Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Exploring Suva

I'm pretty good at getting out and about on my own, but some things are just more fun with others. One of the things I've been doing this year is planning events for the American Women's Association here in Suva.

AWA was founded in the 1980's and is a non-profit volunteer-run organization. Among other things AWA provides social activities that enhance friendships and personal development. While AWA embraces the American culture, membership is open to anyone regardless of nationality. Members come from all over the world and bring with them a wealth of knowledge and interests.

Here's are the activities I've organized so far this year for AWA:

Suva Municipal Market Tour. 
Meet the AWA group at the Flower Stalls at the south east corner of the municipal market (closest to Tappoo City). The tour will go through the upstairs spice and yaqona stalls, outside through the vegetable and fruit vendors, around the seafood sellers and conclude at the back of the market near the tailors. Each attendee will receive a reusable shopping bag compliments of MH Flagstaff.

Scuba Dive. Certified Divers Only. 
Meet the AWA group at Suva Scuba on the Royal Yacht Club grounds. We'll gear up and leave at 10:00 for Navakavu Reef. This is a marine protected area and is home to numerous turtles. The reef itself is undercut by the prevailing SE swell. This, combined with an earthquake in 1953, dislodged the reef edge causing a tsunami to shoot across the bay and onwards to Kadavu island.  The remnants of this can still be seen as huge reef slabs sitting at the base of the wall in around 60-70' (20-25m). There are also several crevasses where the reef crest did not completely part company from the main reef body.

Movie Night at Damodar Event Cinemas 50 Shades of Gray.

Are you all tied up in knots about Tuesday's night's showing of 50 Shades of Gray? Don't be! Here's the plan:

Check in at Damodar Event Cinema anytime before 8:00 PM. Choose your seat from one of the groupings held for the American Women's Association. Then come into the Premium Lounge and join the rest of our movie night group.

At 8:00 our Guest Speaker Roshika Deo will facilitate a fun and interactive Q&A session about the book 50 Shades of Gray and the BDSM lifestyle. Ms. Deo is an Attorney and Consultant at the International Center for Advocates Against Discrimination (ICAAD) Her review of the 50 Shades of Gray books was quoted in the Fiji Times "(T)here however also needs to be spaces and avenues for open and frank discussions on the subject of BDSM, sexuality, intimate relationships and domestic violence, which she believes is lacking in Fiji." Don't worry that the discussions might stray into your red zones, there will be plenty of discreet ways to interact without crossing your boundaries. In addition, the more questions you ask, the more chances you'll have to win a door prize. If things get too intense, use your safe word.

Spoken English Practice & Coffee. 
Join us and meet Native English speakers and learners in a friendly, casual atmosphere.  We will have formal and informal introductions and everybody gets a chance to talk. The conversations are fun, relaxed, and are organized by a native English speaker. Your facilitator will make sure everybody is talking and learning English conversation skills.

Waterfall Hike Colo-i-Suva Park 
This hike ended up not happening as scheduled because of TC Pam.
If Colo-i-Suva Forest National Park were anywhere else in the world, it would be overrun with visitors. As it is, it's relatively unknown, even to us locals. This lush rainforest park is an oasis teeming with vivid and melodic birdlife and tropical flora. Among the wildlife are 14 different bird species, including scarlet robins, spotted fantails, Fiji goshawks, sulphur-breasted musk parrots, Fiji warblers, golden doves and barking pigeons. Our group will take a mountainside trail that leads to the lower natural pool. Once there, we'll be able to relax and swim in a cool, clear mountain pool before hiking back to our cars at the lodge.

Easter Eggstravaganza 
We’ll have a crazy-fun egg hunt and Easter crafts for the kids. Sponsored by US Embassy CLO & AWA

Spoken English Practice & Coffee. 

Sulu Jaba Excursion. $30 + cost of material, price includes a custom made sulu jaba made from the material you choose (material is purchased separately).

The April meeting of the American Women's Association is scheduled for Thursday, April 30 at noon in the US Embassy. What better way to welcome our new US Ambassador Judith Cefkin to her post in Fiji than with a friendly Bula Vinaka from the women of AWA in our festive bula wear?

A Sulu Jaba is the traditional Fijian two piece outfit. It consists of a fitted tunic over an ankle length skirt in matching or coordinating fabric. The most traditional sulu jabas are made of 100% cotton and have a knee length top over the ankle length wrap skirt. Modern interpretations are limited only by your imagination and the skill of your tailor.

This month's activity has two parts: first we'll visit a fabric shop guided by a local designer. At the fabric shop we'll learn about different natural and synthetic fibers and how they affect the weight and drape of a material. We'll also learn about Pacific Island design motifs and how the repeat of the pattern affects your buying decisions. Our guide will help you select a sulu jaba design that fits your personal sense of style and help you select a fabric that will work well with your chosen pattern.

Your sulu jaba will be ready in 7 days, you'll arrange for a fitting and pickup date during your initial visit.

Your fee of $30 includes your trip to the fabric store, design consultation, and the sewing of your sulu jaba. Material is purchased separately. You can also bring 4.5 meters of your own fabric to have your sulu sewn. Please note that the $30 cost does not include the cost of the fabric.

If you're interested, please respond by email with your name and your cell phone number. If there is still space available you will receive a confirmation email with details about how to prepare for your visit and our meeting point. Space is very limited, so please RSVP quickly if you plan to join us for this outing.

Fiji Rum Co. Tasting
Have you seen the lineup of Fiji Rum Co. Rums?

Banana Rum - Coconut Rum - Coffee Rum - Golden Honey Rum - Rum Liqueur - White Chocolate Rum - 2 year old White Rum - 8 year old Rum

Have you tried them all?

Please join the American Women’s Association for an introduction to the Fiji Rum Co. and their flavorful lineup on Tuesday, May 19 at 1:00 PM. Paradise Beverage’s Rum Development Manager Liam Costello will give us a history of spirits in Fiji and some background on the distillation and bottling process. We’ll hear about the Fiji Rum Co story and finish with a tasting flight of the distinctive Fiji Rum Co. rums.

Meet the Family
Thank you for your involvement in the American Women’s Association this year. By now you’ve seen how AWA helps you meet others here in Suva and get connected, now is your chance to introduce your family to the friends you’ve made in AWA.

You’re invited to a “Meet the Family” potluck. This will be on Sunday, May 17, starting at 2:PM with the meal beginning at 3PM. The pool is open and we’ll have some traditional yard games like cornhole, bocce, and yard yahtzee available as well as a movie room for the tweens and a playroom for younger children.


Q: Can I come even if my family isn't in Fiji?
A: Of course!

Q: Can I bring a guest?
A: Yes, we do ask that you each bring a dish for the potluck if you are coming with a guest. There's a spot in the signup for you to indicate how many people are coming in your group. This is a family home, so attendance will be capped once we hit capacity.  

Q: Will there be alcohol at this event?
A: This will be a BYOB event. Coolers are available onsite.

Q: Oh no, I hate to cook! Can I come without bringing a dish?
A: Please come as we want your company most of all. If you are in a rush before the potluck or just don't enjoy cooking, never fear. Perhaps you could stop by the market and pick up some seasonal fruits that you bring home, rinse, and maybe chop and serve with a little bit of lime juice? Another good idea may be to pick up hummus and a whole grained bread. Or what about a liter or two of a delicious ice cream?

Q: What's the dress code?
A: Casual!

Q: I'm on your mailing list but I'm not (yet) a member - can I come?
A: We would love to meet you! Feel free to come to a few events, but please consider joining the group.

Q: Is parking available?
A: Our host family live in the Domain area. The homes on their street have 24 hour security and there is ample parking in the cul-de-sac leading to their home.

Q: Is there a rain plan?
A: Our host family's home includes a large covered porch, well fenced pool, a sloping front lawn and an ample back garden, all of which lend themselves easily to indoor and outdoor activities.

Q: I have yard darts, can I bring them?
A: Please feel free to bring SAFE pool and outdoor games and toys. You may want to label them to make sure they go home at the end of the afternoon. And please, leave the yard darts at home.

Q: My dog is my family, can I add Rover to my RSVP?
A: Please leave the pets home this time.

Sustainable Seafood. An Ethical Fish Buying Guide
Patricia of Pacific Dialogue Ltd (a local NGO) is a fisheries scientist. She will lead a guided tour through the Suva Fish market the morning of Friday, June 12 and answer questions such as What is 'sustainable' seafood?; Where do we find these fish?; Why have they have this colour; this shape?; which ones are safer to buy?

There is no charge for this event, but Patricia does ask for donations to the NGO she supports (Pacific Dialogue). The NGO's  mission is to promote dialogue and education on human rights and good governance issues in Fiji and the Pacific as a means to resolve conflict, develop understanding and uphold basic human rights.

We're almost at the halfway point in the year. I'm looking forward to what the rest of 2015 will bring.

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