Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The taste of vakalolo

from w
From our safe little suburb of Newcomb in Geelong, we can still smell the sweet brown sugar of Fiji when Peceli uses his (secret) recipe to make vakalolo from coconut, cassava, taro, and brown sugar. Yum. But there's no sweetness about other aspects of life. I've been thinking about 'what do you do when things fall apart in city life'. Some people are losing jobs, can't keep up a heavy mortgage in the city, so what to do. My answer would be to go to a country town. Houses and rent is cheaper, people are friendly, and there's land to plant. Many people are making that kind of 'tree change' or 'sea change' - to the seaside. It might mean leaving friends and networks behind, but there's the opportunity to experience cleaner skies, less noise, land to plant all your vegetables and for some even have chooks and animals. It's not for us, though we have lived in several rural communities and I can say they were the best days of our lives - in Rakiraki in Fiji where our first two boys were born and we lived between a village and sugarcane farms, and at Hopetoun a Mallee town of wheat farmers and our boys (three by then) went to primary school.

Now when we think of people living in a city like Suva in Fiji, you just got to really think - is this the best place to live? There you have to pay for all your food (and today the Fiji dollar was devalued by 20% will will lead to higher prices for imported food). And the anxiety and stress and mayhem of interference by officialdom. Does the '4 and a half coup' of the past four days impinge on the lives of the country cousins? Less so, I am sure.

One Ratu (chief) has suggested that youth who don't have a job in Suva (which means young men and young women up to about thirty if unmarried!) should go back to their Fijian villages immediately. Forget the electricity (when it works), the running water (when the taps are not dry) the gyms, and go back and plant a food garden because in three months time many people are going to be hungry. Sounds good to me. If I was young again, I know that I would live in a Fijian rural community, start a plant nursery, flowers and vegetables and fruit, and live a subsistence life once again. All that walking between the sea and the main road certainly keeps one slender!



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