So this post is a long time coming. There was not much to report after returning from New Zealand. Other than cyclone Thomas that spared most of Fiji and my mysterious sickness. The first half of March was pretty uneventful.
Update on the sickness: I am pretty sure my respiratory issues were caused by a food allergy. I have now been on a restricted diet for two weeks (of six total). I cannot eat wheat, dairy, meat, sugar or salt. I have been devouring beans, nuts, fruits and veggies. Thank goodness it is avocado season! The diet is not as restrictive as it sounds and the best part is that I feel much better. I have a family history of wheat allergies so I am pretty sure that wheat is the culprit.
Now onto more interesting news. At the end of March John and I traveled to Leleuvia Island off the Eastern coast of Viti Levu. Since our last trip to Leleuvia management has let things go a bit. The food was not as good as I remembered (could have been the diet) and the dorms seemed run down. The weather did not want to cooperate either, it rained every day. We still had a great time though. Four of the Suva volunteers joined us on Saturday. Mid-morning on Saturday we went for a SWEET dive and saw 12 sharks, 3 turtles, a Napoleon Wrasse, and beautiful Gargonian Fans. It was one of my favorite dives in Fiji. The dive totally made up for what the resort lacked. The snorkeling is also great just off the beach. John saw a bunch of Eagle Rays and some huge fish while snorkeling. We are planning to return to Leleuvia in May to complete our Advanced Diver Certification.
I have started a Dance/Jazzercise/Tae Bo/Yoga fusion class with the women in the village. Last night was the first class and it was a big hit. There were about 15 - 20 women and girls in attendance (even my Bubu came!). By the end of class everyone was sweaty and happy...yay for endorphins! I used my American Heart Association donated pedometers so the women could count their steps and figure out how many calories then spent (roughly). Before each class I present five foods and their nutritional content so that the women can also see how many calories they consume.
Yesterday was a busy day. In addition to dance fusion, I also went to Lautoka with my counterpart from the Business Incubation Center to pick up our beekeeping training equipment from customs. To our disappointment we were not able to pick up the equipment. Turns out there is a TON of paperwork you have to fill out in order to clear $4,000 FJD in goods from customs. Peace Corps is currently helping me process that paperwork so I don't have to pay import duties. We should receive the equipment by next week. This is perfect timing as we start the final round of beekeeping trainings on April 19th.
Finally, our village has an "official" marine tabu (MPA). It took a year-and-a-half to get to this point but it finally happened. We had a bose va koro (village meeting) on Tuesday and the tabu was voted in unanimously. John is excited to bring out FLEMA and the Ministry of Fisheries to train the village. Hopefully the UNDP grant will also come through to help with the tabu. John is crossing his fingers on that one.
Next week is our Close of Service Conference (COS) in Pacific Harbor. All of the FRE 6 volunteers will be there. I am really looking forward to seeing everyone. We are planning some fun, after session activities including the Rubrics Cube game and Pirate dress up.