Monday, May 07, 2007

More of our Fijian Adventure

More of our adventures in Fiji.

Jonathan's Forest home on top of the mountain.

All the trouble getting to Jonathan’s home was worth it when we were made so very welcome. His whole family had come to meet us, his dear old Mama a huge lady first threw her arms around me and drew us to her feather-bed softness, his older brother and wife, his older sister and husband, younger sister and baby, and his younger brother, Josephine; Jonathan’s young wife and two little children, plus several other young people that we are not sure exactly who they were, they were a lot to take in the near darkness. Hugs and kisses, handshakes and shy smiles all around, the warmest of welcomes and we were taken inside the home. Mama, Josephine, Theresa and older sister in the kitchen by the little kerosene cooker.
I shall try to describe Jonathan’s home, without meaning to be judgemental, or culturally insensitive, just so you will have some idea just how a real Fijian family lives.
Jonathan's forest home on top of the mountain.

Shoes must be taken off when entering a Fijian home; we left our wet shoes on the covered veranda with all the others and stepped on to several layers of warm dry coconut woven matting in the lounge. The lounge, would be about 15 feet x 20 feet quite spacious very clean neat and tidy and fairly empty, there was much to our surprise a colour TV and a DVD player at one end and a huge comfortable easy chair and a two seater settee at the other end, a bookcase with many books and even more precious things like huge sea shells and fancy gourds a pretty bowls, photographs and ornaments along one wall. The construction of the whole house, built on a concrete pad, is corrugated iron and wooden uprights, both roof and walls, mainly unlined as warmth is never needed, just waterproofing is required, but the family have put lots of beautiful pictures, tapa cloth and material to beautify the inside. At each end of the lounge there are small bedrooms, we were shown to one of the two, with a comfortable double bed at ground level, (Jonathan and Josephine’s and their two little children’s own bed it turned out), on the otherside of the lounge another long narrow room ran the whole width of the house, this was the dining room/kitchen, with very long (15 feet) low table about 8 inches high off the ground that you sit on the floor mats around. Along one wall was a cabinet with lots of pretty china mugs and plates, also utilitarian plastic ones and also huge containers of flour and sugar etc, on the floor at the end was a small kerosene burner and several saucepans with steamers, off from this room there is a small lean-to that is open on the sides to let out smoke, there is a waist high iron table where a fire was kept burning at all times, this was the kitchen stove and from here huge meals were beautifully cooked, including bread! I was amazed at this kitchen! There was no electricity in the house; but there was a small generator that supplied enough power to run the TV and one light in the dining room, no more, also there was no running water (all the water used was carried up from a pure mountain spring in 3litre plastic jars) so ofcause no hot water either or washing machine! Not even a kitchen sink, I didn’t inquire how all the dishes were washed or where.

Washroom shower cubical and toilet at the back. Cement bags and hoses still on ground.

The toilet was outside as was the washroom. Jonathan quickly showed us to outside flush toilet saying it was new. Just how new I didn’t realize till I said thanks just what I needed, and found a brand new roll of loo paper and a pristine toilet bowl sitting proudly on a small slab of concrete, the outside walls were plaited bamboo in the Fijian style with an iron roof. Apparently this construction had only just been finished before Jonathan left to meet us, so I was the first participant!
Close besides this building was the washroom also made of bamboo plaiting but roofless, with two huge barrels of fresh rainwater with dippers to scoop out and pour over your body. The floor was made of smooth river stones for drainage.
The brothers told us, that this was a middle class home; not the best quality but far and away from the worst, it was 4 years old and built by a carpenter not by themselves. We felt it was very comfortable in its own way – for a short time.

Veiw from the top of the mountain in of the Vatukoula Gold mine, which is in some way owner by Jonathan's family, not the actual goldmine but maybe the land it is on is owned by his whole extended family.