Saturday, June 27, 2015

Day Ten - DYING

Whoever said a goodnight's rest is all you need is clearly wrong. My eye "looks like a gecko" according to Chase. thanks Chase.(insert middle finger emoji) I have pink eye in Fiji, but I'm hanging in there (barely). I got some eye drops flowing and some drugs in my system. My eye is looking loads better. Lisa brought me some cereal in bed. After a warm shower, I made an appearance with my gecko eye. Today was chill. everyone had time to edit and sort through their pictures. I finally got to upload my blog. Uploading pictures took FOREVER. we also picked our 3 best pictures for the critique we did after dinner. I played connect four with chase. The Nat Geo expert Ula arrived! She's so cool and it was awesome to hear her thoughts on our pictures. It was really cool to see everyone else's top pics from the trip. My low today was my eye but my high today was when Jamison and Chase gave me their fries at lunch. Shoutout to holly and Ula for getting me eyes drops. Oh and the ice cream here at Mango Bay is off the charts amaazzinggg.
I beat Chase a lot at connect four 

a photo of us circled up on the beach doing our highs and lows of that day
CC and ice cream!!!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Day Thirteen - Hiking, Mud Baths, and Presentations

Today was our last full day. We started the day early with breakfast at 7. After breakfast, I had a chance to meet with Ulla, the nat geo expert, and decide/choose my top 10 photos for my final presentation. Initially, I was worried what Ulla would think of my photos because she is so talented. Ulla was impressed by the composition of my photos and the vibrant colors in my photos. She said I had the best photo-composition out of the group. That was really cool to hear her feedback. After everybody got a chance to meet with Ulla, we set out for the day’s adventure. We went to a village and had to bust out the sulu’s. I thought we were done with those.. smh. Of course we had to be welcomed into the village with a Kava ceremony when we met the chief. Kava tastes like dirty water. I don’t understand why Fijians are obsessed with it. We went on a hike up to a little waterfall. It was nothing compared to the waterfalls we went to on day three. I didn’t really feel like swimming and getting wet but we still took a few pictures on the rocks with the flag. The worst part of the hike was that I could not for the life of me find my Chaco’s anywhere, so I was forced to wear flip-flops. Don’t worry it gets worse. There was horse poop every five feet along the trail. Honestly the trail was so small and so uncivilized I don’t even understand how the horses got to such narrow places to dump. Whatever.  On the way back down, Mrs. Simon slipped and fell and it was hilarious. When we got back to the home base area where we started, we had another not edible lunch. Classic. I had 2 pieces of pineapple and that’s all. Our next activity was something I’d never done before. We arrived at this mudbath place. It was so fun and weird and awesome. They had buckets of mud to lather up. It quickly turned into a mud fight, which was of course awesome. Jacob was covered from head to toe in mud. People had mud literally all over their bodies. We took pictures with the Nat Geo flag and Lisa and Brett made Chase and I be the models because we are always the ones laughing the most. The mud dried and it was hard to move, so thank goodness we were smiling we put it on our faces. I felt like I had Botox or something. After finishing that photo shoot with Lisa and Brett, we had to get in the rinse off the mud pool. The bottom was DISGUSTING. And I had to stick my head under mud water to get the handprint of mud out of my hair (thx Chase). After we got most of the mud off, their was a separate mud pool for cleaner people. This one was boatloads better because it was warm and had a rocky bottom. Holly Hartman did not let us put mud on her (lame), but she did get in the second pool. Mrs. Simon didn’t get in at all. Classic. We had handstand contests under water and also had chicken fights. Lisa and I totally won. Around 5ish we got back on the bus and headed back to Smuggler’s Cove. On the bus ride back, I played monopoly on an app with Alex Cooper and Chase. I was the thimble, so that’s probably why I lost. When we got back, we ate dinner and they surprised us with a cake. Then they came and sang the ISA ISA song. That song gets me every time. After dinner we got to hang out and do whatever we wanted. We got to present our final projects to the whole group. Our final projects consisted of our top 10 pictures from the trip. It was amazing seeing everyone’s finest pics and hearing what everyone learned. What I learned on this trip was that photography is way more than just taking a quick picture of someone or something. Photography involves a social skill that requires connecting with people, learning their story, and then making the picture. After dinner and presentations, I spent time on the beach with my friends doing light painting and hanging with Ulla and listening to her amazing stories. I started to feel really sad that the trip is coming to an end.

Top Row left to right: Claire, Bora, Mariam, Elizabeth, Meghan, Chase, Ulla, Alex Long
Bottom Row left to right: Jamison, Katie, Madiha, Jacob, Lucy, Grace, and Alex Cooper
Chase giving me a mud hug

the second mud bath that had a friendlier bottom. 

photo of first mud pool. photo by Lisa Hornak

the village we visited. chase and i are holding up walking sticks they cut for us. Well, I stole Ms. Hartman's stick when she left it behind. 
Bora and I smiling by the mud pool. 

In Fijian, "moce" is pronounced "Mothe" and it means goodbye or goodnight.

Day Twelve -Sparks Fly

Today we packed our bags and left Mango Bay. SIDENOTE: my eye is pretty much all better, and I got to wear contacts for the first time in a few days, which was nice.  We got a huge bus to our next and final stop at Smuggler’s cove in Nadi.... Everybody got to have their own row which was pretty nice to stretch out. On the bus, we played the app Heads Up again, which provided endless entertainment. The best part was when Chase was trying to act out the bunny hop and he hopped so high that he hit his head on the ceiling of the bus. Even Holly Hartman likes to play. The bus ride was a little over two hours. Today we discovered little bites all over my legs. I blame my insufficient mosquito nets at Mango Bay. When we finally got to Smuggler’s, we dropped our bags and went to dinner. All of the interesting events happened after dinner. Ulla did a presentation of how she narrows down her pictures when she creates a photo story. All of her pictures were from the day she spent with us yesterday. Yesterday she took over 4000 pictures and she narrowed it down to about 15 or 20. That was really cool and interesting to see how she did that and how she picked her pictures. After the presentation, we did highs and lows on the beach. My high at that time was playing heads up and Ulla’s presentation, however the best part of my day occurred after. After we dispersed to do our own thing, Chase Liz and I decided to do some light painting on the beach. I went back to the girl’s room to grab my tripod, and I saw some random girl in my bed. She had moved my backpack, luggage, and water bottle from my bed. I was very confused and disturbed. I informed Lisa of this situation and she took care of it. Jacob and a few others tagged along for light painting. Ulla found us and helped us by suggesting including a palm tree in the picture, and it ended up looking pretty cool. Ulla is going to post the picture on instagram. Can I get a tripod creds?? or nahhh… after we finished light painting, we ran into Lisa. Lisa was planning on going for a midnight-dip in the pool and said we could join her. We raced back in our suits and we decided to all do cannon balls into the water. Unfortunately I landed on Lisa’s head, but she’s all good. After that, a hotel dude came outside and told us the pool hours, and we got in trouble. This was pretty hilarious because our Nat Geo leader got in trouble with us. Gotta love lisa. I got back to the girls room and borrowed lucy’s phone charger and converter because I brought the wrong kind of converter and someone stole my charger. Lucy’s converter was very complex and I couldn’t seem to figure out how to work it so I called Claire over to my bed.  Claire plugged it in and stuff and we heard this weird sound coming from the charger. All of a sudden Claire said it smelled like it was burning. Next thing we know, BOOM. The charger just blew up. Claire was so scared that she fell off the bed. We were trying to be quiet because everyone else was sleeping, but at that point it was pretty hard. So basically I owe lucy a new phone charger, Alex - 22 dollars and grace - 70 dollars. Mom.. can you bring those to the airport. :/ today was hilarious and great. I really loved getting to spend time with Ulla, and learning from her about photo stories. I didn’t really have any lows today.

Holly playing heads up with us
aftermath of lucy's charger explosion

The random girl in my bed. (she got moved, don't worry)

Chase, me, Lisa, and Jacob cannon-balling in

Monday, June 22, 2015

Day Eleven - Stop, it's hammock time ft. Ashlie Simon

Today was another pretty chill, but fun day. We boarded a boat at 9:30 am, and went on a boat ride to another village. This village was far more advanced than the village we stayed in. For starters, it had a bigger population so it had more houses. It even had a school. We got to go in a classroom of the school and all of the kids sang to us.. FUNFACT: today I learned that Fijians don’t say trapezoid; they say trapezium. Ulla came with us on our adventure today, and she takes pictures of literally everything. I always wonder if she ever takes a bad photo. She’s awesome. After leaving the village school, we were given about an hour to do whatever we wanted in the village and meet back at 1. Chase and I separated from the group, and we decided to go find someone to connect with and learn about their culture. We stumbled upon a woman in a house weaving a mat. We did rock paper scissors to decide who would ask her if we could join her in her home. I ended up losing so I had to ask. She kindly welcomed us into her one room home. We sat on the floor with her at first and just watched her fingers fly through the strands. TBH I have no idea what her name was because I have no idea what she said. We took some dank shots of her and her hands rapidly weaving the mat. I guess we were both mesmerized by her weaving skills because we checked the time and had to go. When we got back to the group I thought about how the boat ride was going to be long and I REALLY had to go to the bathroom. So I made lucy come with me to find a bush somewhere figuring it would be the same quality as a village toilet. A villager saw me go into the bushes, so I didn’t want to just go right there so I tried to play it off by smelling some leaves. Lucy was laughing at my cover story when the lady asked me if I wanted to go to the bathroom. Just wait it gets worse. So she leads me to this outhouse, which only made me happy because it was teal. So I get in there and try to lock the door which was a struggle and then there was no toilet paper. But the worst part was trying to UNLOCK the door. It was shut and I was calling out to lucy for help even though she could do nothing from the outside to help me. I had to hit the lock with extreme force and finally it flew open. At that point, all I really wanted to do was escape the village on this island. Thank god we left right after that in the boats. Following the bathroom mishap, we went to a little island for lunch and for the rest of the day. Mrs. Simon told Bora that she would give him 20 bucks if Bora ate the eye of the fish. All for it, Bora downed the fish eye and nearly vomited. Mrs. Simon said it was worth every penny. Brett climbed into a tree and pulled a snake off the branches. (like it’s casual) I sat in a hammock chair with Mrs. Simon (I still don’t really know how we both fit in the one person hammock chair). We watched videos of her dogs on her phone because she has SIX dogs. Oh mrs. simon. Later we all played volleyball, and my team blamed Brett for every point that we missed or messed up on. On the way back from the island to Mango Bay, we all played the app Heads Up, and it was hilarious. Also, on the boat ride back, Jamison ALMOST caught a fish, but the line broke, and it was really sad because he was really sad. Back at Mango Bay, I had a milkshake and two servings of ice cream. After dinner, Ulla did her presentation of her photography story. It was inspiring and amazing. She has done a lot of dangerous things involving erupting volcanoes and has at one point burned off all her eyelashes. #anythingfortheshot. Ulla also did a lot of work involving mummification in Papa New Guinea. That was cool, but kind of freaky. Following dinner and the presentation, I played a game of pool with Jamison and Lisa. We lost because Lisa hit the 8-ball into the wrong pocket. SMH!! SMH. On the way back to my room, I turned my phone’s flashlight on because the pathway is not very well lit. I can’t decide if this was a good idea or not. I saw a million frogs on the path. Not little cute frogs. GIANT, UGLY, DISGUSTING, LUMPY FROGS. I was horrified on stepping on a frog or a frog jumping on me. I walked BAREFOOT on the path as if I was walking on eggshells. THEN, I saw this HUGE frog. Seriously, that frog was the size of my fist. I stepped to the side of it to avoid stepping on it, AND IT HOPPED ON MY FOOT. I let out a blood-curdling scream, and I am certain I woke up everyone in the entire resort. Oops my bad. It was terrifying. When I went to the outdoor bathroom to brush my teeth, I borrowed someone’s flip-flops and did high knees all the way there to scare./ avoid another frog incident. I was so paranoid about the frogs that I intensely tried to tuck in the corners of my mosquito net under my mattress, but honestly my mosquito net has so many holes that the only thing it would really stop from coming in is a pterodactyl … I can’t even.

playing pool with Jamison.

Notice the pretty rainbow in the background (photo by Ulla)
playing volleyball on the little island. we blamed Brett for every point

singing this land is your land on the boat ride back from the island

Photo by Ulla

Ulla noticed my love for teal

The infamous crab race which we all got way too into. 
Silly ice cream selfie with my leader Lisa

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Day Nine -WIFI, Mango Bay and Cathy Bottoms

Leaving Tovutovu. I did a little shopping before lunch and our flight today. Today we were finally headed to bigger and better things. (Warm showers and wifi). We got to the little hut of an airport in Taveuni and there was free wifi. It was fun to connect with a few of my good friends back in Htown and my siblings before getting on the 7 row flight. Our flight was again only about an hour. When I got on the flight I wiped out. I’m not even sure how.. I laughed at myself along with everybody else. Chase was like “FINALLY. I’ve been waiting for like a week for you to fall!!” and seriously of all places, I fell on the small plane. Not even slippery or wet. SMH. Midflight, Jamison tapped lucy who then tapped me to ask Lisa how much longer until we landed. I looked back at Jamison and the poor kid was red in the face with tears in his eyes. As soon as we landed on the little runway in Nadi, Jamison hopped off the plane and actually sprinted down the runway. It was perhaps the greatest sight ive yet to see in my life. Jamison looked like Forrest Gump running away from mean kids when Jenny yelled RUN FORREST RUN. Jamison ran so fast that he had to take his hat off because it was going to fly off. Lmao. Poor guy. But thank god he got to relieve himself. As soon as we got to the airport we got to meet up with CATHY BOTTOMS. That was the best part of my day besides Jamison running down the runway. HAHAHA. We got on our huge bus and were on our way to Mango Bay (2 and half hour drive). We took a little detour to an eco place or something. We saw parrots and iguanas and snakes. Kevin would have loved it. Kev, you would have been so proud of me! I led them put a snake around my neck! That was pretty dank sauce. finally when we arrived at mango bay they gave us drinks in the lobby and we were all in awe of the electricity and lights. Immediately Bora said, “This right here is a five star hotel”. Anything is nicer than sleeping on the floor in the village without lights and without wifi and without warm water. Dinner we delish and after dinner we watched Polynesians dance. At one point they asked for volunteers and of course I was up there dancing with Jacob, Chase, Brett, Madiha, Elizabeth and some other people. We did the Cha Cha slide. The only downside to my day has to be my eyes are red and swelling. Hopefully a goodnight’s sleep will have me good as new tomorrow. My highs today were seeing Cathy Bottoms and watching Jamison sprint to the bathroom.

Day Eight - Leaving the Village

We had to say goodbye to the villagers. I did not expect to cry or feel so sad to leave but that was one emotional goodbye. Not a dry eye in the place. I lost it when I saw Vao with hands covering his eyes talking to Ms. Hartman and Mrs. Simon. I came closer and saw Vao was bawling because he was going to miss us. I think part of what made it so sad for the villagers was that they had been preparing and expecting us for 6 months, and it was finally over. A lot of the kids missed the school bus on purpose in order to spend a few extra hours with us. I hadn’t seen Sala all morning, and I was worried I was going to leave without saying goodbye. We loaded our things into the vans before the big goodbye. I looked to the top of the hill and saw Sala with a huge smile on his face. He sprinted to the bottom and jumped into my arms for a big hug. All of us sat under the shed one last time and they thanked us for helping them and for staying with them. Then they sang us a farewell song that killed us. I turned around to see if I was the only one crying but sure enough every single kid had tears in their eyes. When the Fijians waved goodbye in their song everyone lost it again. They were all crying too, and it was so sad! When we finally managed to get in the vans at 10:30, (exactly one hour behind schedule of course) I saw Sala running up and down the sides of the van trying to stand on his tippie toes looking for me. When he finally found me in the back of the van, he waved and yelled BYE MEGHAN! It was so cute omg. The vans pulled out the village and tears streamed down everybody’s faces. We talked about how we couldn’t believe that we could be so connected and touched in such a short amount of time. I went in expecting to help them and make their village a better place, but I never expected them to touch my life in such a big way. When I said everyone was crying, I mean everyone. Yes ALL of the boys were crying too. On the bright side, it was a treat to come back to Tovutovu because we were all looking forward to sleeping on a real bed. We dropped our stuff, ate lunch, and set out for an afternoon of snorkeling. The water was freezing cold. Bora finally got to go swimming and get wet because it had been enough time since his surgery. the guide gave us a briefing before we went out in the boat. She said there was a 90% chance of seeing a shark. Fun fact: the biggest fish in a clownfish group is the female and the second biggest is the male. When the female dies, the male quickly turns into a female and becomes the queen of the clownfish. The guide compared this to Bruce Jenner. Lmao. The water was “refreshing”. ie I was shivering the whole time in the water. A lot of people swam in way too shallow of water and got cut my coral. Ha. I didn’t. I swam down really deep and might have popped a blood vessel in my eye.. for dinner we got to have american food, and it was the greatest pizza of all time. I seriously ate 11 pieces. Everybody was so wiped out from the day that nearly have the kids fell asleep at the dinner table. I was one of them. oh another fun fact: I finally found my passport and credit card that I have been missing for 4 days. And I found my upband that I thought I lost on the first day of the trip. Don’t worry, mom. Everything is coming back in one piece. Except for the sleeping mat. I ditched that ish at the village. I’ll miss my village friends, and all the laughs and dances and pure joy and sense of family I felt when I was there. My low today was definitely seeing Vao cry when we were leaving. My high today was dinner with the amazing view of the ocean. The best part was when Holly tried to explain the pronunciation of Fijian by saing YO G. like what holly….

Day Seven - Summer School

 We worked a lot on the foundation of the community center we were building. Today we leveled out all the dirt and I actually cant believe the progess we made in the three days we spent working on the phase one part of the project. After lunch we headed to the school that the kids in the village go to. On Thursdays they have sports day. we went inside some of their classrooms and talked to a few of the kids. When I left the room I said, “bye y’all” and they thought “y’all” was hilarious. I saw one of my favorite boys, Val, at school and he gave me a high five because he got all of his math homework correct that I helped him with. The kids were released from the rooms to enjoy their sports day. We played a couple of games of volleyball with them. There was one point that went on forever and we ended up losing the point, but it was still a blast because all of the kids were so into it and screaming and shouting. The headmaster of the school even joined the game. The energy from the little kiddos was amazing. After playing volleyball with Fijian kids, we went to a natural waterslide, but we were unable to go on it because the current was too strong. I was actually relieved because it looked dangerous. We went back to the village and I went to Rock Pool with a few Fijian kids and Bora and Jacob. Later we set up for dinner and finished the night with a dance party. It was hilarious and fun even though we were all exhausted. The Fijian boys asked all of the girls to dance so everybody was included which was awesome. Some people danced while others sat on the floor for another kava ceremony. The highlight of my day was watching Jacob have a dance off with another Fijian guy. No worries, all of it was captured on video. That was our last night in the village and our best one.

Chase and I acted as a human limbo for the little Fjian kids at the dance party on our last night in the village.