Abundance is in the eye of the beholder...

Ratnesh explained that before dark all the goats return to this abandoned house where they sleep at night. 
They say that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder."  In our lives, we find that "abundance is in the eye of the beholder" is a more befitting observation we've found as we travel the world, especially in the hearts and minds of the local people.  This has, without a doubt, rubbed off on us as we discover less and less becomes more and more appealing.
As we traveled along the road with Ratnesh he takes us to special places he knows we'll find appealing.  He's quickly learned what appeals to us, not the usual tourist spots but that which other tourists may find mundane and hardly photo worthy.

Cows munching on greenery along the road.
Our tastes are simple, often wrapped around the sightings that so well bespeak the lifestyle and work of the people of Fiji, a few cows grazing near the road; a flock of chickens wandering about with chicks in tow, rooster-dad watching for danger; a herd of goats, knowing exactly where to return as darkness falls.

Our minds wander to who these people are who's lives depend on these animals for sustenance, for income and for opportunity to live a life comparable to the unencumbered lives so many freely live here on this quiet island. 

These goats were on the shoulder of the road, free to roam.
Abundance is in the eye of the beholder.  Over these past years on the move, we, too, have filled our hearts with a sense of abundance that doesn't include flat screen TVs, DVRs, central air conditioning or closets filled with clothes.

We ask only for a clean, comfortable temporary home, working plumbing, power and blessed be...wifi, so we can share our story as it unfolds each day, in itself providing us with a sense of abundance with thoughts of how many citizens of the world have read our posts, some once, others over and over again.  For us, that's abundance.

Hopefully, motorists kept a watchful eye when driving passed them.
Is it well deserved?  Perhaps not, at times as we waft through the mundane of daily lives, without a single exciting adventure or photo to share.  And at other times, perhaps yes, when we have an exciting story we can't wait to spill, a jaw dropping experience we'd only imagined in our dreams.

I write this post on October 7th at 5:30 pm, rapidly stroking the keys, hoping to upload a few photos tonight, all for an early upload in the morning.  We don't choose to alter the consistency of our posting, when we've diligently exercised every effort to be timely each and every day, except at times on lengthy travel days.

There were several moms, kids and a few dominant males in the group, always watching for potential dangers.
Why prepare a post the evening before its expected upload date?  Today, Thursday, the wifi to the area will be shut down in order to bring in a new line to our house to ensure we'll have a viable connection during our remaining two months in Savusavu.  We appreciate this greatly, Mario's willingness to go to these lengths.

We've waited patiently for days.  I've read six books in the past five days, my speed reading ability learned decades ago, coming into play when I've been unable to be online, devouring page after page on the tiny screen on my phone. 

My fingers tire of "turning" the pages in the Kindle app long before my eyes tire of the printed words and at times, the stories are less than perfect, ranging from fluffy romance novels to gripping international intrigue and espionage.  My tastes are varied. Its the "page turner" aspect I hunger for, hopefully well written.  If not good after the first few pages, I permanently remove it from my phone. Garbage, I can't read.

They munched and began the easy climb up this hill to their "home" as shown above in the main photo.

With a US $10, FJD $21.52 monthly fee with Amazon, I can read up to 10 books at any given time, returning each as I finish to grab another in its place after it's returned online.  How have I managed to download these books with a bad connection? 

Magically, using the Vodaphone SIM on Tom's phone to connect to my phone which has worked for downloading books, although patience is of the utmost importance as I often wait as long as 20 minutes to download one book.

Hopefully, by late in the day, this waiting game will be over and we can go back to our usual lives of research, watching movies and ease of use, taking this month long focus on a bad signal well into oblivion.  If not, I don't know what we'll do. 

Hurriedly, I wrap things up now, knowing by 9:30 the tech is scheduled to arrive to begin the work.  As evident, he didn't arrive yesterday to upgrade the lines.  I called the phone company three times asking when a tech would arrive. 

This baby goat, no more than a few weeks old, was crying when it couldn't easily get down the hill to join the others.
Finally, Mario received a call from the phone company's tech guy asking him to pick up the tech guy in town to bring him here. The truck broke down and he had no transportation to make the appointment. 

I wonder how would he make the repairs today without his truck and equipment? But we shall see.  I'd like to be optimistic.  Surely, if and when this job is completed, a sense of abundance will once again prevail.

Will you find abundance in your life today?


Photo from one year ago today, October 8, 2014:

The sunset in Hawaii were always worth checking out each night as we walked to a restaurant for dinner.  We didn't cook any meals in the tiny condo, finding it too confining. For more details and a sunset video, please click here.

Patience prevailed on a challenging day!

Ratnesh stopped along the highway to show us this lily pond.
We realize all of our readers must be tired of hearing about our wifi issues. Hopefully, by the end of today, we're hoping to have working Internet.  Right now, as I've done over the past several days, I'm using "Internet sharing" off of the Vodaphone Fiji SIM card installed in Tom's phone in order to upload our posts.

The SIM card expires tomorrow and we still have 28 unused gigs we'll lose when the data is only usable for 30 days. The signal was too weak to use much of the 30 gigs we purchased when we arrived. Tomorrow, we'll "top off" the card with less data than the original purchase. 

Using wifi in this manner results in the slowest connection I've experience since 1991 when it took hours to connect to the Internet via a land line.  Yesterday, it took 30 minutes to load each of a few photos.

In late 1991, in the early Internet days, Tom and I each had a desktop computer.  We'd play one of the first games offered online, Netplay.  It took eight hours to download the game and it required a re-install many times when it would crash.  We'd leave the computers on all night attempting to re-install it, often finding it wasn't done in the morning.

On Monday, the phone company was supposed to come here to resolve our issues.  Their truck broke down.  Then they were scheduled again for Tuesday.  Alas, at 9 am yesterday, the power went out. There's no way the phone company could work on providing us service without power.

Badal stops by every night while we're having dinner.  We give him something good to eat, usually meat off of our plates. This photo was taken a few days ago when oddly he arrived earlier than usual, just before sunset, enabling me to take photo. 
We didn't realize the power had gone out until about 30 minutes later when we tried to turn on the overhead fan and it wouldn't start.  Checking a few outlets, we realized what had happened.  A short time later, Junior popped in to tell us the power would be out most of the day.  They were working on the lines.
Oh.  No power and no wifi.  That's makes for a fun filled day.  We though about calling Ratnesh for a day's outing but if the power returned, the phone company could arrive and we needed to be here.

Quickly, we dimmed the brightness settings on our laptops and phones to a point of being barely readable, checking how much time we had left on the batteries on each, planning our day accordingly, mixed amongst playing Gin, playing games, reading book on our laptops and phones. 

We couldn't open the refrigerator to start preparing the salad for dinner, not wanting any of the coolness to escape, although we did so a few times for iced tea and ice.

We began planning the evening should the power not return before dark.  We had a delicious leftover entrĂ©e we could easily heat in a pan on the stove with some side dishes already made to accompany. When the power was out a weeks ago Shalote had brought us candles and matches so we could easily light the gas stove to reheat the meal.  At 4 pm, I made my tea as usual, heating the water in a pot on the stove as opposed to using the electric teapot.

If we left enough juice in my computer we could watch one or two videos we'd saved from Graboid.  If we left enough juice on our phones we could read after dinner after watching the few videos.

At certain points, we discussed how the roads could have been anywhere in the world such as in this photo.
By 2 pm, we were almost out of juice, phones down to 20%, laptops not lagging far behind.  If the power didn't return it would be Gin only by candlelight, no books, no games, no mindless drivel.  My laptop and Tom's phone were nearly depleted of power from using his phone to prepare and upload the post which hogs data and energy.

Being together 24/7 doesn't leave us hours of idle chatter over the events of our day to share with one another.  Although, throughout the day, we somehow found ourselves chatting over endless topics we may not have discussed most recently.

At 4 pm, Junior stopped by again to let us know if the power returned before 4:30 the phone company would still come out to work on the signal.  Otherwise, they'd come out first thing today. 

Well, 4:30 came and went...no power.  At 5 pm, almost to the minute when the electric company employee's shift ends, the power returned.  We still had no wifi, other than the weak signal returning on Tom's phone as it began to recharge. 

We've learned to keep all of our electronics fully charged at all times for this very purpose.  Had we not done so, we'd have run out of juice much earlier and those hours of solitaire on our laptops, whiled the time away...sort of.

Beach view.  Seldom have we've seen people on the beaches.

We didn't complain to Mario or Junior.  We didn't complain to one another in an effort to keep each other's spirits up.  In these cases, its always comforting to know if the power will return before dark.  But, one never does.

This isn't comparable to living in one's home when the power is out at night.  We'd have gone down to the basement with an enormous flashlight, gathered our trusty Coleman battery and gas lanterns and been set for the night.  We'd even have had the opportunity to power up the generator we had for such occasions, returning the refrigerator to full operation along with many lights and other appliances.

During the day, we could have cleaned cupboards, rearranged dresser drawers and busied ourselves in certain household tasks.  In this life, we have no basement with lanterns or battery or gas operated devices to light the night.  We had no shelves to rearrange and we don't have a dresser with drawers, just a few shelves in a closet without hanging space. 

We had two tall skinny candles without candle holders and a book of matches.  We'd do the "melt some wax into a plate and set the candle into it" thing and we'd have light.

This is the life we've chosen.  And, sometimes, it's not convenient.  And sometimes, its annoying.  And yes, sometimes we do complain.  After all, simply because we've changed the roof over our heads, and the country in which we're living, we're still human and subject to frustrations, just like everyone else.
It was a beautiful day to be out.  Hopefully, tomorrow's outing will be equally sunny when today is overcast and windy.
We're still us and although we're more tolerant than in our old lives, our feathers do get ruffled from time to time.

So, while the power was out, I went on an ant killing rampage.  Using the remaining hot water and soap, I washed everything where I saw a single ant, the exterior of the refrigerator, the cabinet door fronts, the wood counter tops, the stove tops where they were marching in a straight line looking for a sloppy morsel I may have left behind. 

By 5 pm, on the nose, the power returned.  The fact that we still had no wifi was incidental at that point.  We'd be able to enjoy our evening, have a nice dinner, watch our two remaining shows, an episode of Shark Tank and another episode of season two of Scandal (without a good wifi signal we haven't been able to download movies and TV shows).

As always, Badal, Sewak's dog, arrived at our door at 6:30 for a bite to eat which we freely offered and, we had a lovely meal, smiling and giggling over the excitement of the returned power, being together and our good fortune, good health and a roof over our heads.

Today, we wait even more patiently for the phone company to fix our issues but for now with power, we're fine.  Funny how that works, isn't it?


Photo from one year ago, October 7, 2014:

Sunset photo we took standing on the shore of Waikiki Beach, one year ago.  For more details, please click here.

Differences of life in the islands...Are we as happy here as compared to Hawaii?

We stopped on a bridge for this photo.
How can it be that is has been one year ago that we arrived in Hawaii, precisely Waikiki Beach, where we stayed for 11 nights in a less than desirable condo?

After Waikiki we lived on three more islands in the Hawaiian chain over a period of almost eight months which seems so far behind us as now we live on yet another island, this time in Vanua Levu, Fiji enjoying its unique charms unlike Hawaii in innumerable ways.

The weather may be similar.  The tropical plants and flowers may be familiar and the ocean views still draw our eyes countless times a days.  But, its different...rugged...less populated...less modern.

Here in Fiji we find ourselves entrenched in the life of the locals, surrounded by their cultures, their lifestyles, their language, and grasping at snippets of what life may be life for them, as opposed to the life we lived in Hawaii.

Rock formations, tiny island, as shown on the beach at low tide.
In Hawaii, we rarely met a citizen of native Hawaiian descent.  The reality over these past centuries has been the immigration of people from Polynesian and Asian countries and other countries worldwide.  Hawaii became similar to the "melting pots" of many cultures in many big cities.

In addition, many have moved from the US mainland to live in Hawaii to escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life, only to discover that the island paradise, a traveler's dream of island living, has traffic, commotion, lines at the Walmart and Costco stores and the hassles one experience in many larger cities.

Yes, there are the quaint little shops, malls, and farmer's market but prices are set for the tourist trade that locals have no choice but to incorporate into their own bulging budgets.  Its expensive to live in Hawaii, more than we've seen anywhere in the world to date.

In essence, the "new" and continually growing population of Hawaii leaves a resident with many of the stresses they'd hope to leave behind.  However they have the opportunity to partake in the some of the most exquisite scenery to be found anywhere in the world that takes one's breath away on a daily basis. 

If that's enough to keep a "transplant" happy along with the friendly nature of others who have moved to Hawaii, then a wonderful life is to be had. The ideal weather, the flowers blooming year round, the excitement of erupting volcanoes and the availability of almost anything one could want or need, makes Hawaii an ideal home for many who've moved to its resounding shores.
In Fiji, its an entirely different scenario.  Most of the locals, as described in yesterday's post, have lived in the Fijian Islands for generations resulting in the majority of the population.

Also, like Mario, our landlord from Germany and his wife, Tatyana, many have traveled from foreign lands in hopes of living a more simple life but found themselves engaged in property ownership and management of vacation rentals when their ultimate desire to stay active and fulfilled overruled their desire for the "simple life."

But, life isn't so simple in Fiji, certainly not on this more remote second largest island and especially so for the new resident used to abundance and availability in their homeland. 

New photo of the Blue Lagoon. 
There isn't a fast food restaurant or big box type store to be found. If I needed to buy a mascara, I'd be hard pressed to find any brand other than Maybelline with only one or two since discontinued options.

We scoured every one of the tiny markets, housewares and hardware stores in the village hoping to find parchment paper and the egg turner.  Fijian people don't use parchment paper for baking.  They grease the pan and then scrub, scrub, scrub to get it clean, exactly what we're now doing.

The streets in Hawaii were filled with newer cars, imported or purchased locally.  In Fiji, the vehicles on the roads are mostly trucks, mostly older, mostly four wheel drive to accommodate the rough roads, steep inclines and muddy driveways in rainy weather.

Oddly, we observed many homeless people living on the beaches and on the streets in Hawaii.  We haven't seen one here.

Oh, I could go on and on.  But, why compare any further?  I only do so to compare the differences we're experiencing as world travelers sharing our ongoing story having spent eight months in the Hawaiian Islands and now with a total of four months in the Fijian Islands.  

Now as time has quickly passed, we're down to three months, two more in Vanua Levu and one month upcoming in the mainland of Viti Levu.  We'll be boarding Celebrity Solstice on January 5, 2016.

Viewing spot for Namale Resort guests at the edge of this unusual rock formation.  More on Namale soon.
Were we happier in Hawaii than we are in Fiji?  Socially, yes.  Thanks to friend Richard, we became engaged in a large circle of friends, either from the US mainland or other cities of major populace.  Everything we could possibly need was at our fingertips. 

Although it was a glorious experience living in, particularly Kauai (for four months), there's something about Fiji that extends the sense of our desired world travel adventure. 

We assume it lies in the simplicity, the slow pace (even including the  fact that the phone company didn't show yesterday to fix the signal), the charm of the local people, and the scratching to find what we need or want.

We learn when we struggle, not when life is easy and good.  When we recall the experiences in our travels, only two years ago, that stick with us the most, it was when we were batting off the flies and mosquitoes, sleeping inside mosquito netting with only a slow moving overhead fan to cool us in the heat and humidity that lingers at night.   

We easily recall that for three months we lived without a salon or living room, spending  16 hours a day outside on the veranda without screens, never without shoes on our feet, as poisonous insects crunched under our feet as we walked in the dark. We recall taking our shoes into the bed in case we had to go to the bathroom during the night. 

What did we learn in those scenarios?  Possibly, the greatest lessons we've ever learned in our lives; that we can change, we can adapt, that we can accept and we can live "without."

Now, the only thing missing is our ability to easily share this story with our readers of our ongoing personal growth and exploration, is a good wifi signal.  Its definitely available here in Savusavu.  Its just not available to us right now.  Hopefully, a resolution will be coming today. 

Once that's resolved, we can sit back and truly relax, embracing that which is before us in its simplest forms; that our hearts and minds have became full with the reality that perhaps life isn't meant to be so complicated.

The power's been out for the past hour, which is expected to be down most of the day.  Life in Fiji...

Photo from one year ago today, October 6, 2014:

Its hard for us to believe it was a year ago that we spent 11 days in Waikiki Beach, this view of the beach from our veranda .  For more details, please click here.

Life for Fijian people...Generations of ethics and values...Blue Lagoon photos!

This morning Mario and I went to the village to meet with the phone/internet company.  Mario knows them well and they've promised to come today is coming to resolve our  connectivity issues, whatever it takes.  Once this is resolved, we'll be able to post more photos each day.  We apologize for the inconvenience and are exciting to be working well once again.

Seeing Vanua's Levu Blue Lagoon was pure pleasure.  The color was breathtaking.
Its only been almost a month since we arrived in Fiji.  During this period, we've had numerous opportunities to speak with many native Fijians, with an ancestral history reaching back hundreds of years, many of whom were bound by a life of slavery and poverty.

These ancestral roots coupled with newfound freedom from slavery during only the past 45 years bespeaks the demeanor and ethics of a nation of people.  Although only witnessed by us on this quieter of the two main islands for this short period, we only reference that which we learned here in this sleepy little village of Savusavu on the island of Vanua Levu.

It was two years ago, almost to the date, that we spent a day in the Maasai village, gleaning every morsel we could gather on their simple lives, their dignity and honor and their traditions so foreign in our own naivety.

That's not to say there's a direct comparison to the Maasai and the people of Fiji.  The only correlation I can make is the fact that they maintain a degree of integrity and work ethic befitting their culture and lifestyle, leaving no one in the lurch to falter without dedication and without commitment in upholding their honorable heritage.

The people of Fiji embrace a life of simplicity only enhanced by use of technology necessary to fulfill work obligations via use of cell phones and now computers, not necessarily affordable in their homes but available at certain locations throughout the village; for managing their businesses and to maintain contact with loved ones from afar.

The Blue Lagoon is a popular spot for tourists to visit for sunbathing and swimming but we only saw one person near the water's edge.
The only Fijians who don't work are those with a severely disabled and/or the elderly who are unable to care for themselves.  In those cases, the family members and friends provide for one another. 

When speaking to Fijians we find that everyone is "related" often referred at as an "aunt" or "uncle" or "grandma" or "grandpa" or other relations.  Perhaps, in essence, particularly on this small island, they are related and if not, they give  one another the respect in referring to their friends and neighbors as a relatives of one sort or another.  They all look out for one another. 

They explained that the government doesn't provide assistance for those who can't find work.  They explain saying, "Everyone in Fiji works.  We provide for ourselves.  If they can't find a job, they make a job...go fish in the sea and sell the fish at the market...someone will buy...grow a garden and sell the plentiful fruits and easily grown vegetables in the Farmer's Market...sell coconuts, free and plentiful for the picking...farm chickens  and goats." 

Peer pressure, moral and spiritual views, strong in Fijians, prevent them from expecting handouts and we see no begging on the streets, no pressure from vendors on the streets as tourists wander about the village.

If a neighbor or friend is without food or shelter, others will come to their aid, offering immediate sustenance and shelter and mostly, offers for opportunities to work for a friend or relative.  Ah, would that the world we be this way... helping one another...nudging one another to seek love, to seek work and to live the best life possible.

The tourist trade on this island of Vanua Levu is subtle.  As we walk in the village,  it appears that 90% of the people are locals. However, these locals along with the remaining 10% tourists are also consumers of products and services.  They serve one another.  They serve us.  With kindness and generosity.

We asked the question, "When you go home from work at night, what do you do?"  They answer, "We have no computer or television. After we cook and have a meal together, we do our work in our home to be clean and then spend time together in prayer, reading, playing a game and talking about our day.  That is our life.  We are a happy people.  We don't think of bad things and worry."

Families stay together, all family members sharing in their age appropriate roles to support the family.  Many families include five or six children.  They stay close and connected into adulthood and beyond.

Its not an easy life.  But, if a life is lived without worry or stress, filled with love and exercising a sense of responsibility and dedication to attain the best quality of life, happiness and joy is a natural response.

In one of my favorite books, "The Road Less Traveled" by M. Scott Peck, the author espouses, that "love" and "work" are secrets to true fulfillment in life;  loving one another and a higher power to give us strength and meaning; finding value and purpose in our work, as quoted from the book:

“Until you value yourself, you won't value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.”

“Love is the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth... Love is as love does. Love is an act of will -- namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love

To the extent that the Fijian people have embraced in their own knowledge and values, who they are as a people, who they've become in this day and age and who they will be in future generations, we remain in awe.


Photo from one year ago today, October 5, 2014:
Due to the poor wifi signal we aren't able to bring up the year ago photo and link.  As stated above:  This afternoon, a technician from the phone/Internet provider is coming out to make repairs in our house.  Hopefully, we'll be fully operational by tomorrow's post.  We apologize for the inconvenience.

Most perfect day yet...minus one amenity...

Ratnesh showing us the rock formation by the sea.
We awoke this morning to both of our phones displaying a time of 7:30 am.  When we got up and checked our computers, the time showed 6:30 am.  For the first time since we arrived almost one month ago, it is by far the most clear day we've seen to date and yet when looking outside it appeared to be 7:30, not 6:30.

Soon, we discovered, the Internet wasn't working most likely having a bearing on the clocks on our phones, with the laptops "remembering" the times we'd previously set. I suppose that makes sense.
This morning's view across the bay.
A few days ago Junior brought us a single chaise lounge which we'll take turns using, and now at almost 9 am, I'm hoping that after I wrap up today's post, the sun will still be out and available in the corner of the veranda where I'll sit to soak up a much needed dose of vitamin D, long since ignored and forgotten over all of these rainy days.

We drove into an area by the beach with a massive rock formation.
This house is situated on a huge U-shaped bay.  Right now I need only pick up my head to see the other side of the bay as shown in this photo I took a few minutes ago.  What a view! At some point soon, we expect simultaneous sunny days and working wifi enabling us to sit outdoors facing the ocean while posting.

We found coral in the tiny pool of water.
How am I writing now when the Internet is down?  I'm hooked up to the weak signal from the SIM card on Tom's phone. Our position on this mountain prevents a clear signal.   However, Blogger doesn't require a strong signal to open a draft page when no photos are involved.  The writing part is doable on its own.  

The bubbles around the coral led us to believe it is alive.
Although our photos are small files they require a certain amount of bandwidth to upload to the Internet. Right now, using Tom's SIM, I can only upload one photo at a time, requiring no less than 10 minutes each to complete.

Its interesting how plants and trees grow from rocks and continue to thrive.
What I have done is post one photo at a time while keeping busying busy preparing tonight's meal in short spurts in between the uploads.  Sitting and watching a slow upload is comparable to watching paint dry.

As Ratnesh held this shell in his hand, the creature therein began to emerge.
At the moment, Mario (Junior is off today) is attempting to resolve the problem by re-establishing a connection to the router in our house which requires numerous settings he updates on his phone.  We feel badly having to take his time but, we can't be online without this device working properly.  Otherwise, we're sharing the connection with all of the other renters in the other building.

When the signal in out for the area, there's nothing that can be done but wait until it returns whenever that may be.  In the interim, being able to post with this weak signal from Tom's phone will alleviate some of our concern over getting something posted.

Ratnesh pointed to small shrimp, crustaceans and a variety of sea creatures living in tiny shells.
We often think of our most avid readers who explain they enjoy that cup or coffee, tea or glass of wine when they sit down to check out what's going on in our part of the world on yet another day. Although we may not have anything of great interest to share on a particular day, we feel compelled to post something with a few new photos.

A water hole in the rock formation with coral.
I know how disappointed I feel when finding a favorite blog hasn't posted  anything recently.  We're all creatures of habit to some degree and consistency often provides us with a sense of comfort.  Well, whether we have interesting news our not, we definitely fall into the consistency category of blog writers.

We have many more new photos to post but couldn't resist sharing a few of this morning's clear day photos of our views.
For tomorrow, hopefully back online with a full signal, we'll have a post about the lifestyles and routines of the locals.  We've interviewed several local citizens from generations of history on this small island of Vanua Levu. 

What they've shared with us is both interesting and awe inspiring.  Please check back tomorrow for the story and many more new photos.

Photo from one year ago today, October 4, 2014:

When our ship docked in Hilo, we took a taxi for a tour of the city which included a stop at this same park we'd visited on another occasion when our kids came to visit months later.  For details of that date, please click here.