Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On

WEEKEND READING.  Scroll down to  
♦ The CCF's Suggested Way Forward
♦ People's Charter, For Discussion: Pillar 3 and Chapt 8 State of the Nation paper  ♦ Friday's and last week's posting and comments


 Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in Fiji. I thank Allen for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.

Living on an Island

I have some good friends who live in the Yasawa’s who have lived the way they are living for about eighteen years. They live about $70 from Lautoka. Tourists pay $120 for the same trip. I wonder why we have tourist and local prices. But that’s another story.

But this story goes like this. For drinking water they have 5 water tanks with a capacity of 35,000 liters. They are all elevated to the same level and contain only rain water. The reason they are at the same level is because when it rains they all fill at the same time and are all linked to each other. All the tanks have their own stopcocks and are joined to a main pipe. The reason being is so that they consume from one tank at a time. In the eighteen years that they’ve been living on the island they have never run out of water. They entertain friends and family but never run out of water. Notices placed in strategic places say, “Water is precious, use it wisely.” Back in the days when there were long periods of droughts they would run low on water but never run out. The Fiji Water Authority usually estimates water for households that have faulty meters at 60,000 liters for every three months. That too is another story.

For electricity they have a small windmill with eight inch blades, solar panels and batteries that store 500 amps of power. Their home has 12 volt energy saver lights and brighter lights at strategic places for reading. Their electrical appliances are mostly 12 volts except for those that need more power to run, they have an inverter to step up the power to 240 volts. Their washing machine and the charger for their mobile phones need a little more power. They have a AM FM radio, VHF radio, water pump – used to pump water to the roof tank for bathing, DVD player, TV screen, fridge with freezer and a freezer that all run on 12 volts from the batteries. They have 12 light bulbs and haven’t paid for electricity bills in eighteen years. The deep cycle batteries have a life of twenty five years and more if looked after properly.

For cooking they have gas and a nice fire place outside where they cook root crop, corn and other foods that take longer to cook. One of the best fire woods is the coconut leaf spine. Chopped up into 1 foot lengths and left to dry they burn well and give a lot of heat. They go walkabout on the beach and also fetch driftwood to dry for fire wood. They have a cassava and taro plantation; they plant vegetables and have a wonderful collection of pot plants. They have a lemon tree, baigan, bele grows wild and chilies are a sight to see. When asked what they do with glass bottles, I was told that it is crushed, taken out on their row boat and thrown into the sea. Glass is made from sand. Glass jars from jam and peanut butter are never thrown away. They are kept to store pickles, chilies, mango and such other stuff. As for plastic bottles, they are cut into reasonable sizes and use for pot plants. What some of us throw away or consider trash they put to good use. When walking along the beach they usually find unusual plastic and glass bottles. This they keep to line the lawn. They have a bowling green and coconuts filled to resemble bowls are used. Many visitors are amused when they see it. The bowling ball is heavy on one side and the coconuts are somewhat similar. Cans that are not reused are crushed and dropped into a pit and only buried when they have rusted. They never burn cut grass or leaves because they consider the nearest neighbours who live a mile away and because burning kills the soil. They have a compost heap where vegetable peelings and other food material is stored and used for manure.

Because the boat fare is so expensive they don’t travel often, but if they do run out of something, they call shops or the butcher or supermarket they deal with who pack and send the cartons on the boats. The freight is paid for on the island and the account is settled when ever they come into Viti Levu. During the rainy season they fill all bottles they have and store them for, like the chap said – “a rainy day”.

They hardly ever eat fried foods and have lots of pasta and foods that store for long periods of time. They stay active by cleaning their plantation, mowing the huge lawn, pot their flowers and have so many other things. They especially like to make pickles which are such a delight to eat. They have been preparing pickles for the past 20 years that they have perfected many different recipes. You will be wild eyed and wondering if you were to taste some of them. They have never shared the recopies and the only privileged people who have the knowledge are their children and grandchildren. Event thought they make a lot, it is never sold. They have a huge collection of old movies and those that are brought in by friends and books galore. They are mostly avid book worms. Whenever tourists wander over to their side of the island their share stories and the tourist always leave behind novels and movies that they brought to Fiji. They have a huge photo album with photos of people form all over the world in them. If a visitor is asked to sleep over he or she has a fantastic story to take back with them to whatever part of the world they return to.

Conservation, sustainability, environment friendly, love of nature and the simple life is what the always tell me. With children living abroad they often exchange their life styles with the old folk travelling to the cosmopolitan cities where their children work and reside in and their children come home to live in peace and tranquility. When the old folk tire of the hustle and bustle of the Brisbane, New Zealand or Honolulu, they return home to their island paradise. And as for their kids, it’s often hard to return to their place of work because there is so much to do on the island. Listening to the surf and the birds and the rustle of the wind in the trees brings so much peace of mind as they sit together as s family with just the flickering fire light and the grandkids playing in the sand. Ah and of course there is a bottle of wine if there is no yaqona. I have to travel to the island one day, when the cost of travel goes done. Commerce Commission and Consumer Council, are your there, would you like to go with me to the island?  Together we can write a book on how to live within our means and with nature and also check out the cost of travel to these islands.

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