Exploring Nadi Fiji – Going to a Local Village

So we had spent about a week in Suva and had a blessed time together and with family.  We decided to go to Nadi where the international capital was and spend the remaining couple days before I have to fly back to work in North Carolina.  We passed lots of interesting sites along the way, such as this container business. It appeared from the sign that people were using converted units for office space.



Lots of greenery along the way.


Houses were not far off the main road and you could see people cooking and hanging up cloths,  Living daily life.


Once we arrived and had checked in to the hotel we both felt the hunger pangs and decided to go get some food.  Here we are eagerly waiting for out lamb curry.  yum!


We stayed at the Tokatoka Hotel Fiji  Which was a really nice place, not far from the airport.  Pool, Waterside, Restaurant, Spa, all in house.  Or you can also get a taxi and go to town where there are plenty of shops and restaurants.


We were asking the hotel taxi driver about local villages and he said hey you can go on a village tour its only $5 fijian.  So we decided to do that the next day.  We drove around the valley and got a really nice tour by car.  Then we headed to the village.


Here we are in one part of the village.  Surrounding houses in the outer area of village was home to about 1000 locals.


The village church.


Memorial stone with different names of I believe pastors that had served in that church.


This is the village drum, the is what was used in olden days to summon send messages through the valley, the sound carries very far.


Holding the wooden drum clubs.


And our tour guide is getting worried that I might be getting ready to summon the village. No worries I didn’t beat the drum.


We walked back around the church and went and bought some handicrafts that the local ladies of the village had made and then we left the village and went back to nap during the hot afternoon.


So we had a blessed time and then the time came for me to get back to work again.  Us together before I went through security.  Till we meet again my God hold you in the palm of his hand.  Love you Dear.



Los Angeles a little over 10 hours away.  Strong tailwind of 117 km an hour helped push the plane over the pacific.



Exploring Suva Fiji – Beautiful Weather

Taking one of the many taxi rides to get around Suva.  They had multiple roads under construction at the same time so was tough to get around some places.


Here a couple fishermen either heading to fish or selling there catch along the harbor. Boats would go up and down the wharf and people who wanted fish would flag them down to buy  fish.


Some nice trees along the wharf.


One of the many bus stops throughout the city.


View of some of the different boats in the harbor.


Glassy water.


A cruse ship briefly stopped in and the passengers were able to get out and shop.


Park in Suva by the McDonald’s.


View accross one section of Suva.  You can see the Ocean below if your at the right vantage point.


Getting some fried rice at the MCHH Mall food court.


Here we were at the new Taiwanese Restaurant that just opened in Suva.


Family Crossing the street, holding hands and making a group trek across the road.


Demodar City Shopping Center, always busy and full of cars and a popular destination.  MHCC and Demodar City two very popular shopping centers in Suva.


Hanging out at Gloria Jeans Coffee at MHCC.  Good to be together.


3 Months of Apart -Time For a Reunion!

I had been in the USA about 3 months, it was January, work had temporarily slowed down and My wife was in Fiji with her extended family. So thankfully the opportunity arose to go see her.

CLT to San Francisco.


Flight to Nadi On Time! Oh Yeah!


Selfie before taking off. Buddy behind me was participating in selfie too and I didn’t even know guess he was happy to be going to Fiji too.


Arrival in Fiji. Captain set the plane down so softly could hardly tell we even landed.


And with my dear wife again. Hanging out at MHCC mall in Suva Fiji.


Waiting on Papers – Takes Patience!

Back in the USA felt good,  Being able to get back to work and earn some cash was really nice.  However its tough when your best friend is halfway across the world. Can’t wait till papers are finalized for her to come to the States.


Back to video calls for a while!  not as good as in being together but its nice to see your dearests face vs the old fashioned phone call.



Enduring the distance, cant wait to be together again.

Time to Say Goodbye – For a While


It was a precious time from June to October that I was able to spend with my gal spanning 3 countries, from Taiwan, to Fiji, then Tuvalu.  But work was calling and and much as I hated to be apart from my wife I needed to get back to prepare things.


Sunset in Funafuti, Tuvalu


Me, Nancy, Mom, Dad and various cousins and grandkids. We took a ride up and down the island.


Last minute Selfie.


Many different family members each gave me a shell necklace to remember them by.


Till we meet again!


Flying out of Funafuti, you can see the thin atoll home to about 4500 people.



When you suddenly realize that your experiences have changed you.  New cultures, people friendships, and memories.


Flying into Suva en route to USA.



Getting a burger in Nadi International  Airport while waiting for flight to Los Angles.

IMG_20171013_203739 (1)

And we are off to LAX.


Goodbye Niutao – Back to the Capital

We had been on Niutao for about 8 weeks and thoroughly enjoyed it.  For me getting to experience the culture people and food was a very unique experience, and for my wife it was a familiar world.  The day came when we headed back to the main capital Funafuti. my wife’s parents needed to work on some paperwork in the capital and I needed to get back to the North Carolina for work, and to work on a visa so my wife could come to the USA.  So we all headed to the capital together. IMG_20170922_135519

We waited for this cargo boats to fully load with our traveling companions.


Last minute selfie.


Lots of supplies going to Funafuti,  Mats, empty fuel drums to be refilled, and a brand new handcrafted outrigger canoe, maybe for a relative or or possibly for sale headed to the capital.


A few minutes after the ship had secured the people, cargo, and transport boats we headed south.  Niutao is about a mile across and it began to grow smaller and smaller.


Till all you could see was a faint line just sticking up about the blue water.  Oral history goes back about 7 generations which could be 350-600 years. But its possible that people lived here long before then as well.  Choosing to make a home on this small oasis in the vastness of of the pacific ocean.




Various Pictures – Around Niutao Island

Here are some various pics.


Ducks being raised in safety in a cage before being getting larger to let loose and roam.

IMG_20170806_094937 (1)

Large Corral and rock wall heaped up by last major storm event.  From where I standing its about 6 ft tall.  Some typhoons can heap up rock and coral walls 12-15 ft.  IMG_20170810_161612

As the corral is heap up and thrown ashore vegetation inches further out  and the island land mass can actually grow.


Some beautiful corral pieces.


Picture of the lagoon center of the island, is not 100% fresh but is much less salty than the ocean water.  It rises and falls with the tide because the pressure from the ocean flowing through the porous coral rock that makes up this island.


Gravel paths going by the lagoon. No cars on this small island, only motorbikes and a couple tractors.


weaving a hand fan out of painted coconut leaves.


Going to a event, wearing a traditional skirt made of long thin leaves from a pandunus tree and a hand made garland of fresh leaves and flowers.


Time to go to a feast.



At the one of the feasts with dad. While we were there we must have gone to at least 12 different occasions.  Plenty of feasts, it was part of the culture to have lots of community events and speeches.  Sitting on hand woven mats made from the long thin leaves of the pandunus tree.






With a auntie.


The 2 cargo and passenger ships that make circuits around he 9 islands that make up Tuvalu are the lifeline of the county,  Bringing goods and taking people to and from the capital city Funafuti.  Depending on the schedule of the ships, a ship could come once or sometimes twice a month.  Loading and unloading usually took 6-10 hours and then the ship would depart.  This particular morning the ship arrived I walk the couple hundred yards it took to get to the beach and as I stepped out on the the beech from the trees this site greeted me. It was high tide and a stunning view, the sky and sea looked like they were melting into each other.  gave the appearance of the ship floating in the sky.


Harvesting Pulaka – On a Very Hot Day

So during some preparation for a feast my dad in law needed to go to the pulaka pit and harvest some big roots that had been growing for awhile.



Deciding which ones to harvest.


Grandson watching grandpa.


Fun for everyone!


This is what the harvested roots look like.  The leaves of the plant look like a sweet potato leave but obviously much larger and the plant doesn’t vine it grows as a stalk.  Especially when the plots of pulaka are in the forest and are competing for light, some of the stalks can reach 8-12′ in height which is really amazing.


Video of the harvest.

Preparing for a Wedding – Lets Get to Work!

While we were on the island a local couple got married and we were able to see and participate in the whole process.  First stage of events was for the couple to go to court, bring witnesses and answer a few questions from the judges.  After that they were given a marriage certificate.



Some tough questions but also some laughs as well.


After the the questions and marriage certificate given some food was brought out and the people present had some lunch including the judges.



The next morning there was early preparation for the wedding.  All the chicken and pork fish and other foodstuff was prepared the lunch.



Preparing chicken and slicing up the pig for the fire.



Coconut husks make a hot fire, then overlaid with coral rocks.  the pig meat, chicken, fish, and breadfruit is all piled on and then they cover with banana leaves and mats and the meat is cooked for several hours.


Scraping coconut meat out of the shells, after several big white piles of shredded coconut meat were made it was the squeezed to separate the coconut milk.


Squeezing the milk out of the scraped coconut meat.  Very rich milk you could not drink more than a little.  The added sugar and boiled it down to make a sweet milky coconut cream that was added over top fish and pulaka.



Hand compressing the grated coconut meat to get separate the milk.


Ladies preparing dishes.



Dishes ready to be distributed.


Dancing celebrations!


Traditional Dancing at the wedding.


And picture with the happy couple, congratulations on your new life together.



Tour of the Island – History and Legends

One day my wife’s uncle Vaguna took us on a short tour of the island, They have several interesting stories about the history of the island.  One of which was the legend of the giant that was buried there.   You can see the size of the grave below about 12 ft long. they said in olden days there were 3 giants that protected the Island and could make the island invisible to invading forces through witchcraft.


Here uncle is showing me the largest pulaka pit on the island,  there oral tradition says that they made a invading enemy force dig it out with slave labor once they defeated them.


Was quite large, unfortunately there was some saltwater intrusion which was making the bottom of the pulaka roots rot in some places.


Here is a memorial to one of the first missionaries to Niutao island,  The chief didn’t like his message and hit him over the head with a local club killing him.  They said it was a Samoan man that first came to Niutao 100 years ago with the Gospel.


There was another story of how the chief of the island wanted tobacco and through a trance saw a ship carrying tobacco from America to Australia and put a spell on the captain to make him go off course.  Well they said that ship got caught in the reef off of Niutao and the crates of tobacco were thrown off the ship to lighten it and floated ashore.  They said there is a large anchor covered in coral on the ocean floor just off the island.  Had a lot of fun taking the tour and hearing the history and legends of the area.


Here driving through the bush to get to the largest pulaka piton the island.

Local School Upgrade – Celebration!

So while we were in Niutao Island there was a addition put on the local school and after it was completed there was a big community celebration.  We were invited and dressed up to attend.


The local Chief (3rd from left) and other officials came to give there support.


Kids listen the the headmaster give a talk.


Watching a performance.


Going To Church – Sharing a Devotional

So we Had been to the largest local church several times and before we departed they asked me to share a devotional on there Fathers day which I accepted at the encouraging of my dad in law.  Not a father yet but I figured I could share some wisdom from the Bible.  My biggest question was “do I need a interpreter?” they said no, enough people understand English.  Well ok then lets get started! Got dressed up in a traditional sulu and fathers day candy necklace.


Decided to share a devotional on the the Father of Faith,  Abraham.   Touched briefly on three topics, His Calling, His Obedience, and his Legacy of Faith.  About 15 minute devotional.  Final quote,  “I can think of nothing greater that could be said of the Fathers in this room by future generations than what was said of Abraham,  that he, “believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness”  Rom 4:3


After several speakers shared we stood up front and different people from the congregation walked up and gave us many more candy necklaces for fathers day.


Beautiful acoustics with high ceiling.




Some Local Foods – Taste and See

So if your ever in the small pacific country of Tuvalu and you get a chance to experience local foods this is what your may have. Below is a buffet sample, this was in court just after a wedding vow between a couple, they broke out some food and had lunch immediately after.  bread, cake, eggs, salad, and local black birds bottom left are a few of the things on the menu here.


Here I am with my wife and am munching on what they call a Pandunus fruit.  Its like a huge pine cone with the individual fibrous pods filled with very sweet juice that you kind of chew / suck out of it.  Also wearing traditional handmade garland.


Pandunus Fruit.


My wife with a big delicious coconut crab.  Very good flavor to the meat and is a delicacy in many countries.


This is Breadfruit, extremely versatile fruit.  Can be boiled and has a squash / pumpkin like  taste,  can be deep fried to make breadfruit chips which hare similar to plantain chips, and can be baked and tastes somewhat like a potato.  And if you let if ripen it has a passion fruit sweet musky quality to it.


So before we left the island Uncle Vaguna wanted to make me a feast, He is a Seventh Day Adventist so he doesn’t have pigs like many of the other islanders, but he has chickens and ducks. So he made me a duck feast.  In pic below you can see counter clockwise Roast Duck, Juice in bucket, Raw Tuna Fish with cucumbers and onions and mayo and salt, Cucumbers,  Rice, Duck Sauce, local Papaya’s, Baked Breadfruit, and Fried Breadfruit chips center. This on top of the spread Banana leaves.  It was for me they said, so they wouldn’t eat at all until  I was completely finished.


Food at a wedding,  Raw fish, Rice, Cake, Local Fried Donuts. Pork, Chicken, and Fish.


This is Pulaka, its like a super big tough Tarro root. They grow these in special plots and it is a staple mainstay food, especially before modern food like eggs and rice and flour began to be imported.  In olden days Fish, Pulaka, and Coconuts and Pork were the core food survival items.


And don’t forget about the Fish, If a skilled fisherman is in the family will have this quite often.


Bananas, Lots of these, some were plantain like very starchy and there was another variety smaller and very sweet.  They mulched the banana trees with leaves and scraps from the yard and also planted them right behind the pig pens, the refuse from the pig pens made the banana trees grow very nicely.


Every family had at least a couple pigs, some had more than that.  They would butcher them for special occasions. Weddings, Funerals, Birthdays, Farewells, etc


When they would butcher the pigs they would start a fire with coconut cook them in a pit.




And lets not forget about the coconut, So many uses, they used the nut and the juice to make many dozens of types of foods and combinations.


Here squeezing coconut milk out of a grated coconut meat.


The people in the pacific have survived for many thousands of years by using sustainable local food in many unique and creative ways.

Catching Crabs – In the Bush

One of the fun things to do on a small Island is to go catch crabs!  Its with your bare hands to so you have to know the technique on how to grab the crab or you will get pinched very uncomfortable and might even lose a little bit of skin.


Dad with his keen eye scouting for movement. IMG_20170808_161259.jpg

Selfie before I go potentially lose a finger to a crab, why not!  First time to do this.


We were catching the common variety crabs but if you go out at night you can find the Cocunut Crabs, which are a lot bigger and smarter and don’t come out in the day but do exist in Tuvalu.

Coconut Crab

Lets just say that navigating stumps and logs and mud to get to scurrying crabs was not without getting dirty.


Here we are with half a bucket, we ended up filling the whole bucket up and taking it back,  washing the crabs and then boiling them before digging in.


Gone Fishing – Be Back Soon!

One of the staple food items in the Pacific and Tuvalu is fresh fish.  There are some men who have canoes or motorboats and the skills to catch the fish. My father in law is a good fisherman, Many times he went out early in the morning around 4 AM and was out several hours before coming back around 8 or 9 AM.  Plenty of times he came back with fresh Tuna,  king fish, barracuda, and other species that he caught.  Here with one of his many prizes.



Just returning with the outrigger sea canoe.


My dad in law is very good at making handmade lures out of feathers and supplies.  Here he is with one of his buddies making some new one.


Here a official from the fisheries office records the weights and lengths of the catches which helps them keep up with what is happening to the shoals of fish in there waters.


Nice catch and ready to take it home to process.


One of the uncles caught a shark,  gutting it on the beach as son watches dad before taking it back to home to process further.


Some of the boys play with small sharks while the others grab the tuna and head for the higher shore. Tide is coming in.


Dad is happy for the catch, some of the fish will be cooked right away and the rest will go in the small freezer.



South Pacific Life – Island Style!

After embarking on the Tuvalu Island of Niutao, we set about getting into the routine of of life for a few weeks, Island Style! The main house with living room and toilet and bedroom and storage area.  Water Collection from the roof flows into a water tank.


Then beside the main house is a outdoor kitchen and another building with raised floor for taking naps and sleeping in the cool outdoor air.  The main house was made of concrete and took awhile to cool down  after a hot day, but the buildings outside allowed the cool night air to flow through them and brought cooling down results much more quickly.  You can see the coconut husks stacked under the building,  those are used for fires.


Hanging out with Mom and Dad and having a good time.  Mom was getting ready to fry some fresh tuna.


Mom enjoying a moment reading.


Dad giving Mom a massage at end of day while she reads the Bible.





To Niutao Island – 65 Hour Boat Ride

We spent a couple days in Funafuti Tuvalu and then boarded a small vessel doing a loop to 3 of the other islands that make up the nation state of Tuvalu.  Niutao was the last island on the loop before the ship came back to the capital city Funafuti which made our journey quite long. IMG_20170801_085947.jpg

Waiting for people and supplies to finish boarding.


And Off we finally went, many many hours of blue water ahead. There wasn’t much to do except watch many miles of beautiful blue ocean wash by, here is this pic enjoying instant coffee while there is a thunderstorm in the distance. After a few minutes you could feel the large energy waves from the storm pass under the boat.


When the sun was out it was the most beautiful sparkling blue ocean.



This is where you could get a great view of the ocean,  lower level access point,  It was close enough to the water that a occasional large wave would send some over spray into your face.



Video of the view!


After the half day and overnight travel we arrived at the one of the Islands along the way.  The island did not have a port like Funafuti so the only way to load and unload people and cargo were 2 boats that ferried them back and forth.  The process was slow and so the ship would hang out on the island side protected from the waves while the boats went back and forth hour after hour with people and goods.


Unloading concrete blocks and concrete  headed for a construction project on the island.






People coming to get on the vessel, likely headed to the capital. When people came to board they had to time when to get off based on the swell of the wave, get off to late and your boat would dip to low and you could lose your footing.  Unfortunately one person fell off when a larger wave came at the wrong moment and had to be pulled out of the water.




Unloading frozen Tyson chicken from the USA!!




Locals enjoying talking while we all wait for the ship to finish loading.



Elderly Grandma with hand fan to help keep cool in the heat.


A lot of interesting sights and sounds along the very long journey,  most people were going economy and bringing there own sleeping mats and food and simple finding a place aboard the lower, middle, or upper deck to claim and lie down. We had a first class room aboard the ship with air conditioning which was nice, Nancy was most comfortable lying down or she would start to feel seasick.  So I ventured out To get her food and drinks and take a break and see the different activities going on at different stages of the journey and talk to people on the ship.

Then we finally arrived.  Niutao Island Tuvalu.



To Funafuti Tuvalu! – North and Hotter

After enjoying our wedding and time in Suva Fiji with many friends and family, we headed north, to experience the small country of Tuvalu.  I was excited o meet many more family members from my wife’s family.  A small Turbo Prop plane made a 3x a week flight from Suva Fiji to Funafuti Tuvalu.  This small country, a series of 9 islands spread across the remote pacific formerly called Ellice Islands, a protectorate of the British empire before gaining independence.  This beautiful and remote country was where my wife grew up before going to boarding school in Fiji as a teenager for 4 years and then University in Taiwan for 4 years after that.  Despite being away for much of the last 8 years this was her home and birthplace, Timeless Tuvalu.



After a two and a half hour flight cruising over blue water at about 18,000 ft the capital and main atoll island was in sight, Funafuti.  The pilots must have been having a lot of fun because we descended quite rapidly, to where your stomach felt like it was floating inside your chest  as the plane dropped from the sky and headed towards the airport strip.  I had never been on a commercial flight that dropped so quickly through the sky! Even though we flew 2.5 hours north it was actually hotter in Funafuti Tuvalu because it was closer to the equator.

Here is a Youtube video that shows the decent into Funafuti.



Just landed and unloaded / reloading for takeoff

Landing in Tuvalu Airport



Taking off in Tuvalu airport.


After landing in Funafuti, a kind relative of my wife paid for us to stay 3 days in the Viaku Langi Hotel in Funafuti.  We enjoyed that and took our time to go around the capital and ride our loaned motorbike up and down the atoll and visit her friends and relatives.

Sunset in Funafuti Atoll

After a couple days in the capital we headed to another one of the small islands that make up Tuvalu, Niutao.


Wedding In Suva Fiji – A New Beginning

Finally the big day came,  several months of preparation and we were ready.  In Fiji only Court weddings are recognized, so everyone who wants to get married has to go to the Justice of the Peace.  Also if your from a different country you have to bring a notarized apostilled Single Status Certificate or Certificate of No Impediment from your country. As long as you have that document its really fairly straightforward to getting married in Fiji and many couples, especially from New Zealand choose Fiji as a wedding destination.

You go to the court and they enter all your information into their system and then schedule you to come back the next day to bring at least two witnesses, stand in front of the very nice officer,  say vows,  sign papers and then you get a lovely marriage certificate!


Going to the court was the very first thing we did that day, about 10:00 AM.  Nancy wore a dress with a traditional decorative necklace and I wore a Bula shirt with a traditional Sulu garment.  After that stage was finished we went and got some bubble tea in the MHCC mall in Suva.



After we got bubble tea and some food it was nap time until later in the day when the other events started. We had rented a restaurant and hall for the evening and decided to do a short ceremony of blessing / devotional from a pastor and repeat our vows and exchange rings again before the audience before launching into the food and festivities for the 100 or so people who had blessed us with their presence.

So after the vows, rings, and blessing by the pastor,  the food was brought out and the feast began.  They has prepared a stage and we sat traditional island style cross leg while the various dishes were brought out before us. Very tasty food and some new dishes I had never had before.  We wore one set of wedding cloths and then when it was time to dance we put on the traditional Tuvaluan costumes.  Now I’m not versed in traditional pacific dancing but my wife is, she is very talented and knows multiple styles,  She she was the dancing star and I just tried to make some decent artistic moves and look enthusiastic. Its ok, as long as you look happy and dance they realize you appreciate their culture and forgive you for any dance blunders.  After dancing there was a time of giving gifts and many of the dear people gave us gifts and cards.


It was a blessed day and went well,  and were were blessed by others serving us and hopefully were a blessing to others as well as we committed to starting a life officially together!


Suva Showcase – Here We Come!

“We have to go to the showcase!” at least that’s what Nancy’s small friends thought. People were flocking in from the surrounding area to go for the rides, food and goods for sale, and it was just matter of fact that we were going as well. It was after all a nice break from the daily routine and something to look forward to. We headed to the showcase later that day, (the equivalent of a small county fair,) paid the entry tickets and were admitted inside.


Next thing you know we were surrounded by throngs of people, booths of food, and different rides that had been set up across the grounds. With many rides to choose from we decided we would do two rides and then go explore the food court. The most prominent ride was the small Ferris wheel that was set up. We got in line and and had time to watch a couple of groups of riders enjoy the wheel ride before we did.


After a few minutes it was our turn to board, we got on our seat and were rotating slowly up while they disembarked the previous riders. Once they had it fully loaded with new people there was about 5 minutes of the wheel going full speed. It didn’t look very fast from the ground, but once you were up on it it felt higher and faster than you originally thought!!


After the Ferris wheel we walked around the grounds and went to the food vendor area section and looked and things got some ice cream and BBQ plates. The food court where chairs and tables were set up were 100% full so we went and found some stairs to sit on the nearby Vodafone arena and sat down to enjoy our food. All in all we had a good time and enjoyed being at the event, especially because the younger ones were obviously enjoying it, very carefree, all they had to do was ask for money from Nancy and they would get it for rides and food all night!! imagine that! It is simply fun being around a lot of people in a energized event, and with food and rides it made it even more fun for all of us. Mission Accomplished!