Tom’s haircut in Fiji…Deal of the century…A weird day with some glitches…

Tom, standing outside Kumar’s Hair Salon which generally attracts more men than women. We awaited Tom’s turn while sitting on the bench to the right.

Tom hadn’t had a haircut since July when we were living in Trinity Beach, Australia. It was a typical haircut in a chain type shop not unlike one would find in many major cities that offered both women’s and men’s cuts.  There are no chain-type shops, restaurants, or fast food establishments here in Vanua Levu, Fiji.

A few days ago, Junior decided it was time to fumigate our house after we’ve already been here a full two months. Insect control is often handled in between guest’s coming and goings. After these two months, we’d begun to find black fruit flies with the nastiest bites, comparable to bites from the sandflies in Morocco. 

With dozens of red inflamed bites on my hands, arms, legs, and feet we didn’t hesitate to have Junior fumigation the house. I didn’t ask what chemicals he uses. There was no point in making a big deal. It simply had to be done. With a plan to be shopping part of the day on Thursday, the fumigation at 11 am would be ideal.

View of Savusavu Bay lagoon while we waited for Ratnesh.

He’d planned to run the floor fan for hours afterward ensuring the air was cleared as much as possible.  Considering we don’t even have fruit in the house, it was odd we had fruit flies. 

The only reason we could surmise was from the veggies we continually purchased at the Farmers Market each week. Although I always wash everything as soon as we were home, it’s possible fruit flies could nest in the house.

These insidious creatures are nearly impossible to swat and when I was able to kill a few on my skin, my blood gushed out of them onto the bitten spot. Yuck. When we returned home we could already feel the difference in the air. As much as we’d prefer to live a low chemical lifestyle sometimes we have to weigh which scenario is ultimately more harmful. We opted for chemicals over bloody fruit flies.

Shoppers walked along the short strip mall.

Most often when Rasnesh drops us off in the village, we can plan he’ll be able to pick us up outside the door of the New World Market within 10 minutes of our call to let him know we’re ready. 

The grocery trolleys aren’t able to go outside due to a flight of steps and we have no choice but to carry all of our groceries outside to wait under the overhang in the shade while we wait. This would also include all the produce and eggs we’d purchased earlier at the Farmer’s Market.

After he collects us and our many bags at New World Market we then head a kilometer down the road to Fiji Meats where Helen keeps our standing order under refrigeration. It’s a good plan.

The strip mall is next door to the side entrance to the Farmers Market where we stopped for veggies after the haircut.

I started shopping at the Vodafone kiosk to purchase data while Tom ran across the street to the ATM.  Our only credit card purchases in the village are at the modern grocery store and the pharmacy. The rest, including Vodafone, require cash.  

In most cases, we can complete our litany of shopping stops in about an hour; Vodafone, Farmers Market, and New World in that order. With plenty of cash on hand, we headed to the barbershop Ratnesh had recommended seeing his friend Kumar, the most popular barber in the area. Rathnesh alerted us to the cost for a cut and suggested we let Kumar know we were friends. It helps to “know someone.”

After a few minutes of waiting outside the tiny shop, Ratnesh appeared explaining he had a fare that would take a few hours. He explained he’d return to pick us up as quickly as possible. 

Tom explained his haircut preference to Kumar, who listened attentively to ensure he’s getting it right.

At that point, the later pickup seemed inconsequential. It was a little after 11:20 am and he expected to be back by 1:30 pm, more time than we needed to shop. We’d find a way to stay busy.

There were a few men ahead of Tom. We sat outside the shop on a wobbly wooden bench people watching. The village is packed with the locals doing their shopping. We seldom observe travelers from afar. 

Many coming to Savusavu are staying in resorts and hotels, dining out for most meals requiring only tourist type shopping in the clothing and trinket shops. Seldom do we see tourists in the markets other than those who may be sightseeing.

Kumar assessing how he’d cut Tom’s hair.

As we sat outside awaiting Tom’s turn, we chuckled over the irony of our lives.  Who’d have thought years ago, that we’d be sitting on a wobbly bench in the sweltering heat after living on this fairly remote island for two months so far, absorbing the fascinating sights, sounds, and smells as we embrace the local culture and customs? 

For some odd reason, we feel right at home, sweaty clothes and all, swatting off the flies and frequently extending a heartfelt “bula” to a local passerby. Many in the village may have seen us over and again perhaps assuming we’re here for the “long haul” as newly implanted ex-pats. In this small village, everyone knows one another.

When Tom’s was beckoned into the shop, I followed behind finding a cozy spot to sit. Kumar didn’t mind if I took photos and I took these shown here today.

Kumar did a great job of trimming.

Tom opted for the buzz cut, as Kumar took one swipe after another of his long locks as I watched them fall to the floor. It had been four months since his last haircut.  His rationale for his shortest cut to date was simple. In two months, almost to the day, we’d be on our next cruise and his hair would be the perfect length. 

Kumar performed a meticulous cut. With 13 years in business, he easily knew what he was doing. We were impressed by his attention to detail. Here’s the odd part…the cost…for the haircut taking almost 20 minutes as he fine-tuned his work, it cost a paltry FJD $4, USD $1.85! Tom left another FJD $2, USD $.93 tip which Kumar greatly appreciated. Tipping is not expected or required in Fiji. Total haircut expenditure: FJD $6, USD $2.78!

By the time we wandered through the Farmers Market, it was shortly before noon. Making our purchases, we were out the door in less than 10 minutes. With a shortlist for New World Market which wouldn’t take more than 15 minutes, we decided to kill some time wandering along the shore, taking photos.

The tiny shop contained two makeshift barber chairs.  Zoom in for the price list in Fiji dollars.

It was hot, humid, and “buggie.” After sitting in the shade for a while, we made our way to the pharmacy for band-aids and then took off for the market. The cool air-conditioned air was a welcome relief as we wandered as slowly as possible through the three aisles filling our trolley with the few items we needed. 

At 1:10 pm, I called Rasnesh telling him we were checking out and would be waiting for him outside the store in five minutes. He was still one hour away, having picked up a customer across the island in Labasa at another airport.  How we’d keep our food cold standing outside the store escaped us. Ratnesh suggested he’d send a friend to pick us up within 10 minutes.

That worked for us. Ten minutes later Mickey arrived and we loaded the trunk with our purchases. Now, we’d head to Helen’s to pick up our roasted chickens and meat and we’d be done. 

The shop was clean, although tiny including the sale of products including sunglasses.

“Oh, oh,” Tom said, “There’s Helen walking down the road on her way to the bank!” The meat market would be closed in her absence. When we drove up to her shop, there was a note taped to the door that read, “Back at 2 pm.” It was 1:25.

We could hardly ask Mickey to wait for 35 minutes. We asked him to take us home and we’d figure it out later.  As we approached the house, groceries in hand, we heard a loud irritating noise. 

As it turned out Junior had left the fan on high oscillate mode to clear the air after the extermination and the fan broke from the housing causing it to rattle against the cage. We shut it off.

The hot, humid weather inspired Tom to go for the shortest cut he’s had yet.

OK.  We had no dinner prepared when we’d planned to eat one of the two roasted chickens we weren’t able to pick up. The fan we move back into the bedroom at night wasn’t working and we were hot and sweaty with no relief in sight by bedtime.

Once we put away the perishables, I sat down at my computer and notified Mario explaining the fan dilemma.  Then, I called Ratnesh asking if he had enough cash on him to pay for and pick up our meat and bring it out to us before Helen closed the shop at 5 pm. He agreed. Then, I called Helen, who’d returned to the store, letting her know Ratnesh was picking up and paying for our meat.

Within minutes, Junior arrived taking the fan with him to make the repairs. By 5 pm, Ratnesh arrived with the meat. We reimbursed him for the meat, asking him how much extra he wanted for picking up the meat. We agreed to an extra FJD $5, USD $2.36. By 5:20, junior returned with the fan, in tip-top shape after his repairs.  We were thrilled.

Boats in Savusavu Bay lagoon.

By 5:30, the produce was washed and refrigerated, the dinner salad was chilling, the huge bag of green beans was cleaned and washed and we sat down to play Gin for an hour before dinner.

Amid these relatively innocuous inconveniences, we stayed calm and optimistic that all would work out. We were more concerned over the fan than any of it. We could have easily whipped up something for dinner. 

View of Savusavu Bay lagoon.

The biting fruit flies were gone. Tom won the Gin game and we have a lovely dinner of roasted chicken, salad, green beans, and a low carb muffin slathered in New Zealand butter. We watched a few shows after dinner and had a restful night. Life is good.

Photo from one year ago today, November 6, 2014:

Overall, groceries were more expensive in Hawaii. However, with the fact, as shown here that we purchase no junk food, we can get by for less cost than others may. We used the unsweetened chocolate for making low carb fudge made with cream cheese, butter, and chocolate. We’ve been unable to find the ingredients to make fudge in Fiji. For more details on grocery shopping in Maui, please click here.



Comments and responses Tom’s haircut in Fiji…Deal of the century…A weird day with some glitches…

  1. Michelle Burger Reply

    Great story of your day! And I could sit and look at that lagoon for hours, but not if it was overly hot or humid :).

  2. Jessica Reply

    Michelle, thanks for comment about our story! Hearing from you means so much to us. The heat and humidity is lower today. Its such a pleasant relief to be cooler for a day or two. Hope all is going well your way! Please write and say hello and tell us about YOU anytime!

    Warmest regards,
    Jess & Tom

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