Quite a day in the neighborhood…”Looking up”…

This seaweed was offered for sale at the Farmers Market for FJD $5, USD $2.32 for a kilo (2.2 pounds). We didn’t purchase this.

Where do I begin? Yesterday, was quite a day. First off, it was the hottest day we’ve had in Fiji to date. It wasn’t only the temperature, which hovered around 90F, 32.2C, it was the humidity that also hovered around 90% on an otherwise sunny day.

In order to dry off after showering, we used the fan in the bedroom to get the sticky moisture off our skin. With no AC in the house, by the time we headed out the door at 1:00 pm for our weekly shopping trip to the village we were sweaty and sticky.

In our old lives, we often suffered from such humidity amid the worst of Minnesota’s summer heat, especially before and after a bad storm when the power was knocked out, often for days at a time. Once we got the generator going, the first to power up was the refrigerator and the AC.

Since the onset of our travels over three years ago, we’ve either didn’t have access to AC or didn’t use it during the day. If we had AC, to avoid high electrical costs for the owners of the properties, we seldom used it. There were AC units built into the wall in the bedrooms of only a few houses we’ve rented along the way.

Are we used to the heat? If we didn’t get used to it in Kenya, we never would. To a degree (no pun intended) we finally were able to tolerate it without complaint, accepting it as a part of our new lives. 

Yesterday, I sat on a bench waiting for Tom to return from the ATM after I’d purchased data from the Vodafone kiosk. He’s on the sidewalk across the street wearing a white shirt, carrying the Costco bag on his right shoulder.

Living in Kenya was two years ago and yet today, this much later, we still feel the brunt of the heat and humidity although not as badly as in the beginning. It’s kind of like hunger, thirst, or the need for sleep, it’s constant. I suppose the tolerance comes when one makes a decision not to notice it or discuss it as often.

Without a particular plan in place, long ago, we decided to be as tough and resilient as possible, which over time has escalated bit by bit. We’re not totally mindless of physical discomforts, but we continue to strive toward that ultimate goal which may in fact never occur. After all, we are human. 

And, when Tom didn’t complain for days about his abscessed tooth and the resulting discomfort, knowing it was the weekend and there was nothing we could do or… When over the past several days, I was suffering severe pain in my neck from bending my head down for days working on my dysfunctional computer, I, too, kept it to myself until finally the ice pack came out of the freezer and I had no choice but to explain.

Of course, we each prefer to provide love, care, and support to one another during periods of discomfort or pain. But, we’ve found that our own tolerance level can be exacerbated by quietly figuring it out on our own for at least a short period of time.

With the ice pack as my giveaway, I told Tom the issues with my computer which appeared ready to crash, and the resulting “pain in the neck” over the past several days.

My neck joins in with the horrible spinal condition I’ve had for 25 years for which the pain in my back has been remedied by a diet in reducing inflammation. But, the neck, with overuse, seems oblivious to the diet, and every six months or so I find myself hardly able to move my head for a few days.  

The sunny day’s heat in Savusavu was one of the hottest and most humid to date. It felt great to enter the New World Market, which is located across the street at the furthest corner.

My solution to the neck pain is clear; stop looking down…ice often for 20 minutes every few hours…and much to my dislike, take Aleve (after eating) for a few days. This morning I’m greatly improved after ramping up my usual treatment plan.

Yesterday, when we headed out with Ratnesh, I was uncomfortable, in pain, and feeling the heat and humidity more than ever. 

“Let’s get this shopping over as quickly as possible,” I told Tom and also Ratnesh particularly with the intent of alerting him that it wouldn’t be a good day to leave us waiting outside New World market in the heat while he took another distant fare, leaving us to wait for 40 minutes. He readily agreed to pick us up within minutes of our call.

Luckily, the shopping zipped along quickly and easily with no queue at the Vodafone store; the vegetables we wanted were readily available in the Farmers Market; New World grocery had 90% of the items on our list, and Helen at Fiji Meats had returned from the bank and our meats and roasted chicken were packed in minutes.

A mere 75 minutes after we left we were back home. The AC in Ratws34wnesh’s car helped cool us off for a while and although still uncomfortable, we unpacked the groceries and I started the time-consuming process of washing the many bags of vegetables. 

With no pesticides or preservatives used in growing produce in Fiji, cleaning produce is a laborious process ensuring each and every bug is removed and the dirt is carefully washed away. With only 24 inches (.61 meters) of kitchen counter space to work with, the task is particularly challenging.

Yesterday morning, we posted an early photo of Sewak’s garden. In the afternoon, they brought us a bag of produce. Today, I’ll roast some of these for tonight’s dinner.

In many countries produce is sprayed with water and preservatives. When purchased it looks bright and fresh. In most countries we visit, produce isn’t washed arriving at the market straight from the fields, dirt, bugs, bug eaten leaves and all. 

Overall, we love this fact. Yesterday, with bags and bags of dirty, bug covered vegetables in front of me, the heat and humidity at the peak of the day, and my inability to “look down” into the sink, I decided to only do what I could, finishing the rest today.

Tom offered to do it. Since I’ve always handled this task, I knew his frustration level and the time it would take wouldn’t be worth the angst it would cause him (and me).  Luckily, earlier in the day, I’d made dinner’s side dishes; salad and mushroom casserole. With the roasted chickens we’d picked up at Helen’s, dinner would be easy.

Before tackling the task, Tom poured me a fresh mug of iced tea while I changed into one of my cool long sleep shirts. As I cleaned the veggies with my head up, never looking down, I thought about the problems with my laptop. I’m a big user. I usually download no less than 40 gigs of movies and shows a week utilizing many added downloaded apps. None of this should be an issue.

The simple fact is that Windows 8.1 touchscreen is an unstable operating system, plain and simple. After reading about upgrading to Windows 10, we decided against it when it still has numerous bugs yet to be resolved. “Love the one your with,” so I say. Next time we purchase we’ll have few options but for now, we do.

The facts were clear. I had to “refresh” my computer which would remove all my downloaded apps from various websites but would save all of my files and photos (all of which are backed up on a cloud and external hard drive). It would be a time-consuming fix, putting everything back in order and hopefully starting fresh. I started the process after I cleaned the bulk of the veggies.

Tom’s midday snack includes streaky bacon and slices of Haloumi cheese sautéed in ghee.

Sweating like crazy, still “looking up,” hair in a bundle, wearing my “pajamas,” I cringed when I heard voices along the side of the house approaching our veranda. Sewak and his wife, Lita, whom we’d yet to meet, who’d been visiting family in Australia, stopped by for a visit with Badal, our friendly nightly visitor, wagging his tail as they approached.

“Oh my goodness,” I whispered to Tom under my breath, “We have company.” There was nothing I could do but greet them in my nightshirt, sweat pouring down my temples and still “looking up.”

They’d brought along a bag of produce from their garden; white eggplant, tomatoes, and zucchini. They also offered us a bag of leftover sweets from Diwala, the Indian holiday celebration for which we posted a story last week. I sadly stated I can’t eat sweets or grains but was grateful for the kind offer. Tom grabbed the bag out of my hands saying, “I’ll eat that!” 

Offering them cold glasses of iced tea, they sat on the sofa and chatted for about an hour. Never mentioning my neck problem or discomfort, I cringed when I had to attend to my laptop a few times that required my attention as the “refresh” process continued. I apologized for the few moments I took my eyes away to attend to a few required clicks.

Then I cringed again when Sewak mentioned they were having trouble getting Skype to work on their ancient laptop which I’d fixed a few months ago. But, not unlike many seniors in today’s world and especially with technology relatively new to Fiji, they didn’t have a clue what to do when they couldn’t seem to be able to call their daughter.

Of course, I offered to fix their computer today at 1:00 pm. Hopefully, by then, the pelting rain will have stopped and I’ll be able to “look down” long enough to walk the treacherous path to their house and to be able to get their laptop working properly. If necessary, we’ll bundle up in our hooded jackets to make our way up the steep walk up the hill to their home.

My laptop is back in business, happily humming along with its “fix” along with the hours I spent late yesterday putting it all back in order. In the heat, I stacked two-bed pillows on my lap to raise it high enough that I only had to divert my eyes, not my neck downwards.

Today, again hot and humid the two pillows are still on my lap and after a fairly restful night, things are finally “looking up.”

Photo from one year ago today, November 20, 2014:

Maui never disappointed with mostly sunny days, perfect warm weather, and gorgeous views. For more details on this date one year ago, please click here.