Sunday, April 25, 2010

Same same but different

Every story I've heard that references that phrase "Same same, but different" or something like it originates in South Asia. For instance a friend of mine at school was visiting India with her sister and had several people pointed at them while repeating it, remarking on how much they looked alike. Quite an apt expression to describe the past few days. While I've never been to the South Pacific before the nerve testing trip over has already prepared me somewhat for returning to island speed, african speed or the often siesta loving speed of Latin America.

I left LA on the evening of the 24th and had the fabulous luck of being bumped up to business class, literally seat 1A with an empty seat next to me.  After my complementary glass of champagne, I picked the udon noodles with asian vegetables and tofu for dinner. Not the hard life in the least. I even managed to get some sleep on the flight which has literally never happened before.

My flight was meant to land at 5am local time on Monday the 26th (we crossed the date line), so at 3 or so the entire plane is woken up to have breakfast. After we're through with out muffins and yogurt and fresh fruit and blueberry french toast with strawberry sauce (!!!) the captain came on the overhead speaker. There was a plane blocking the runway in Nadi, Fiji, so we couldn't land. Rather than circle we were headed to Samoa to refuel and wait it out. I forgot my watch so I wasn't totally aware of the time, but relatively soon afterwards we were on the ground in beautiful Samoa.

But wait. Whoever came up with this plan may have forgotten that you cross back over the dateline to get to Samoa. That means it is early Sunday morning here and the airport is literally abandoned because everyone is sleeping or in church... An hour passes... the captain announces that the person who is in charge of the airport has been located and will be here to help us refuel, and maybe we'll even get to get off the plane. But he won't be here for an hour.  A few people slowly trickle into the airport, donning fluorescent vests. Someone in my row on the other side of plane asks what's happening outside. I look out and everyone who showed up is enjoying a glass of juice. Seriously. Not that I'm against juice drinking. But everyone was getting antsy. The runway had been cleared in Nadi almost as soon as we'd landed in Samoa, but we couldn't get anywhere without more fuel. About 3 hours later we had fuel and were on our way.

Little did I know we'd flown 1.5 hours out of our way to get to Samoa. We were supposed to land at 5am or so, my flight to Suva, Fiji was at 7:30.  We landed in Nadi past 2pm. Oi vey. But luckily everything went smoothly from there. I sat for a couple hours waiting for my rebooked flight, made the 1/2 hour trip with no trouble and have arrived safely at my lovely hotel. I'm now trying not to fall asleep and looking forward to meeting the gentleman I'll be conducting research with. My first taste of Fijian cuisine will be tonight courtesy of my guesthouse which is exciting. Beyond that I'm excited to get to work (and more than just a little happy to be far away from the snowstorm meant to begin tomorrow in Truckee).

Take care and more updates to come!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

here and there

Lately I've started reading blogs that are rather uncharacteristic for me... they're full of lovely pictures and places and things and are posted merely because they're beautiful. I see the value in recognizing beauty everywhere and taking it in. Over the past few months I've had what some people would consider a lifetime of experiences to look back on when I'm frustrated, to remind me to be calm. Above is an open highway in a part of Nevada that could only be described as deserted and serene. I'm imagining I'm there, I'm breathing deeply.

But what I really want to do is fly to Australia/the South Pacific and wreak some havoc. I heard yesterday that I'm supposed to fly to the South Pacific on Saturday.  I'm the research assistant on a project in Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu and we have been negotiating contracts since at least February.  After having team members resign several times I was committed to the project falling through or at the very least starting several weeks later. Imagine my surprise when I got an email asking me to confirm my ticket leaving in 5 days.  But as frustrating as the contract negotiations were, over the past day I've gotten more confused emails about tickets and arrivals and when and where we're going than I can imagine. No wonder people question the functionality of nonprofit organizations.

Anyhow, I'm calmer now, it looks like I'm really going, I've dug out my umbrella and found my bugspray which I hear are essential.  I'm hypothetically going to be gone from April 24 - May 21, then heading back from June 14-June 30. But as I've seen any of this could change. But the good news is that it's a really exciting project and it's the first non-programmatic research I've done. Research for the sake of research and learning more about what's happening. For everyone who has been following my blog for a while, it addresses some of the questions I brought up when visiting orphanages in Indonesia. More details to come.

I imagine this newfound patience will come in handy in the South Pacific, as I've heard things move very slowly. But then again, everywhere I go, people warn me it moves too slowly; but perhaps if everywhere is different from here, then we're going too fast, rather than the other way around? Back to my snowy Sierra town for now, and happy spring to everyone who lives somewhere with flowers! (Below is from Point Reyes National Seashore)