Our next destination was Sote Village– the village where Auntie Lavenia and Auntie Sai are from. When we arrived, there were heaps of barefooted children running around with big smiles and orange lips– orange from mango skins. We were taken to this huge house with a giant living room where all 8 of us were going to be sleeping. It was a really nice set up and behind the house was yet another gorgeous view of green mountains. Of course the first thing we did after we dropped our stuff off was attend a kava welcoming ceremony. We all sat around a big bowl of kava and were initiated into the village. At the end, all the little children came around and bestowed us with flower wreaths attached to a sulu.
After all of the introductions, we finally get to go to the schools where the girls taught a class and the boys helped build a roof for the walkway.
The children were wild and full of energy, but eager to learn once materials were presented to them. I loved being able to read fairy tales to the 3rd grade class because they all got closer and closer to see the pictures and I saw on their face a genuine curiosity even though they have all heard the stories a million times before. After that class, I joined Elise in hanging out with the preschoolers who were absolutely adorable. They showed off their animal making noises with their meows, rawrs, and moos. When school ended all the children ran to the fields where they dragged us to play games with them. I forget how much energy children have… we played rugby, soccer, hand games, and all types of running around games. The feeling of community was so strong at Sote even within the children. Everyone played with everyone, and no one was left behind.
After an exhausting day at school, we were spoiled with the best foods. Auntie Sai made traditional Fijian dishes and she made a lot of it. Some of the children followed us back to the house we were staying at and we got to play with them some more. One little girl told me her name was “Wasanai” after I had asked her what her name was… it wasn’t until the second time we went to Sote did I realize her name was not “Wasanai” but that she was just repeating what I had said (wah sa nai= whats your name).
At night there was a huge kava/ performance ceremony where we danced with all the children. They were adorable and one little boy– Silosi had the best dance moves ever, actually a lot of the kids were killin it on the dance floor– it was super impressive. Then after we just hung out with each other and got to experience Olivia’s lovely snoring which was quite astonishing because she’s such a small girl. This was the first night I bonded with Chris and Matt as we all had boyfriends/girlfriends.
The next day we woke up and went to church.
After that some of the boys we met including Gee, Jerry, and Pate took us to the waterfall. On the way there we passed by a cow farm where we got to milk cows. Out of nowhere the young boy working there jumped behind one of the cows and caught it’s poop!! It was the grossest thing ever, but he had to keep the poop from splashing into the milk… The boy then had to catch one of the baby cows and he couldn’t get it to cooperate so of course Chris jumps the fence and goes to the baby cow, picks him up, and brings it to the boy like it’s no big deal.
After, we go to the water fall which looked like a staircase with ice cold water falling on top of it.
At night, there was a going away ceremony where once again we drank kava and danced with the kids. After that we hung out with the village boys and Val in our house.
The next morning, it was time to leave Sote. We got on a truck that looked like an army caravan and said goodbye to the crowd of children waving and shouting “Moce” (Mo thay).
Our first week in Fiji was filled with so many adventures and by the end of it I thought we had already been in Fiji for months. There were only 8 of us so we got real close, real quick and it was awesome… it was like living with one big family.