I’ve become incredibly lazy. I wrote about a dozen different excuses for why I have written a total of two posts in the past four months (five now that I’m finishing this). Including, I don’t use my computer anymore and blogger doesn’t work on iPad, yet. (Seriously, what’s up with that?) I’ve been too busy with work. (As if). I felt guilty that I communicate more on here than I do out loud. (I’m really a very quiet person in real life if you can believe it). I’ve been suffering writer’s block. (Probably as a result of too many sandwiches killing all my brain cells). But the embarrassing truth of it is I’ve just gotten very lazy in my island lifestyle. Incredibly happy and lazy. I started writing this particular post nearly a month ago, and have been patting myself on the back ever since for finally getting some writing in. And then of course I realized, there goes another month with no posts! Nevertheless, I love this little blog too much to abandon it! So please don’t think for a minute that it is a thing of the past. 

Perhaps another excuse for why I haven’t written is that I write about my life. I write about my day-to-day experiences in the exciting places that I live. And I also try to write so as not to offend my current employers, should they for whatever reason google search me and find this blog and realize I’ve been bad-mouthing my annoying job. Welcome to my last six months. I really didn’t have a lot of positive things to say about the last position, so I avoided saying anything at all. Unfortunately, that job was my entire existence for those six months, so avoiding talking about it didn’t really leave me much to write about aside from how much I loved the zebra sharks. I did adore the zebra sharks. The zebra sharks were the only thing I adored about that place. And funnily enough, they were a big reason for why I gritted my teeth and didn’t hightail it out of there like I should have. 

But now that I have a wonderful new job that I adore, I can finally joke about all the things that made the last six months everything I plan to avoid in the future. Bad experiences are important so you can learn what you don’t want, right? I’m going to stick with that.

I hope you all can read this with a sense of humor and not like I am whining and complaining. For some reason as soon as I decide to write about anything that isn’t daisies and rainbows, I receive a slew of concerned emails. But daisies and rainbows aren’t always as entertaining as the storm that led to the shipwreck that led to getting stranded on the island where you found the rainbows and daisies, right? So here comes the story about the shipwreck. If you are getting concerned for my well-being, please click here and watch some funny cats instead.

Back in February, or maybe it was March, I can’t keep track of the time anymore, I’m on Fiji Time. But a little while back, Fletch decided to take me to Fiji to visit his friend Aaron. Aaron was running a little dive shop at a secluded little resort, and was on the last month of his work visa. When his boss heard that Fletch and I were coming for a visit and that we were both instructors, he asked if we wanted the job after Aaron. We both said, why not? There are worse places to get offered a job than Fiji. 

We didn’t really know anything about Fiji at the time. We assumed from previous experience that we would make enough to cover the cost of living, as is the standard in the dive industry. It turned out that $150 a week was definitely not enough to cover the cost of living. Not when we only got 50% off of the resort’s $40-$60 meals, our only day off was Sunday when everything was closed, and the nearest grocery store was a $14 roundtrip bus ticket away. Multiply that by two and there went one fifth of our income every week, just to go get groceries.

Our employees at the dive shop were two local Fijian boys from the village next door. The rest of the resort had long ago given up on hiring any people from that village because of their complete lack of work ethic. And you couldn’t really blame them. If you lived in a village that owned the land and owned the water rights and owned the fishing rights and farmed all your own food, and your only real expense was $5/month for electricity, would you have much motivation to show up for work everyday? Work was nothing more than their social hour. If they weren’t enjoying social time, they didn’t show up. The job should have been a complete joke it was so easy, except that when no one shows up to do their joke of a job, and you are left scrambling, trying to cover for yourself and two no-shows, and always trying to plan for the worst case scenario where no one shows up to work tomorrow either, the job becomes nothing but a constant source of stress. I had to stop scheduling anything on Monday mornings completely because no one was ever at work the morning after their day off. 

Unfortunately, even though Fletch and I were the bosses, we didn’t actually have any power to reprimand our employees, and when we approached our higher-ups over the matter, they really couldn’t be bothered. A few warning words would be given, which would put a damper on social fun time and ultimately worsen the situation.

Let’s call these two Maciu and Apenisa, because google says those are two common Fijian names. Maciu put in a steady 50% effort for work, and was always doing more work in trying to figure out if he could get out of his actual work, than it would have been to just do the work in the first place. Trying to find either one of them, let alone both at the same time, was like herding cats. They were constantly wandering around the resort grounds or just walking home for a leisurely mid-morning break. Neither of them ever answered or had any credit on their phones either. I would need something done, like have a few tanks brought up to the pool, wander around til I found one of them, usually Apenisa, tell him what needed to be done. Then after I walked off to go do the things I needed to do, Apenisa would pass off his job on Maciu, who would then wander around until he found me, to reconfirm that I had actually asked for tanks to be brought up to the pool. In the amount of time this process took, ten tanks could have been hauled up to the pool. In the end, it was less work to just do these things myself, then to try to find the person whose job it actually was, only to have them pass it on to the next person, and then long after the fact, have that person wandering around to find me to see if he actually had to do the job.

Apenisa was either 100% or 0% for effort. There would be weeks here and there where he would go above and beyond, because he was constantly in the process of trying to get a pay raise. Right at the point where I would be about to help him out and ask for his pay raise, he would just not show up to work and watch from behind a bush while Fletch and I scrambled to find a way to get everything done with just the two of us and no boat captain. Yes, that actually happened. 

Fletch and I were really just sharing one position. We went into the job knowing that there was only one position, and agreed with our boss that it would be ok to share it. So my name went on the work permit, and because of that, Fletch was constantly joking around that he didn’t even work there (even though he did more work than the two of our employees combined). Joking around turned out to be not the best idea in front of someone who is always looking for less work to do. Because of the tide swings, whenever it was low tide during diving hours, we would have to move the boat down the beach to deeper water, before the tide went out of course. One of these times, we knew we were going to have to move the boat for the next morning, and so Fletch told Maciu the night before to please move the boat. The next morning it wasn’t moved, as was often the case, and when Fletch confronted Maciu on the matter, he snapped and started yelling “You are not the boss of me! Lexi is the boss! I only answer to Lexi!” Keep in mind too that this is a very male-chauvinist society, where a month before, they had hardly been able to acknowledge me on behalf of me being a little white girl.

Another favorite story of mine was one that dragged out over several weeks. Maciu’s wife was pregnant, and so week after week he kept asking for the weekend off to go to the hospital in Suva two hours away, to pick up some form for her. Keep in mind that this is Fiji, where no one goes to the hospital for anything, especially not a birth. Women have their kids in the village. All dozen of them. And this was kid #4, so you would think she knew what she was doing by now. But week after week, Maciu had to go to Suva two hours away, for this form or that referral and finally to move his wife to a house closer to the hospital so that she would be close by when she went into labor. I kept giving him the time off, because I was just grateful that he was asking instead of merely not showing up to work. I preferred to know when he wasn’t going to be at work, because whether I gave him the time off of not, he wasn’t going to show, and if I said no, that just meant that next time he wouldn’t have the courtesy of asking. So I kept giving him day after day off. As the due date came and passed, I kept asking Maciu how his new baby was, and he would always say “Oh no, not here yet.” So I eventually gave up asking. It got to be a month after the fact tho, and I finally thought it would be safe to ask. I did ask, and immediately regretted it. The kid had been born, but Maciu had yet to actually see it. I didn’t ask what in the world he had been doing with all of his days off because his communication ability was about on par with a four-year old’s. Everyone was pretty sure he was seeing someone, and I really didn’t care to know. I already was frustrated enough with him by that point. There were a lot of things I just stopped asking.

We got one day off a week, Sunday, which was not only the day that everything in the city was closed, but was also the day that everyone seemed to check in to the resort. So reception was always bombarding us with a nonstop stream of phone calls on Sundays. For them to tell the guests that the dive shop would open on Monday at 7:30 AM, and to come talk to us then, just made too much sense. They had to call us on the spot with every question they were presented with, 24/7. After a while we just started ignoring these calls, but that would often make more work for us in trying to clean up all the misinformation that was doled out come Monday morning. People would show up angry that the price was higher than what reception had quoted them, or upset that a trip was full that reception had told them they could go on. The dive shop was a separate company from the resort, so the resort would give out the only information they knew, such as a Shark Dive trip leaving at 7:30 on Monday morning. But they would forget to mention that the trips filled up and needed to be booked well in advance, that people would need to show up earlier than 7:30 to try on gear and fill out paperwork. They'd forget to mention that the price listed didn't include rental equipment. Monday morning, people would show up as the boat was leaving at 7:30, wondering why they couldn’t go on their dive of a lifetime. There was always a ridiculous mess to clean up on Mondays, so in the end I defeatedly spent my Sundays off on the phone at all hours.

I promise this is the last complaint I have, although I’m sure I could come up with many. It rained on that little corner of coastline more days than not. If you are ever planning a nice, sunny, beach vacation to Fiji, avoid the Coral Coast of Viti Levu. It is a corner covered in thick, hilly, jungle, and for some reason, all the rainclouds congregate there and never go away. It would rain for a month straight, then clear up for maybe two or three days of bliss, then rain for another month. I come from a place where it is sunny 360 days out of the year. Even when it snows, it usually clears up and is sunny a few hours later. I don’t do well with no sun. 

Alright, I’ve vented out everything that needed to be vented out about those dreary six months. Now onto the the rainbows and daisies.

Fletch and I followed Aaron again, and this time it brought us to a desert island in the Mamanuca group where the sun shines everyday. Our room is included, three meals a day are included, we can take three days off every second week, or save them up to take off whenever we want. We both have our own job here. We even have a bar tab! Since everything is provided, our wages every week are just getting set aside. The food is really good for Fiji resort food. Most of the resorts just serve depressingly bland interpretations of what they think white people want to eat. But here the kitchen staff is creative and takes pride in their work. They are very accommodative to me being a pescetarian, and the last few weeks on burger day (Thursdays), they have been trying out different veggie burger recipes on me, for which I am ecstatically grateful. This is just a run-down little backpackers' place, but the guests from the nice resort next door all sneak over here come dinner time because our food is better, not to mention way cheaper. The vibe here is chill and friendly. The Fijian staff is wonderful and helpful, and way more intelligent than the employees with whom we could hardly converse with at the last place. Call it the honeymoon phase, but this place is what we wanted when we became dive instructors. No stress, just dive and relax in the sun. 

I have been here for almost two months now, (wow, I have still been telling people only a month, where does the time go?) Fletch and I joke around that we are getting paid to be on vacation. The vibe here is so chill and relaxed. All the guests love their stays here. Sometimes they ask for recommendations for other things to do in Fiji whilst they are traveling around, and I send them away to this place or that, but usually if I hear back from them, it is with the message that they miss this resort and this island, and that they wish they had just stayed here the whole time. 

If any of my friends have entertained thoughts of visiting me these past four years of traveling, now is a great time. I am at a backpacker place, so the price is affordable, there are things to do, it is a desert island, so the weather is lovely and sunny, and my days off are flexible so I can entertain to some extent. Fletch and I plan to stay here for a little while, we are that happy. So if you have ever entertained the thought of visiting Fiji, please come visit us! And if the flight is too long for you, then I will try my best to get back to writing on a regular basis so that you can experience Fiji vicariously through the blog.