Dreaded Suva Supply Run


We dreaded the trip to Suva to get supplies and materials for our workshop. From our idyllic, jungle home to threading through throngs of people and playing Frogger with city buses and taxis. The morning after arriving in Fiji's industrial and shipping capital, we were wishing that roosters were the only noise to awaken us. With Jim and mom's help we had done a lot of planning to make a workshop/storage room and thought we had our materials list ready to go. A few days became almost two weeks as it turned out to be a shopping nightmare. A lot of stuff that is standard for building is just not available here, and vital pieces needed for things such as our water catchment were just missing. 

After making the necessary design changes with a lot of calls back and forth to the US we could finally get a quote ...and we instantly began to rethink the project. The quote was about three times the price you'd expect if you had access to a Home Depot. Well, back to our original plan of just planting trees and having a permanent water catchment system in place for next time. Hey, we've already made a lot of progress on the planting at least! 

So, another redesign downgraded to a basic carport that could collect rainwater and divert it to the tank/s sitting underneath it.

By now the timing on everything was extremely short. It was closing time at the hardware superstore on Friday, and we still needed a new quote, had to check that materials were available, someone had to assemble and package a list of about a 100 items so it could all be shipped on the Monday ferry. We would have already spent a week longer in Suva than planned and really couldn't afford it. As a reminder, at our camp we're primarily foraging for fruit, tubers and veggies (and an occasional rooster haha!) -pretty close to zero dollars a month. But by the time we were done with the Suva trip we've spent hundreds just on motels, transportation and meals.  

We barely made the ferry back with everything. The morning of the ferry we got a call that the timber couldn't be cut and delivered in time, but with some pleading to our fantastic materials manager Bale she was able to make it happen. We were sitting on the ferry for a few hours waiting and waiting for the truck. Luckily the ferries never run on schedule an example of what people call "Fiji Time". We were extremely thankful for it, because the truck arrived about an hour and a half after the time the ferry was supposed to depart!

You hear it often from expats over here and you learn it firsthand: you have to celebrate each victory however small because the next defeat is right around the corner.

It was a relatively pleasant 10 hour ferry ride -especially considering our first horrible trip. 

The new island doctor was riding over for the first time, and happened to be a decent guitarist with a great voice. We swapped songs for a couple of hours and he mentioned how nice doing a year of medical practice on a small island like Koro, because he'll get paid relatively well and should have time to work on some of his songwriting and recording skills.


We were greeted by Koro's beautiful shoreline at sunrise. However, we were not greeted by the truck that was supposed to carry us and all of our supplies (in addition to Catherine and her things). Certainly there was some frustration by that point, though I wasn't too concerned because you really do just have to accept that here this type of thing is the norm. Somehow or other things will work out, but it did work out for the best. We met a driver with a truck who needed the fare. It turned out to be a relative of Lewai, so we have another option for transportation -though no one really seems to to want to head up the last couple of hills to our place. It took half an hour or so and an extra $50 for Penny the truck owner to feel like it was worth it to take his big truck up the final couple of hills. So another $250 and our materials  and us were delivered safe and sound back to our savage paradise up in the Koro jungle!    

Samantha Chappell