Sunday, June 28, 2009

Our first weekend here

It did get a little better, considering the 100% humidity and 90 degree temps. Besides the food, drink and hard sleeping floor, I guess it's not too bad. Saturday, we went to the edge of Betio and sat on the beach a while. The kids played in the sand and put their feet in the water. They found some crabs to chase and Laae dug up a few and put them in a hole together to make them fight. The boys really enjoyed this. Alas, we are in Kiribati so only 50 feet beyond that, some girls from across the road came over to do their business in the lagoon. Thankfully, the boys neither noticed nor made a deal over it. The boys also enjoyed their first Kiribati ice cream on this trip. That might have been a mistake because that's all they want now. Saturday night we had our first "fish and rice" dinner. Really, that's all. All the boys had diarrhea in the night, so we're laying off the fish a bit. Sunday morning we didn't make it out to church in time, but we drove around, showed the boys the church we will be going to, visited Conn's uncle whom he's named after, and visited a store. We didn't buy anything there. The rest of Sunday we hung around the house since Laae and Toamwane had to take the car. We did go for a walk around the village, just to get out of the house, and to show the boys where they live. We got some canned spaghetti for the kids (which they enjoyed). It was sunny all weekend, so my laundry finally dried.
This morning the kids and I went to Bairiki to the library. We were able to check out 3 books, but the pickings are slim. Finding great material to supplement what I brought will be tricky. I think James has already finished all 3 books! When we got to the library, we met a couple of Americans from Knoxville. They're leaving tomorrow, but they are supposed to be coming back. They're missionaries. We're all looking forward to knowing some other Americans here. Now, we're going to enjoy a fresh lobster lunch. Don't be too jealous... ok, it's really good so you can be jealous about that. :)
We're still trying to figure out how to get our pictures from the camera to the computer, so please be patient in that regard. We appreciate your prayers and we need all you can give for this to be a healthy, smooth visit for our family. We're looking forward to receiving snail mail, especially James.
God Bless! We love you all! Jennifer

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Welcome to Kiribati

We arrived in Kiribati around noontime on Thursday, June 25. Mama, Laae, Toamwane, and Melesiata were at the airport to greet us. It was very exciting to finally be here and see our family, although, I really forgot how stinking hot it is here! I wasn't across the tarmac at the airport and the sweat began dripping.
We have yet to get settled into our new home, and some of us are having some trouble adjusting, but the rain has stopped temporarily and I have had a shower. The coffee is on the way, and the boys have made a couple of friends and they found a movie to watch.
Hopefully now we will find food the boys will eat, something for us to drink, sunny weather so our laundry can dry, and space to arrange our things so we won't be in the way.
I'm looking forward to seeing the library, market, and recycling facility. We'll also look for the local school and church.
Parker really enjoys eating the papaya and bananas found here and Tanielu enjoyed the dried fish Conn brought home this morning.
Conn went and got some cabbage seedlings this morning. That will begin his garden.
Tanielu had a spell of wanting strawberries and North Carolina. He's doing better now playing with friends.

extra time in Fiji

Well, thanks to the careful attention of Air Pacific, they neglected to notify us that our flight time was changed from 7:30am as printed on our tickets to 3:30am. Therefore, we got to spend 2 more days in Fiji on the airline's tab. We stayed at Raffles, across the street from the airport and enjoyed sunny days, although not too hot. We decided to rest on Tuesday and enjoy the hotel amenities (pool, billiards, fish pond, yard to play in) and go to bed early. Wednesday we visited the Kula Eco Park. Here we saw Fiji's native plants and animals in a rainforest setting. It was really cool. The kids got to hold lizards, and we saw the Kula, Fiji's national bird. It was a nice day and a pleasant distraction from our delay in travel. We finally headed out Thursday morning to Kiribati, our final destination.
Our stay did have it's downfall... both James and I had our turn at the stomach sickness. We're all feeling better now.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Raining in Fiji

It has been raining here since Friday, and despite this, we are still having fun. The kids are loving playing with their cousins, we have enjoyed visiting our family, and we still are seeing the sights of Suva.
Yesterday was Conn's youngest sister, Fatimah's birthday. She turned 27. We enjoyed a special dinner to honor her. We ate lobster, chicken fried rice, lamb sausage and birthday cake. We went to the city center beforehand, to get Fatimah out of the house, and I got her a necklace with a mother of pearl pendant.
Saturday we went and visited more of Conn's family. These are the ones we stayed with on our last trip through Fiji 4 years ago. We got to see all of the children and the grandchildren. Each of us showed off our newest members. The kids made themselves right at home and had a great time. Tanielu got sick twice, but that really didn't slow him down much. He's doing much better now. Must have been the travelling bug.
This morning we went back into the city while everyone here went to school. We walked through the handicraft center (the kids got necklaces), then had McDonald's for lunch (the beloved cheeseburger!), then headed over to the Fiji Museum. It was quite interesting for me, but not so much for the kids.
We are now back home to enjoy our last few hours with this family before we set out around midnight to go back to the other side of this island to the airport. We fly at 7:30 Tuesday morning to Kiribati.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

ahh... Fiji me

from the fresh orchids in the airport restroom, to the "lovely ladies" waiting to help us find what we needed upon arrival, to the eager taximen, and the refreshing breeze and beautiful foliage of this tropical island, we are ready to be "Fiji-ed"!
We rented a car, grabbed a coffee, put our extra luggage that wouldn't fit in the car (and we thought we wouldn't need) in the storage room at the airport, loaded up the car and set off to the other side of the island to our family in Suva. We did make a stop for diaper change and ice cream (not realizing that it was only 9 in the morning, but it's a milk product, right?) and we made it to Suva around lunchtime. We're staying with Conn's older sister, Danietta and her family. The kids are loving spending time with their cousins and were bored stiff while the others were at school this morning. Now Conn, James and Tanielu have gone with Conn's brother-in-law, Katirite and the 3 boys of this family to the park to play for a while and run out their boredom. I get time on the internet after the power has been off all day, and Parker is playing with his auntie.

We're on our way!

This adventure starts out very similarly to one about 9 years ago when I set off for Kiribati for the first time in the Peace Corps: "I've packed my bags, repacked and repacked and repacked and still my bags are overweight." I also reminisce as I wonder "What have I gotten myself into this time?" Well, it turns out that our bags weighed in under our allotted amount and travelling to the other side of the world is not as bad as one might think. We came armed with bribes of gum and electronic devices and when all else might fail, we have the children's Benadryl and we're not afraid to use it!
It turns out that the first flight of only under an hour was a good thing so the kids could play with everything on the plane and be the curious children they are, and the surrounding passengers only had to put up with us for a short time. After dinner in the Charlotte airport and getting on the next flight to LA, we thought the kids would be tuckered out and bed down at their normal bedtime. We did not forsee them being seated so closely to two other children close to their ages and similar electronic devices to keep their conversations flowing. Needless to say, there was enough excitement to keep them up for the entire 5 hour flight. We collected ourselves upon arriving in LA, apologized to the old man sitting next to us, and went on our way to the international terminal and checking in with Air Pacific. We scarfed down our last bite of McDonald's hamburgers (note to parents: do not offer your children their first Big Mac at 11:30pm with only 15 minutes to eat it!), and proceeded through security and to the very end of the terminal to board our plane. We saw a couple of Kiribati folk that Conn knows and ended up sitting near one on the plane. We sat in the first row behind first class and had the extra leg room for the kids to move around in, and the bassinet for Parker to sleep in... both blessings. James and Tanielu were asleep before the plane left the terminal, and Parker was shortly after reaching our cruising altitude. No Benadryl needed, although Parker was close. We all got some sleep but not nearly what any of us needed. Everyone did great despite the circumstances. Parker started getting antsy about an hour before we landed, but we walked around the airplane a couple of times and he waved at the other passengers as they smiled and adored him. Upon our arrival, we took a smooth path through immigration and customs in Fiji. The customs official looked at our mountain of 9 checked bags and 5 carry ons, taller than I am, and asked "Is that all you have?" Good to hear a sense of humor at 5:30 in the morning.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Start up

Two days before leaving- does anyone have a bag?