Trip to town…Nuances in a small village…

A mooring spot for the locals.

Each Thursday Rasnesh picks us up to take us to go to the village to shop after we’ve completed and uploaded the day’s post.  In most cases, we’re done by 11:30 am.

Timing is everything.  We can’t choose just anytime to go when Rasnesh
takes off for lunch each day around noon and Helen is gone from the her store, Fiji Meats, usually between noon and 2 pm.   Fiji meats is always our last stop after the Vodafone kiosk (data), the Farmers Market and New World Market.

If we wait to go after 2 pm, the Farmers Market had thinned out for the day and its difficult to find items on our list.  Each week, we carefully plan the meals before shopping.  Although its often subject to change when we can’t find basic ingredients such as lettuce, which is never available at New World and is hard to find at the Farmers Market later in the day.

As a result, we’ve chosen 1 pm as our pick up time.  We usually arrive at the Vodafone Kiosk at about 1:20.  The time awaiting our turn varies.  Yesterday, we waited in the queue for at least 15 minutes with only two customers ahead of us.

A fishing boat we’ve often noticed on the road to the village.

Even our turn at the kiosk takes a good 15 minutes when the lovely rep we’ve come to know works quickly to upload the data onto our SIM cards.  Yesterday, we added a total of 48 gigs between our two dongles at a cost of FJD $150, USD $69.40, enough to last another week.

We always purchase data using a promo she provides of 8 gigs for FJD $25, USD $11.57 which is available via a scratch off card.  She enters each scratched off PIN into her phone to activate it.  Yesterday, we purchased six cards.  We could easily purchase the cards, take them home and load the data ourselves.  But, she does is quickly so we wait.  By the time we walked away from the kiosk, it was pushing 2 pm.

Upon entering the Farmers Market, we noticed many vendors had already left for the day.  The pickings were slim but we managed to find everything on our list.  The good looking green beans were long gone.  We settled for what we could get, a single somewhat withered batch for FJD $2, USD $.93.

Finding cabbage and cukes was easy.  We lucked out finding six small bunches of lettuce at a total cost of FJD $9, USD $4.15.  As we headed toward the door, the egg man still had a dozen or so of the 2 1/2 dozen eggs flats. We purchased one flat at FJD $12.50, USD $5.77; fresh, free range and antibiotic free brown eggs, always perfect upon cracking.

Yesterday, this cruise ship we often see from our veranda arrived into port. Passengers were brought into the village via tenders.  Displays of handicrafts were scattered throughout the village to accommodate the ship’s passengers as they shopped for trinkets.
With our yellow insulated Costco beach bag filled to the brim, which on ccasion a few Americans have noticed along the way, we headed to New World Market.  Rasnesh informed us he’d be getting a call around 2 pm to transport another customer, another 40 minute round trip.  There was no way we could avoid waiting for him to return.  As we walked from the Farmers Market to the New World, we saw Helen walking quickly rushing to get back in time for us.  It was a long walk back to her store from the center of the village.  We’d called her earlier in the day saying we’d be there between 2 and 2:30 pm to pick up our standing order.  After the long wait at the kiosk later for Rasnesh, there was no way we’d make it in time.

Arriving at the New World Market we were excited to find they had thick fresh cream, sour cream and cheese ensuring we’d be able to make our salad dressing and various dishes planned throughout the week.  They even had fresh mushrooms but we’d recently had our fill and had decided to take a break.

This boat off the back of the ship was most likely taking passengers snorkeling.

As always, we called Rasnesh as we entered the checkout line only to discover he wouldn’t be back to the village another 40 minutes.  We could either wait outside in the heat or stay inside the market air conditioned comfort,  We found an out-of-the-way spot to wait with our trolley and our purchased and bagged items.

Rasnesh finally arrived apologizing for the wait.  Since he’s the only driver in town that can make it up the steep hill to Mario’s properties, we had no choice but to wait for him. Last week, he’d sent a friend to pick us up when he couldn’t make it back in time.  The drive up the hill was a difficult when the unfamiliar driver struggled with a front wheel drive vehicle. We didn’t complain, although deciding we’d never use a another driver again.Once we arrived at Helen’s, she casually mentioned how she’s rushed to get back by 2 for us.  We apologized profusely for being late when the delays at the kiosk and the 40 minute wait for Rasnesh left us behind schedule.  What could we do?  As regular customers spending around FJD $150, USD $69 each week, she’s always happy to see us regardless of the time.  She understood. 
Leftover fireworks from Diwali celebration were on sale at the market.

Back home by almost 4 pm, I spent the next few hours putting away the groceries and sorting and washing our produce.  In all, we spent a total of FJD $416, USD $192 for groceries plus the cost of the data.

Overall, we’ve spent no more than this amount on any given week, which for living on a island where all food products arrive by ferry, is reasonable.  We don’t purchase laundry products, most cleaning supplies (other than dish soap and toilet bowl cleaner) or toilet paper which are otherwise provided.  Based on expenditures to date we expect to be under our budgeted allowance for groceries while in Fiji by a few hundred dollars.

As compared to other shoppers throughout the world, we don’t purchase snacks, breads, baked goods, chips, ice cream, potatoes, rice or any type of packaged processed foods which cuts down on the grocery bill.

We were facing this candy display as we waited for Rasnesh.  Tom hasn’t purchased candy or junk food since he purchased fudge in Maui last year.

If we consumed those products, we could easily spend FJD $650, USD $300 per week.  Overall, prices are reasonable in Fiji but, we purchase some more expensive imported cheeses, butter and dairy products, mainly from New Zealand.

At 5:30 pm Junior stopped by to replace our only table lamp which had burned out the previous night.  We’ve used this lamp as opposed to the bright overhead lights when dining and watching our shows in the evening.

By 6:30 pm, we were at the table enjoying our meal of Helen’s roasted chicken, green beans, the last of the mushroom casserole, salad and a low carb homemade muffin slathered in that fabulous New Zealand butter.

A pretty yellow flower on the grounds.

As always, Tom did the dishes.  Unfortunate, a gecko fell into his hot dish water and died.  I scrubbed the table with hot soapy water and Tom washed the plastic placemats.  We’re still holding back on the ants.

In our old lives, I’d have jumped into the car leaving Tom behind driving a short distance to the grocery store.  I’d purchase food for the week, load the car and drive home.  In the house, the cable company provided all the data we could use and all the shows we wanted to watch on Demand or DVRs.  Our cellphone contracts provided calls and data as needed. 

There was no gecko poop in the house and ants rarely visited.  But, somehow we love this life, its nuances, its challenges and its never ending rewards and purpose.   Thanks to all of you for sharing this journey with us.


Photo from one year ago, November 13, 2014:

There were high surf warnings in Maui.  Not our photo but a good shot of an expert surfer.  For more details, please click here.

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