I'm usually a very sound sleeper. Nothing wakes me up. Nothing. Last night though, I felt the grunge every time I rolled over, the grunge from not having showered in three days and from sleeping on sheets that hadn't been washed in a month at least. I'm not a dirty person. My living conditions have just gotten a little too 'third world' for even my comfort level.

In February, Fletch and I accepted a job running a little dive shop at a very secluded resort. We knew the pay wasn't great, but we were in it for the resume builder. 'Dive Shop Manager' does look lovely on a resume in this industry.

The job included accommodation. A row of six apartments sitting at the top of the hill for staff to use and we are the very last one. It is a humble little place, just a bedroom and a bathroom. The walls used to be sterile white, but now are decorated with mud that no one ever bothered washing off over the years and so now it is permanent. Living in a nice place is one of those things you sacrifice when you live the life of a never-ending vacation. The view from the top of the hill is breathtaking.

View of Somosomo Bay, Coral Coast, Fiji.

111 steps, all uneven bits of concrete slabs, make up the pathway that leads to the hilltop. Running up and down those at least three times a day will get you in shape. It's actually really nice having my own built-in gym. I haven't even thought about working out in months, because I'm constantly moving between the scuba diving and running up and down the hill all day long. In all honesty, I'll be happy to gain a few pounds after leaving here.

My commute to work in the mornings. 

This job is the best diet plan ever. The resort is at the end of a 4km-long, windy, bumpy, dirt road that leads to the main road. Once you make it to the main road, it's an hour bus ride to the nearest city. Since I only get one day off a week, and getting into town is such a process, grocery shopping happens once a week. We bring the big, backpacking packs and load them up with food, then haul it all back on the bus. I don't make enough to rely on resort food. Even at 50% off for me, the prices are too steep to afford more than one meal a day on the $150/week salary. And that would be if I wanted to spend 100% of my paycheck on food. (Don't worry, we're by no means starving, Fletch still has his income, but we just wanted to see if it was possible to live on the salary here. It's not).

Apartment 86.

I'm pretty sure the apartments are cursed. I've lost track of how many people have been in and out of them since we moved in six months ago. An Indian family lives in the first one, and they have been here for several years, but the four apartments in between us have had people moving in and out as if they were just more hotel rooms. Sometimes they crowd three people into a room, three complete strangers all sharing a bed. That's probably why the majority of them leave. A lot of them get fired.

The water situation is a headache. Our six apartments all share a 500 liter tank, for which the water has to be pumped up from the resort. When the water runs out, which happens at least once a day, someone has to call the handyman to come refill it. The second month we lived here, the Indian family in the first room went on a nice holiday to Singapore. That entire month the water didn't run out once. As soon as they came back though, we were back to refilling the water tank every day. I have no idea what they do over there to use so much water. Maybe they have an indoor kiddie pool that they refill everyday.

Two nights ago I was waiting for the water to come back on so that I could cook dinner. It had been out all day. At 7 PM it finally came back and I set about using the last of the vegetables in the fridge, a nice red bell pepper and a pint of mushrooms, to make stir fry. Of course it wasn't until I had added water to everything that I noticed it was coming out of the tap in an awful shade of muddy yellow. So there went dinner. I called the handyman and he said the water pump had broken and he would fix it tomorrow. Yesterday he said again that he would fix it tomorrow. Today he said again that it should be normal tomorrow. That is why I hadn't showered in three days. I finally marched down to the resort in my pajamas today to beg for a shower in one of the empty rooms.

The sheets are another matter. Laundry not only has to be timed with when there is water, but with when there is sun to dry it on the line. The last month it has been raining non stop. It has been wintertime here, and granted I am still in the tropics, but Fiji is the coldest place I have been in a long time. It's not even Fiji, it's this little spot of Fiji. There seems to be a permanent cold front with a rain cloud just sitting over this little bit of coast. The days we go north an hour to Sigatoka, the weather is absolutely fine there. The days we go east two hours to Suva, the weather is sunny there. As soon as we make it back to this little corner of the Coral Coast, it is cold and windy and rainy.

Yesterday was the first day in a month that the coconut oil has been liquid. It solidifies below 21 degrees celsius. That is my temperature gauge. 

I like living a minimalist life. There's a little tinge of pride in the back of my mind as I learn to live with less and less. Sunshine is a must for me though. I don't do well with day after day after day of rain. And the muddy water in the tap recently has set me on edge. Just because I choose to live a basic life doesn't mean I should have to go without clean water. I'm not in a little village in Ghana anymore. I shouldn't have to hike down my 111 steps with a bag full of water bottles to go steal water from the resort.

I know what you're thinking, Lexi why don't you just leave? I wanted to. Fletch wanted to. We both talked about it on numerous different occasions. We both set ultimatums for ourselves, if such and such happens, we're gone. Fletch finally did leave. Just because the timing of finding a new job worked out that way. I couldn't bring myself to abandon ship though. My name is on the work contract and I've never quit anything before. I had to see it through, especially since it's only six months, and this year has been flying by at double speed.

Fletch is up on Mana Island now, where the sun is always shining. We've been searching for two jobs in the same shop for quite some while now, and finally found two with almost perfect timing. His started a little bit before mine, requiring him to leave. He took a divemaster job up there, and they have another instructor leaving in a month whose position I will hopefully be able to take. The timing is optimal for me to finish up the last weeks left here, take a quick trip home, and then join him on Mana Island. He asks me every day to join him, and it is highly tempting. But I've made it this far. I can't bail with three weeks to go.