Warren has gone back to work, so the girls and I are on our own for now. I am more motivated to learn to drive than ever before, because until I learn, we are stuck at our house...unless we take a taxi somewhere, which I am not sure I am ready to do yet. Warren will take me on Sunday to drive around the city when it is more quiet. I am still incredibly nervous, but I cannot stay trapped in the house forever. I am definitely someone who will go stir crazy....and so will the kids.
We had our orientation to the US Embassy yesterday. It is pretty cool that we have a built in network here with the embassy. I got an official badge, so anytime we want we can go onto the grounds to eat lunch, ride bikes, or even run. I am so relieved to hear that I can run there because it is guarded at all times, so I know I will be safe there. It is only a 2k path...so it could get old, but at least it's safe...and I think I can wear shorts there. The US Embassy is so close we can see the US flag waving from backyard by the pool.
They did an appropriate job of terrifying me. I learned there is a lot of robbery and petty crime here, especially if you are a target...which we are. The security officer reminded me that people here live with dirt floors and no appliances, while we look like we are living the life. He told me to just try to blend in and not look like an expat. Not exactly sure how to do that, since my skin color alone does not allow me to blend in. Obviously, I know not to walk around flashing money or talking on my (currently non-existent) cell phone. I do feel very safe in our house, which is a huge plus...but I do not want to stay locked inside all day. Warren pointed out that if I sat down with a security officer from Atlanta who went over every threat there, I'd be terrified too...which he is completely right. We just need to understand our surroundings and live in them....be cautious, but not live in fear. I guess that will come in time. I am sure it will.
We also met with the RN, who went over every health hazard you can imagine. I did not feel settled after speaking with her either. I learned that we need to wash all of our fruits and vegetables in a low dose bleach water blend in order to make them safe. (This is my next task of the day). Also, we learned that there was recently a huge sewage line bust into the rivers and oceans around Suva, so all fishing is off limits currently. She emphatically told us not to eat the fish right now. She also said this is the warm season, so many of the reef fish get to warm in the water which makes them poisonous to humans...even when they are cooked. She said if we just couldn't live without fish, be sure to check it's source and get frozen fish from elsewhere. So much for my visions of eating fresh fruit and fish all of the time. (I can still eat the fruit, to be fair.) The fish situation is temporary, but I have to say the images of fish poisoning are not going to easily float of out my mind. Don't worry though. We are eating. The girls have been obsessed with eggs. They eat at least three eggs a day. They are so good here! I also wonder if they are craving protein..
She went over dengue fever too...which is a disease from mosquitoes. I am so terrified of dengue that I need to keep my kids coated in DEET at all times. For some reason, I almost started crying when she spoke about dengue, so she eased my nerves by telling me they would take care of whatever happened. They really are so supportive. If we ever have to go to the hospital they come with us. We only see embassy doctors and nurses, unless there is a full emergency. If there is an emergency, we will get medically evacuated asap. If we have to call 911, they said also call a taxi or drive to the hospital because once you call 911 it will take them a long time to find an ambulance, so it is much quicker just to drive yourself if you can. The embassy will take all new families on a tour of the hospitals soon so we can become familiar with where to go in case of real emergencies. The nurse told me the kids were WAY more likely to get lice than any of the aforementioned diseases, as lice is a huge problem at the international school. Well, at least I know how to deal with lice. Been there, done that. We all have our appointments next week to update immunizations, etc.
So, after the embassy visit, we went home and Warren went to work. We passed the time by painting faces, picking and eating papayas, and playing in the pool. It turned out to be a really nice day. One of Warren's colleague's wife called me mid-day and asked to stop by. She and her teenage daughter were absolutely lovely. I am so grateful for their visit. They brought me some sweet treats and filled me in on their 7 years living in Fiji. Abby, the teenager, played with the girls in the pool while Michelle helped ease my anxieties regarding life here. She discussed with me all of the good places to exercise (yoga, gyms, etc), good places to buy long skirts, swim team for the kids, and all the ins and outs of the international school. She probably has no idea how helpful and needed she was in that moment. She is coming back tomorrow to take me on a tour of the city. They are moving in two weeks, but really just want to help us get settled. It was like an angel showed up on my doorstep just when I needed her! Even though they are moving soon, my huge take away is that I want to also be that person for newcomers. After I am comfortable here and know all that she knows, I too can be that "angel". I need to pay it back.
Today we are alone all day too. It's ok though. I have a schedule. Kindle time/Blog time. Wash vegetables. Make banana bread. Puzzle. Pool. Reading/Handwriting time. Art activities. Meet person who may help us out at home. Pool again. Make dinner together. Hopefully that gets us to Warren coming home! If this paragraph doesn't motivate me to learn to drive, I don't know what will.