two nights and I’ll make something else for him. He refused. He insisted he’d eat it one more time. With the small freezer with little room for meat storage, we only keep enough to last for one week. It’s unlikely we’ll purchase steak again here in Fiji.

Fiji’s coral reef is second to none in the world and a favorite location for scuba divers.

We have enough frozen meat on hand to make Sunday and Monday’s meals and then, on Tuesday, we’ll shop again. Each week, I create a menu of our nightly meals followed by a grocery list on the app on my phone commensurate with the menu. This prevents shopping from being confusing and willy nilly at the time, especially with the limited products available in the shops.

Amid all of these relatively minor inconveniences, we’re happy to be here in Savusavu, Fiji.  Our workarounds are indeed “working.” The sense of pleasure we derive from figuring out ways to adapt continues to fuel our desires to continue to visit remote locations throughout the world in years to come.

With a 70% chance of rain today and 90% for tomorrow, it appears we’ll be staying put over the weekend. With dozens of new photos to share, plus a fun video we made, we certainly won’t be at a shortage of material until once again we get out to explore.

The ocean is always mesmerizing from every angle.

Have a fabulous weekend! We certainly will, rain or shine, tough steak and all!

                                         Photo from one year ago today, September 19, 2014:

It was one year ago we arrived in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to await an upcoming cruise in six days sailing to Hawaii. Finally, we were heading toward the US island where we’d see our kids and grandkids over the Christmas holiday. For more details, please click here.

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