Thursday, March 8, 2012

Awe Fiji - What a Very Different World

Let's start with Internet.  I have been living without it which is both good and bad.  Bad because I cannot get to share my experiences, good in that I woefully recognize my dependence.  The dependency is nearly as difficult to avoid as plastic.  In our immediate interactions with the people they seem poor in aesthetics, but rich in community.  They laugh easily, help transport each other the old fashion way, hitchhiking.  The land is lush with green everything against the backdrop of sharp angular volcano rock mountains.  Breathtaking.  The terrain is thick with plant life concealing small clusters of make ship huts sporadically dispersed along the narrow road side.  Thatched roofs are not uncommon atop wood square huts with glassless windows.  You can look through these homes and see the air moving through them.  Fresh air conditioning.  A simple life void of Internet for most.

We motor along on our four hour journey in a beat-up van on roads with barely enough room for two passing cars.  As we drive along in the morning hours, I see people sitting on their porches, on the side of the road, and at spars supplied vegetable stands.  I envy the time they have to think.  An activity I seldom get to experience these days.  On auto pilot, I flip from one demanding concern to the next, not having time to just simply think.  Somewhere between these two worlds there is a balance I would love to find.

This imbalance extends from our personal lives to what we take from the planet and then dispose of.  Petroleum taken from the ground is now floating on our waters in both oil spills and plastic.  Both upset the balance in nature.  This is part of why we are here in Fiji, but also to find out what the locals are doing with their plastics when they do not have the infrastructure to dispose of it.  For example, though we have bins in our rooms for recycling, they do not recycle here on the island.  So where does it go? We have learned what the poor people in this region are doing with plastics that is upsetting the balance of nature on another level.  And it affects all of us. To learn more about this you will have to wait until the movie comes out in the spring of 2013.

I also wanted to share with you our experience trying to get through customs, I heard my name over the loud speaker.   David Jones, John McIntyre from the BBC News, and I headed over to the security check.  As we waited we watched bags being opened to reveal smuggled dried fish, bags full products that might be for resale, and various other contents being confiscated.  They then start with John who rubs his hand through his thick seasoned hair as he explains why we have 10 different types of cameras in our possession.  I open my bag to explain why I have glass bottles and parts to our surface sampling device in my possession.  After about an hour we pack up our goods and are on our way.  It was a four hour drive from Nadi airport to Suva.  Upon arriving, I met Tonya Streeter, a world class free diver and who is a co-narrator of the film project.
Today we are packing up to take a ferry on into the night to catch our mother ship that will take us out to sea for 10 days.  There we will swim with manta rays, film interviews on board, and video our manta trawl as it samples the surface for micro plastics in the strata layer of the sea.

Due to poor Internet connections, this may be my last post over the next ten days.

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