If you’ve read previous posts you will know that getting things done here can be challenging. Not getting things done is frustrating, and today has been a not getting things done day. Since I have no Fiji Bitter in the fridge to help ease the frustration, I thought I’d bash the blog instead. So, here are a few ways to waste your time in Fiji…..
1. Buy Some New Tyres
In the UK Kwik-fit can fit you a spanky set of new tyres in about 7 seconds. Not many people know this but all the pit-crew in Formula 1 racing are actually Kwik-fit trainees doing work experience. Here in Taveuni it took me 8 weeks to order, take delivery of, and fit four new tyres. If I drove a Lamborghini I might expect to wait for a special delivery, but a Suzuki Jimny ?!?! My first attempt at ordering was thwarted when I visited the supplier 3 weeks later and he said he could only give me two. I pointed to the car and counted the wheels (numbers 3 and 4 voiced slightly louder), and left in a fit of rage waving my car keys above my head, then drove away slowly because my tyres were bald.
2. Buy Some Hardware
Hardware is hard work. Most readily available tools are poor quality, and the good quality ones are very expensive if you do find them. More recently the cause of much frustration has been timber products. Right now we have a shortage of plywood in Taveuni, and Fiji as a whole, variously blamed on recent cyclones, tsunamis, inefficient price control, and aliens. A fortuitous meeting a couple of weeks ago resulted in me being able to bag 25 sheets of good quality plywood that had been hidden away in someones shipping container. A few months earlier I was not so lucky with weatherboard. Six promises of delivery over a four week period resulted in me storming out of the hardware store in rage waving a garden hose fitting above my head and promising to never return. And I haven’t. The dog chewed up the hose fitting last week. She will pay.
3. Make Important Calls On Friday
Make any phone call to anyone in a position of authority on a Friday afternoon and they will likely be unavailable. They will have left the office early and be be preparing for the evening kava session, if they’re not already drinking it. They may be drinking it in the office and ignoring your call. Don’t leave a message (see 5). Don’t call on Monday (see 4). Call back in a fit of rage on Tuesday.
4. Make Important Calls On Monday
Make any phone call to anyone in a position of authority on a Monday morning and they will likely be unavailable. They will not have made it to the office after drinking kava all weekend. If they have by some miracle made it to the office they will be unable to function. Don’t leave a message (see 5). If you rang on Friday you will likely be enraged. Call back tomorrow.
5. Wait For Someone To Call You Back
If anyone says they will call you back, ask them which country they are in. If they say Fiji, do not believe them. All phones, except yours, are seemingly barred from making outgoing calls. Every weekend here Vodafone have a special “double-up”, “triple-up”, sometimes up to “7-up” promotion, whereby you receive additional free credit for your prepay phone when you top-up. This free credit is specifically for you to waste your time calling unavailable people and leave a message for them to call you back, or to wait on hold over the weekend until they return on Tuesday.
6. Visit The Bank
This is the actual trigger for writing this post. Bank managers are elusive creatures here, rarely available, and probably listed as an endangered species. They hide in back offices then sneak out the back door when work threatens. What seemed like a reasonable request for some important paperwork at a meeting five weeks ago has required me to visit the bank in person a further three times and e-mail three times for an update, all of which have garnered no response. Today, on my seventh attempt at contact, I was in luck and invited into the back office. Nothing had been done. I pointed out the fancy poster about Customer Service as I left, but missed the Customer Complaint form which I could have waved above my head in a fit of rage for a more dramatic exit.
So, six ways to test your tolerance of Fiji Time. I was going to do ten, but Greys Anatomy starts in 3 minutes, and 781 words is enough for this post.
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Images of some of the devastation on Taveuni caused by Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston which hit Fiji on 20th February 2016 with peak winds of 298kmh