Okay, we've been here six weeks now. We're fully on "Fiji Time." We're still what the Fijians call "kavalagis" (Europeans, whiteys) but we’ve learned a lot from the Fijians about how to get along with less. We’ve also figured out how to get most of the stuff we really need to get along happily with two picky eaters. In retrospect though, we would’ve packed a little differently for this trip.
Here are some notes….
Glad We Brought ‘Em
Here are some items we were very smart to bring to Fiji…..
- Computers – We splurged and got two new Mac Books for our trip. We figured we’d be fighting over one computer and Ben’s old lap top was starting to fail. We have been very happy with our decision. The Internet is our lifeline – keeping us connected to family, friends and news from home and providing us with much information for home school. We’ve gotten much better at surviving without it, as our recent Internet-less trip to Taveuni would suggest.
- Kindle – Another electronic savior. We’ve subscribed to the NY Times and the Seattle Times so we can stay up with the news and sports scores. We’ve also been able to download books that all can enjoy for quite cheap. (We’ve been doing a LOT of reading down here.)
- Cameras – Ben and the kids had a terrific time documenting the trip with their respective cameras. These shots will become all the more valuable to us over time. They will also make great gifts for our friends and family – both far and near.
- Backpacks – Our Osprey packs have been great. They were all we needed for our recent trip to Taveuni. They’re also great on grocery runs to Savusavu.
- Clothes – It turns out we did a pretty good job with clothing choices. T-shirts and shorts, bathing suits and rash shirts and a “dress up” outfit or two have been all that we’ve needed. We’ll look pretty silly when we first arrive in Melbourne in mid-January but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
- Pack Towels – We brought two. They’re great for picnic and backpack trips.
- Water filter – We brought a water filter and filtered our water until just recently when we ran out of batteries. It’s nice to know we have it if we need it.
- Coffee and Stove Top Espresso Maker – Need I say more?
- Chocolate – See above.
- School Supplies – Mechanical pencils with plenty of lead, erasers and a good set of colored pencils have been very nice to have.
- Never underestimate the usefulness of a good repair kit!
- Torches – We call them flashlights. They’ve been really useful on a number of occasions. It gets really dark here at night.
- Dive gear. Soooo heavy, so bulky, yet we are SO glad we brought it. Diving with one's own gear makes all the difference when you are diving in a new place, particularly under challenging conditions like the drift diving we did in Taveuni. I will definitely judge future gear purchases based on their "travel-ability" -- weight and bulk especially.
Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda
Here are a few things we would have done differently in the packing department....
- Foodstuffs - We should've checked with Fiji's agricultural regulations to see what we could and could not bring in in terms of food. We lost quite a bit of weight at customs when we had to throw away Costco-sized bags of beef jerky and some other items. We should’ve packed more spices (taco seasoning, Italian seasoning, etc.) instead.
- Knife – A good kitchen knife or two is worth its weight in gold.
- Ant bait – Living in the tropics means living with sugar ants. We’ve had to be very careful with cleaning up and even then, have troubles with little invasions whenever a crumb is left somewhere.
- Other electronics – Did we really need the Ipod touch, Ben’s Ipod and two Ipod Nano’s? No. We thought they’d be useful on plane or boat trips but the Kindle and on board entertainment has turned out to be just fine.
- More batteries – We should have brought more batteries, especially hard to find ones like the ones we use for our filter. The rechargeables we brought have been useless.
- Warm stuff – Fiji has turned out to be a bit colder than we anticipated. There have been plenty of times that we’ve wished for a nice pile pullover. At between 1 and 5 mm’s of thickness, Ben’s and my wetsuits have also turned out to be a bit skimpy. A hoody or other cover up would’ve been good.
- Cosmetics out – I brought lots of face cream that I haven’t used – thanks in no small part to Fiji’s moist climate.
- More erasers for our mechanical pencils.
- Fewer vitamins – It is ridiculous the amount of vitamins we’ve brought. Having to do it over again, I would pack a good multivitamin for each of us and call it good.
- More antibiotic ointment – The kids around here, being kids, have all sorts of cuts and scabs on their bodies. They’d heal a heck of a lot quicker with a regular dose of Neosporin. So cheap, so light weight, so useful. Many sizes of bandages would’ve been a good call too.
- Sports equipment – The balls we brought have been a huge hit with the locals. If anything, we should’ve brought more of them. And a volleyball net too wouldn’t have been a bad idea. The tent we brought has gotten little use so far but will likely be used much in Tasmania and Australia.
- Craft projects – Tica packed some beading materials that have been a huge hit with the girls and boys who come by to play in the afternoons. More clasps and better wire would have been a great idea.
- More duct tape!
- Back up gear – We’ve had a few close calls in terms of our snorkel gear. In retrospect, we should’ve not given away our back up mask and snorkel. We also should’ve brought extra clasps for our fins. (See note about repair kit above.)
- Gifts – We should’ve packed more gifts for new found friends – t-shirts, books, hats, toys and sports equipment for the kids, periodicals for the kavalagi’s.
All in all, I think we did a great job packing for a place we’ve never been to. For those of you considering a trip over here (hint, hint) or some other South Pacific island location, we hope the above will be of use.