Frequently Asked Questions
I will, over time, compile a list of Frequently Asked Questions (and their answers) here. Please feel free to ask stuff by sending email to email@example.com
1.) Where the heck is Fiji anyway?
Fiji, or "the republic of Fiji" is a group of over 300 islands in the South Pacific. Find more detailed info at the CIA world factbook website about Fiji
2.) How did you end up there?
My wife Ritsu got a job assignment here for 3 years (2002-2005), I am a traveling spouse (or as we say here, I am the kitchen bitch)
3.) Where did you live before?
New York City, where we got married in June of 2002.
4.) What is the deal with your online connection, why don't you just get a better ISP?
Short answer: there is only ONE ISP, which is Connect.fj and it is a government protected monopoly. Even though outside companies try to get into the fiji market place, by law they are not allowed to. And being a monopoly, this ISP can suck as much as it wants, since there is no competition. Technically Fiji could be far ahead, a cable connection does exist. Neighboring Island Tonga for example offers highspeed internet connection.
For a longer answer check this article I wrote on that topic.
5.) Then, how about regular (snail) mail?
Very slow, very unreliable. Takes 6 weeks to 3 months to send stuff to Fiji. On the other hand, I was able to send a letter to europe and it took only 2 weeks. Getting stuff by mailorder is pretty much out of the question. I tested amazon.com once, took 2 months for a book.
6.) SO, how is it like? Eternal sunshine and blue skies, sitting on white beaches, eating lobster all day?
Yeah, right ... the climate here is tropical, which means that it pretty much rains every day. When it does not rain, it is just plain humid. This humidity does ruin pretty much everything, it messes with your electronics, clothing and books start to rot, leather just disintegrates , and you feel like being in a sauna .. you sweat pretty much all day. (Don't I use the word "pretty" pretty often?"
The white beaches may exist somewhere in the west of the island, I suspect at those resorts where celebrities stay for 1000US$ a night. There someone must be combing the beach every morning (as I found out, they actually do) ... because otherwise the beaches collect a lot of stuff from the sea and don't look too pretty. Especially here in Suva, beach does basically not exist.
Seafood here is less than stellar, unless you get imported stuff from New Zealand. Lobster is expensive as anywhere in the world. I still think that the lobster special at Mo's Caribbean Bar and Grill in NYC is the deal in the world. There is some local fish, mainly Walu and Pakapaka, which can be very nice, but also chewy other times. We have been warned to be careful about Snapper, as it can contain some kind of toxin which the fish accumulated over its lifetime.
7.) Ok, stop bitching, WHAT are you guys doing in Fiji?
Believe me, we are not getting bored :) We are scuba diving as much as possible, we enjoy good food, which includes the few restaurants (no delivery service at all) and cooking together. We love watching movies together and the local movie theater is actually technically up on par with New York and the admission price of 2.50 US$ rocks compared to the 10US$ in NYC.
8.) How safe is Suva, wasn't there some coup going on?
Yep, there was in 2000. But since then it seems the political situation is pretty stable. But petty crime / burglary are common problems. When looking for a house, we were always checking for fencing and alarm system.
9.) What insects and other room-mates?
Be prepared! There is quite a big number of mosquitos around, and they love newcomers (and they may carry the Dengue virus). The best spray we have found so far is some australian stuff called "RID" .. I hear stuff brought from europe or the US has no effect. Then there are ants, plenty of them, finding whatever food you leave open in the kitchen, and in general they just love building little ant hills inside the house. Cockroaches here too, but it seems that we found an efficient antidote ... most of the ones i find are dead. Luckily flies are not as bad as in Australia. Then we keep hearing stories about bed bugs, which can infest your bed and bite a lot. Thus we hang out the bed stuff as often as possible.
Oh, and we have many cute geckos which are pretty harmless, but can sometimes be startling, especially when you find them in your Gin & Tonic glass. And then we have a small frog colony somewhere under the house. Ritsu enjoys luring them out by letting water run (the frogs think it is raining and they come out) ... I believe it could be around 20 of them.
10.) How about TV?
Well, there IS TV!!! yes, indeed! Basically: there is one channel (Fiji one) which plays mainly crap .. all day some stuff they get from BBc or asian culture channels .. some local news .... then there are 3 pay channels .. one is all Hindi, one is all Sport (Rugby and Cricket mainly) and then one with tons of National Geographic shows and some movies you would not rent at Blockbuster ... so .. not subscribing to that ... Some people have Satellite dishes .. no real idea what else they can get ... anyways .. bottomline: we never watch TV .. we just stick with our DVD collection!