Friday, April 27, 2012

Fiji after the flood

Some people leave a lot of sadness footprint on this earth, we try to balance it out by leaving a lot of happiness footprint.... with our prints

A few months ago we booked a trip to Fiji to go scuba diving and enjoy a relaxing week of vacation in the sun and I had tried to contact our hotel to take "WhenKidsGrowUp" to some of the local schools in Fiji but didn't really get any response.

However, a week before our departure a storm passed through Fiji and flooded the villages and streets of the Island. We weren't sure if we would still be able to go but a few days later our travel agent contacted us to tell us that all the roads had been cleared and everything was back to normal.... at least at the resort we were going to stay at.

The weather did not get that much better and we enjoyed tropical rain every day of the week during our stay so we did not get to dive as much as we would have liked but we did end up visiting the Island and meeting some of the kindest people in the world. Roads were damaged, beaches were still dirty from the storm and Fiji did not quite look like the postcards my friends had mailed me in the past.

One rainy morning we decided to hire a cab for the day and visit a traditional village on the island. We grabbed the few costumes we had brought on the trip, the printer, and a few bottles of water and headed out. After what seemed to be a long drive the cab driver dropped us off in front of a small store to buy a bag of Kava (A local drink) to bring to the village as a gift which is a traditional thing to do. Kava is made from a local root that they crush into powder and mix with water.

After another long drive, we arrived in the village where tourists were welcomed by their spoke person. We thought we were going to get a private tour when just seconds later, a giant bus filled with tourists pulled up and unloaded its group of curious Australians.

We ended up visiting the village with the group and, even though most of the villagers' houses had been damaged during the flood they all welcomed us and were smiling as if nothing had happened. Kids were running around playing in the mud with wooden sticks and broken toys and old family pictures were drying out in the sun. We could see some of the household items that were damaged by the water and the spokeperson told us that some of the families had to move in the chief's house because it was the only house that had been safe from the flood since it is located at the top of the hill.

At the end of the tour we had the opportunity to take part in a Kava ceremony where the chief made a giant bowl of Kava to welcome us in their community and we all drank from it. It has a very particular taste and leaves your mouth numb for a while. After the locals performed their traditional dance we all joined in and danced together for a few minutes. Once the ceremony was over we were invited to take a look at their handcraft and buy a souvenir. While the group of tourists gazed at the displays I started printing a few photos I took during the ceremony to thank them for having us. I handed the first prints to the elder people in their community and everyone was pleased with their print and they all wanted to pose for the camera.

Once the herd of Australians left the village we took the costumes out of our backpack and put the printer to work. We didn't have as many choices as usual since we hadn't brought our entire collection of costumes but the kids had a lot of fun picking their career and we ended up leaving the few toys we had with them. At first they were a little shy and understandably curious and somewhat fearful but they quickly warmed up to us and it became a fun activity for everyone in the village.

It was a good thing I had a few memory cards on me which sped up the process. I could take a few pictures and put the memory card in the printer while taking pictures with another memory card. Everyone was impressed by the quality of the prints and looking at the images coming out of the printer becomes a bonding experience where we get to actually talk to the villagers and get to know them better.

The grown-ups probably had even more fun than the kids this time around and I apparently put my foot in my mouth yet once again when I mockingly told the Chief that we had to re take the group picture because he was the only one not looking at the camera... I hadn't realized he was the chief!

We were happy to be able to give new prints to the families who had just lost everything they had during this natural disaster and be able to leave our footprint on the island.

1 comment:

  1. In your labels you forgot the words love and smile. I feel them in your pic.