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Saturday, January 11, 2003
Hiking Mt. Korobaba or What the heck was I thinking?
Ritsu found out that the Rucksack-Club was offering several activities and for our first experience we decided to do the Mt. Korobaba hike, since it was said to be an easy hike, which fit people can do in 1 hour, and others in 2-3 hours (It took us 4.5 hours !!!).
We met with guide leader Ron at the Lami Tradewinds hotel, where 4 more hikers were waiting. We then continued to the cement factory a bit further down the road, where the trail would start. Ron, since he had other commitments, just lead us the first 15 minutes, until the trail was pretty obvious, and then Deborah was adhoc elected new hike guide, and she did a great job ... the only fork in the road was decided democratically anyway (and we made the right decision).
We thought we were well prepared, we had cold water, good shoes, long pants and sleeves (against the insects and to absorb sweat). But water was not enough. At 75% humidity you just start sweating right from the start, all clothing was drenched later. The topsoil on that trail is basically lose red dust mixed with water and as slippery as ice and snow, but gladly mixed with roots and twigs that can either help you to hold on, or easily twist your ankle.
The summit is at 464 meters (1300ft) and the first hour was ok, not too steep and very beautiful, then we came to a creek with clear water. After that it got steeper, we passed a wide area which was very slippery and then mud and roots built a natural staircase (to heaven or hell, you decide). My heart was racing faster, sweat was pouring in gallons and at times I feared I would faint. I have to admit that I nearly did not make it to the top, but when I was about to give up I heard that I was only a minute away from the summit, so I got my last energy together and made it ... Great view, eh ?
Summit .. great spot .. why are there no shady trees ?? Well, at least there was a slight breeze to cool us down, and of course the stunning view of Suva Bay. If there had been more shade I would have (and should have) stayed longer, but the sunny heat made us all wanting to return. The steep descent was actually easier than I thought, one had to concentrate to not stumble and break one's neck ... but there was also no big weight to lift. The other 4 hikers were somewhat faster than us, and before we reached the creek again, by shout conversation they checked if we are ok and that they would go on. We took a brief rest at the creek, I actually drank some of it water (still feeling fine so far).
But the last part was the hardest, we were already very exhausted and the way was very slippery, both of us fell several times on our butts, I stopped using my hands to make the fall softer, since I already had some nice scratches and bruises on both hands, and a little piece of rock jammed its way under one fingernail, yippieh. The rumbling of an approaching thunderstirm did not lighten our mood at all. There was also nothing really to hold on to, and so we scattered our way down, even being happy to hear the sound of cars, giving us an idea that we are not far anymore ...
At that point it was not really fun anymore and we must have looked pretty awkward stumbling out of the forrest like to people who just survived the dessert. We passed a group of fijian village women doing laundry (brilliant idea: do laundry upstream and have the kids swim in a puddle downstream: a) don't need a baby sitter b) you have clean kids). One of the very large fijian mamas was washing her dress, so she was topless, which in my weakened state nearly gave me a heart attach (kidding). In their friendly manner they asked "oh, where do you come from?" (and they usually mean Australia or Europe) I managed to mumble "from the top of the mountain" and they all laughed.
We finally came back to the car and I dropped all my garbs since they were full of red mud and sweat (and tears and blood) .. and we drove off to the next shell shop to buy whatever liquid they had, gatorade, water and some weird juice ...
back at home we managed to take a quick shower and then just fell into bed ... we awoke around 5:30 and noticed that we had not have any food in a long time (Ritsu had breakfast, me not) and Ritsu made some of her super yummy cold summer noodles (Soumen) and I still had a hard time recovering from exhaustion / dehydration. But I managed. I did not feel like watching anything so I read one of my favorite books and fell asleep.
Today we went hiking. What an adventure ... climbing up the 464 meter high Mt. Korobaba at 75% humidity was probably the toughest hike I have ever done. Seriously, at moments I thought I will faint. I was not sure when I was dehydrating, hyperventilating or just getting annoyed by the gallons of sweat pouring down on me. But in the end we were treated to a nice view of Suva bay.
We are extremely beat now and I bet we will have sore muscles in the morning. But what a challange / experience !!!
I will add some pics (and a longer report) tomorrow.
Friday started with another aggravating episode of fijian official's mentality ... we had the pleasure to go to the LTA (land transport authority, the equivalent to the DMV in the US) to pick up our fijian driver's licenses .. allegedly that has been all taken care of already and we just have to sign ... well .. turns out nothing was on record, we had waited 2.5 month for pretty much nothing, now we have to fill out all the forms and now it will take 6 weeks to get the licenses! And that lady Eileen at the LTA was anything but helpful, her skills were limited to stapling some forms together for us.
Ah well, we then returned to the city.
After spending some time in the office, I did some grocery shopping. My plan was to create one of our favorite TV foods: chicken wings! What we had experienced here so far in terms of wings was less than stellar. So, Do-It-Yourself. And now I finally understand the anatomy of the wing ... that it actually has 3 parts ... drum, wing and wingtip (discard the latter) ... and they turned out quite nicely (of course i carved our own carrot and celery sticks and made blue cheese dip and fries)...
Speaking of poultry: Here is the daily hatchling pic. Mama bird got a bit upset with me when she saw me taking pics of the little naked tykes. But she returned later to keep feeding.
I need to find out the name of the bird species ... they are all over here, from what I understand, they are from india originally, and people now see them as a pest (they are everywhere)
We ended up watching The Perfect Storm over those wings. To bad nothing really happens (besides character development) in the first 45 minutes ... and when the shit, excuse me, the storm hit the fan, I was so tired, I took a nap.
Great .. I love when I type a long entry and for some freaky reason it just vanishes while uploading it ... well .. the great connection here ... anyways .. I was just telling that last night I made BBQ chicken pizza which was very yummy. We then spent quite some time on our front porch.
Oh, and here 2 pics I received from to very kind souls who downloaded stuff for me and had that burned on CD and then my Dad brought that to Fiji when he came. So I gave him some stuff to bring back. Fiji Bitter beer and T-shirt / Bula shirt.
Well, here are 2 of the 3 nice people: say hello to Katalina and Andymion!
Wednesday was very productive: I woke up around 2 AM, and Ritsu at 3 and we both spent some time online. She went back to bed around 4, me around 6.
We then woke up at 7:20 and I made breakfast. In the morning I had people from the alarm system come over for some paperwork and to check on the system. I then went to town and spent some time at the office. At 1 I picked up Ritsu and we drove back home to interview a candidate for our house cleaning job, and this lady, Marama, seems to be nice, so we will try her for some time, starting next week. This basically means that then I will be staying home on Wednesdays to make sure the cleaning lady does nolt slip our TV into her pocket or something like that.
We had some chinese food for lunch (lamb and fish), which i had picked up in the city. After lunch we returned to our offices. Apple had another one of their big events and among many other things, they introduced their own web-browser called Safari (yes, it has become a jungle out there), and so far I am quite happy test driving it. On a related note, they released some kick-ass powerbooks, of which i'd love to have one really bad ... you now can have a drive that can burn DVDs in a small 12" laptop ... or you can treat yourself to the ultimate machine with a 17" widescreen display (and yes, it still is a laptop) .... But I am not a big friend of big laptops ... they shall be portable, right ?
In the evening we discovered that we have a nest right in front of our porch, so we could do some bird watching and discovered that the nest has 2 little birdies and one still in the shell.
We were very happy to see the mother bird return to the next, after our photographic intrusion, but I was certain that it will be ok as long as we do not touch the little ones.
Dinner was japanese (yay!), some Buta No Kakuni (pork cubes) leftovers with eggs and some kick ass rice (done by Ritsu). And we had some sake, using that super sake set I got for xmas.
Yesterday (monday) started with a rather unsettling episode ... I was just about to drive Ritsu to work when suddenly 4 teenage kids showed up (we were already in the car) and 2 of them pointed their knives at us / the car ... I was not sure if they were threatening us .. or they were just silly kids showing off their stuff ... anyways ... they should not be in the neighborhood ... When I got back they were still around, so I called the police :) I wonder if they found them. The second time around they actaully looked even more harmless, even smiling ... weird ..
Well, I then stayed home since the gardener was supposed to show up ... but maybe I got the dates confused (or he) and he will come next monday. I kept unpacking boxes and getting mad over the crappy online connection (rather "offline" and "disconnection")
For Dinner I made some classic spaghetti with bolognese sauce .. pretty nice, also great that I still had that parmesan cheese (which I hear is rare to get)
Thanks to the super crappy online connection ... more pics, less text (well .. text to be added later)
first, the girls on their saturday hiking trip
Yesterday (sunday) Utako had to return to Japan, and she took a bus from Suva to Nadi ... the ride is 4.5 hours along the south coast of Fiji .. and the ticket was something like 10.87F$ .. wow ... Here a pic of trying to hold her back :) She sure was a nice guest to have around.
Sunday night's dinner was some weird creation of mine .. I tried to copy some german frozen dinner which I liked a lot .. it is basically pastry pouches filled with mushrooms in cream ... very nice ... my copy did not turn out too bad .. though 3 times in size and just not the exact flavor ... while I was cooking Ritsu watched Twister and I enjoyed the really spectacular surround soundtrack !