Thursday, April 15, 2010

Suva City tour

Welcome to Suva City, Fiji!
I realized that I have shown lots of remote, backwoods photos of life in Fiji on this blog but I have yet to give you the city showdown.
We actually try to avoid spending time downtown because it is usually a hustling, crowded and chaotic environment with tons of people shopping and doing business, tourists (especially when the cruise ships are in port), shoe-shine guys, newspaper boys, non-stop taxi drivers and even the regular beggars. If we have to go downtown, we try to go first thing in the morning before it gets so congested.
The Monday after Easter was a public holiday so we decided to go downtown and take lots of pictures while it would be relatively "quiet"... it was!
The picture above is of the newest building. It looks like sails of traditional Fijian ship. Inside it is a very upscale department store that focuses a lot on tourist goods. It has escalators and a multi-level parking terrace -- neither of these luxuries are found around here very much.

Here is the main river that runs through the city. I have no idea if it has a name. I wish it were cleaner and less smelly because it is quite scenic. There are a few women that regularly fish along the sides of the walls but I can't imagine eating anything that would come from this water.

There are a couple of police stations downtown. The police system is quite different than what we are used to. No police personnel carries a firearm. They only carry clubs, if they carry anything at all. Firearms are totally illegal here. There are not many police officers that drive cars. There are police posts all around the towns and villages but none of these police officers have access to a car. I really don't know how they respond to urgent needs urgently. I am just really hoping we never have an urgent need!
They do have radar guns and stand along side the main highway and if they catch someone speeding they just wave their arm and you are supposed to pull over. Paul and I have both been flagged down each once. I was caught going 72k in a 60k area. I sincerely apologized but the officer said he'd have to ticket me anyway. He took my driver's license (I do have a Fiji DL) and then came back to the car and told me that he decided to just give me a warning instead. I thanked him profusely and slowly drove away breathing a huge sigh of relief!

Here is the Westpac bank. This is the bank that we use when we need to get a large amount of money to pay our rent each month. I read in the paper this week that they are going to do some renovations over the next 22 weeks. The building was built in 1901. I guess it is time for some updating.

Not all the buildings in the downtown are old and historic. Here are some of the more contemporary buildings.

Thankfully we have one of these "staples of life" close by. But like most foreign McDonalds, they never give us enough ice in our Coke Zeros!
There are 3 McDonalds in all of Fiji: 2 in Suva and 1 in Nadi (close to the International Airport).

I do love the historic, Colonial-influenced buildings. Too bad they have to keep up with the times!

This is the Suva City Carnegie Library. I keep thinking I will go inside but I haven't done it yet. I finally found the library at the LDS Church College so I having my reading covered for now.

Just a couple more office buildings that were built during the British ruling years.

Here is our MALL!
Yes, a mall!! Complete with 3 levels of retail shops and a food court!
Now, clear your minds of what you can find in "your" mall because shopping here is not the same. I seldom find anything to buy (which doesn't seem to bother Paul at all). When I come downtown for my hairdresser Paul usually drops me off and then I come here to catch a taxi to get me back to the Service Center.
(remember this is a public holiday and most stores were not open and still lots of cars... only a small version of the normal traffic chaos.
This is the back side of the mall....

... and this is the front side. It is right next to that scary river. It is a nice place, don't get me wrong. It has escalators and a parking terrace too! Great place to people watch.

Here is the mini bus station. Tons of mini buses travel from outer areas into Suva and back and forth constantly. The majority of the population does not own a vehicle so the streets are full of taxis, mini buses, transport trucks and tons of big city buses with open windows that just have canvas tarps to cover the windows when it rains. Transportation expenses are a huge challenge to the locals.

There are quite a few handicraft booths in several locations. This is the closest one to the port where the cruise ships anchor. The building behind the blue building is the main handicraft area and that is a huge parking terrace above. Across the street and down the road a ways is another handicraft market called "the flea market" but it sells nice, new, traditional wooden, woven and Fiji-esk souveniors. Always very entertaining to step into these places. All shoppers get immediately swamped upon by multiple vendors promoting their goods. We bought all of our grandsons rugby shirts for Christmas at the flea market. It was fun and we got a good deal from a really sweet Indian woman who shared how much she loved Jesus when she noticed our missionary badges.

Yes!!! A movie complex!! We were so surprised when we walked inside. It looks exactly like any theatre complex at home complete with popcorn, candy, sodas and one of the 6 theatres is 3D. The upside is it costs $5 fijian ($2.50 US) for a ticket but the downside is most of the movies are from Bollywood instead of Hollywood. About half the population is Indian and they are the more affluent citizens so they get the most movie choices.

So I hope you enjoyed seeing where we get to spend these 18 months. If you want to get up close and personal, come on over! We would welcome visitors any time. We are so excited to get our girls here next week!!! It will be fun to see this all through new eyes!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Happy Birthday honey!

From the looks of this picture, we could be any where but this is a monumental occasion: Paul's birthday in Fiji. Each of us will only have one birthday while we are away and this is Paul's turn. We made the most of it. First we took cupcakes into our office at the Service Center and shared with all our dear friends at work and then tonight we had 5 of our senior missionary friends over for cake and ice cream. Besides singing "Happy Birthday to you...", here in Fiji they always add "Happy long life to you..." as well. We think that is a great gift of a wish for a long life!

We only attached a small fraction of the total number of birthday candles. We didn't want to set off our smoke detector. Paul did blow them all out at once!
I was pretty pleased with the German Chocolate Cake I managed to create.
(thanks for the delicious frosting recipe Katie)

Would you like a slice? Hurry over... this won't last long!

Happy Birthday to my beloved Eternal Companion! You are the love of my life!