Once we got back from our South Sea Island weekend the crazy really began. We headed down to our favorite guy in the handicraft market - Max in Stall 4.
We have visited Max likely too many times (but we did come in underweight....). He always had the best quality carved items. Max is super fun too....he will demonstrate just how a neck breaker works!
Outside the market - I love the murals of Fiji painted on the walls there.
The kid's school celebrated their 45th anniversary with a number of events. My favorite was this photo ISS posted....the kids group together to make a 45. Can you find Mason and Clarissa in the photo?
The Former Ambassador to Fiji, Judith Cefkin, retired. The day before her departure, a traditional Fijian farewell ceremony was held. I got caught in the background of a photo of her cutting the cake. I'm in the white sula jaba!
The CLO (aka me!) planned and put on the Easter party (with a little help from AWA). The party was a couple weeks before Easter, since as soon as the term break starts everyone scatters. There was craft prepping I had to do that week (fingerprint animal bookmarks and decorate your own cookies...both wins!) as well as egg stuffing (luckily some others at the embassy volunteered their time to help). Of course there was the easter egg hunt and visit from the fuzzy bunny!
Girl on a mission! I love that I caught her mid-air in this shot!
Now, don't worry....Mason hasn't deemed himself too old for Easter parties (if so I would have recruited him to hide eggs or something). Nope - right before this, Mason had his Year Eight class trip. It was sort of bittersweet/symbolic that 2 weeks after our arrival into the country he went on the year 6 trip and now just a few weeks before our departure he took his year 8 trip. It almost made bookends of his time in Fiji. For years 6 & 7, they stayed on Viti Levu...but year 8 they ventured to a different island! They went to Ovalau Island in the Lomaiviti Group to the east of Viti Levu. They stayed in the town of Levuka, Fiji’s first capital (which just happens to be a Unesco World Heritage Site as of 2013). The class left on Wednesday and returned on Saturday (catching the 6am ferry back). So Mason wasn't back in time for the Easter party. Here are some photos his teacher had posted.
They stayed at a church and Mason said it was the nicest place of the three camps. Indoor bathrooms and hot water! It was also facing the ocean so it had amazing views and they went swimming.
Lest you think camp was all fun and games, they did have to split into groups and each group was assigned a meal to prepare for the rest of the class. Calculating amount of ingredients needed to feed 50 people is a good life skill! During the day, they were loaded up into local transportation and taken to help village schools.
Which I am amazed at how many students fit in there!!
They did have a bit of a history lesson while there. Levuka (the town) was once the capital of Fiji. Naturally they went to the monument honoring of the Deed of Cession. The deed was signed in 10 October 1874 and officially established the Colony of Fiji. For the next 96 years, British rule was followed (according to the Wiki).
Sacred Heart Catholic Church - in addition to being a church it is also a lighthouse for guiding ships into the port!
The Monday after the Easter party/Mason's camp our pack-out began. When the movers where at the house, we locked in IsaLei in a room with our suitcases and passports....don't want those on the slow boat!! In the evening, she would inspect the movers work.
Sadly, the day came to sell
Just like that.....all the hard stuff was done. Now I just had to knock out all the to-do's at work before I was done. Sadly, my replacement was still waiting on her clearance....which meant I had to try and plan things out through the end of the summer.
The Friday after pack-out, we put together a chili cook off. It went really well and we were able to raise money from drinks for the Embassy Local Staff fund (it had gotten depleted as there was a number of deaths and the departure ceremony for Ambassador Cefkin). Luckily, it was typical rainy day - so perfect chili eating weather!
The winner above...she decorated their table with a Fijian theme. Another table (below) had Dr. Pepper!!
There were 13 entries....so that means lots of tasting and eating.
Kids even partook.....in the eating part.
One of the last foods left in the house (that we kept ordering....they deliver!!). Tasty Island Treats! So good! If you are in Fiji, you need to follow her - she typically posts what flavors will be available mid-week. You message your order and then they are delivered on Saturday. The flavors change week to week as it depends on what is in season. The main ingredient is coconut milk....soooo yummy, I'm craving one right now! Our two favorite flavors were
During the last week of classes, we held a farewell/goodbye party. The kids also had personalized invites for their classes......we had quite the gaggle of people show up.
Clarissa and her friends hung out at the pool (until sunset when it closed, then they just ran around....sigh I will miss free range parenting).
Clarissa's friends mom, got this awesome photo of the two of them!
Mason had a huge group of friends. Sadly, I think they were expecting us to buy all the pizza's (like we did for Mason's bday), but they pooled their money and were able to get a few....oops....there's always that fine line......
Here's a group of us Embassy parents (who's kids are who know where...lol). As I write this, only five of those people are still posted in Fiji, with two more leaving in another month. As we say in the Foreign Service, it's not good bye, but see you later....you never know when paths will cross again!
That next day was Friday and the last primary assembly. Which was a moment Richard and I were dreading. The school sings a beautiful farewell song to the kids leaving within the next week, they get a shell necklace put on the student leaving by the 1 or 2 friends they bring down with them. When we first arrived at post - you think aww, that's sweet. Mid-way through your tour - oh wow, I know that kid can't believe they are leaving already. This last term, I couldn't go to any assemblies because just thinking about it got me teary-eyed.
Clarissa's class also made her a little farewell book. Each student wrote her a note and they bound it together. Her teacher posted this photo of her class farewell.
For his last week of school, Mason wore his PE shirt and had his friends all sign it with sharpie (that was fun to iron/wash EVERY night!). Mason's class had a little ceremony, but nobody let me know the when/where. His teacher sent pictures though.....
Sigh...of course he got this after packout....hopefully we can preserve it with out completely squishing it in our luggage.
I had my final book club (we'd always go out to eat when someone was leaving). At one point there were 12 of us.....slowly we are moving all away.
Richard's boss hosted a farewell for him too. His staff got him a Tanoa bowl and a Lali drum. The story behind the Lali drum was awesome. Within and between villages, Lali drums are used for communication. Since the IT department does communication, it seemed natural to get him a Lali drum!