Two weeks ago I took off from Salt Lake with ALL of these BAGS! 1 personal item full of books, 1 carry on with my clothes, a bag with 50 pounds of polypropylene sheets of plastic, and another bag with 50 pounds of plaster of paris. I got elected to take the extra bag becuase I could get it for free.
I airport hopped (and when i say hopped, i mean dragged along with 18 bags) from Salt Lake to LA to Hawaii then eventually to Guam!! My first out of the country experience. Guam! Who even knows where that is!? I sure didn't!
But it was a cool place (and by that I mean DYING HOT) and I walked around and saw the sights.
Then it was onto Fiji! There I met up with, as Dad has so notoriously identified them, THE TEAM.
Dave, the founder, Kent, his little brother, and Kim, arguably the most glorious part about this whole adventure.
We bopped around Fiji during our layover...
...toured a cool Hindu temple....
...visited the market...
...and relaxed on the beach after a game of ocean frisbee. Salty. But fun. Up to that point in my life, easily the best layover I've ever experience becuase it had nothing to do with sitting in an airport missing flight after flight after flight.
Unfortunately, upon our return to the aiport, we encountered a little problem. Remember that 50 oound bag I was elected to carry since I could get it for free? Well, yeah, free, everywhere except from Fiji to Tonga. The only problem with that is, it's not like you can just distribute 24x24 sheets of polypropylene or handfuls of plaster to other people's bags, which, by the way, are already cutting the kg limit close.
But, distribute it we did! I do not know how the security people so lightly considered a bag full of white powder in the middle of the airport being sneakily passed out to various people's bags and pockets, but we finally made it through after some good shniking and crazy looks from the Fijians.
(The following are in no particular order and are a mere recounting of the adventures)
We did baptisms at the temple! (in Tongan!)
We saw many beautiful sunsets!
We toured their elaborately decorated cemeteries, which are everywhere!
We got caught in a torrential, real live, honest to goodness, i was soaking wet, the potholes turned to puddles which turned to lakes, monsoon!
We worked with many, many, many amputees.
We ate curry for lunch everyday!
We stayed in a mansion until the owner thereof who previously offered us free boarding wanted $1200 a week so we left him in a heartbeat!
And moved instead to the guest dorms at Liahona High School. They were great!
We explored exotic beaches and forests with vines and rocks and vegetation like you can't imagine!
We climbed palm trees!
(Ok, so just baby ones, but Dave really could climb them and we met a cool little guy who just climbed up with his machete in his mouth and chopped us down a billion coconuts!)
He was so cool!
He also invited us to play volleyball at the church down the road (because there is an LDS church down every road and at every church there is an outdoor basketball/volleyball/tennis court)
I was definitely the only girl, the only person weighing less than 200 pounds, and the only palangi. (aka white person) (aka, it was awesome!)
And lest you believe all we did was galavant, we really did work in the hospital at least 7 hours a day setting up and working in our newly founded prosthetic clinic. The hospital is a nasty place with piles of junk everywhere, but it made for easy scavenging for whatever supplies we needed. It was amazing to work with the amputees and train the physical therapist, Sione (John), and it was cool to actually really truly set up a clinic there!
Also, I'll remind you that Kim is the girl who convinced me to buy a tarantula, so you better believe that the instant we saw an octopus hanging on the side of the road, we bargained for 2 for 5 bucks, ended up getting all 4, and ate one for dinner. AN OCTOPUS! We bought and ate an octopus in Tonga!
Also, the place in the hosptial where we set up the clinic also happened to be next to none other than the psych unit. We made friends with this lady becuase every day we would walk by and she would say, "HI! WHERE FROM!? WHERE GOING!?"
As if that weren't hilariuos and exciting enough to associate with crazy Tongan people, Kim and I also had the wonderful opportunity to befriend this little guy named Dee. We could never understand what he was saying (and not just because he was speaking Tongan) but he just roamed around and we finally asked someone about his situation, and they revealed to us that he was indeed a patient in the psych ward, there because he killed his brother!!!
Somehow he sought us out when we were taking pictures and he wanted a picture with us....
We worked. This is THE TEAM. Dave the founder, Kent his little brother (affectionately called Kentl or Kentathlon), Peta (a mix between Michael Shields and who knows who else), Kim my dear soul, Sione the physical therapist and huge Tongan rugby player, me, Matt Bracken the prosthetist, and his wife Nylene.
We played on the beach and snorkeled.
And we had a picnic at the disease ridden hospital after we very sadly missed our ferry to one of the outer islands :(
Pigs. Everywhere. Even in the ocean.
Tonga was AMAZING! It went by way too fast, but I sure did have a great time helping with the clinic, tracking finances, keeping records of amputees, and employing my wily rhetoric at every possible chance. Other adventures not pictured here include fire dancing, kayaking, shark witnessing, bargaining at the market, running through the jungle, talking to the natives, singing Tongan hymns, going to Tongan church, watching rugby, riding taxis, climbing trees, buying out the entire hardware store, and amazing, amazing blowholes along the coast.
Then I was off. Across miles, and miles, and miles of ocean. There is SO MUCH WATER IN THIS WORLD!
And where do you end up when you cross it all?
And when I say Japan, I mean real live, honest to goodness
Bamboo plants along the road
Bidets at every toilet
Strange toilets (how do you suppose they use these?)
Japanese architecture (that stuff you see in the movies? That is not just a hollywood depiction. That is a real scene that really exists in all its glory on the other side of the world. Amazing!)
This is a huge temple in Narita that is surrounded by lots of other little temples and it was so cool! I peeked inside one of them and there was a real huge drum with a real little Japanese man who was gonging with a real fire burning incense and real chanting in slanty tones and real Asians all kneeling barefoot beneath real golded dangly adornments from the ceiling. It was so real and I was there!
There were also real live Japanese gardens with bridges and bushes and huge goldfish.
Japan was definitely a highlight. I wish I had had more time, but the point is, there were thousands of Japanese, and I have never been in such a state of cluelessness as I have no understanding of the Japanese language and it's not even like I could look at the words and somehow link them to their Latin roots because it's all a bunch of characters. But it was SO AMAZING and a great way to top off a wonderful trip.