From Sophie in London
The boys have landed….. hooray! Yesterday afternoon Ben, Jane (representing Tourism Fiji) and I headed to Heathrow T3 to greet some very special, long awaited VIPs. A slightly jetlagged Tevita, Leavi, Marau and Api arrived after a couple of days sightseeing in Korea, along with our new adopted team members Charlie, Jim, Matthew and Jimmy – the band boys from Pacific Harbour. After some typically Fijian last-minute visa interview dramas it was a huge relief to see they guys on terra firma in London. The world continues to come to Vorovoro, and now Vorovoro has come to us. So, what do you do with 8 Fijian friends in the UK? After settling the boys in to their accommodation, we headed straight to a traditional English pub, of course!
Hidden on the banks of the Thames, down the river from Hampton Court Palace, everyone tucked in to bangers ‘n’ mash, pie and chips, and a refreshing pint. Given the location the guys were keen to hear learn about Henry VII and the local history along the river, check out the moored power boats, and completely bowled over by the sight of two enormous Afghan hounds on their evening stroll. “Is England full of big hairy dogs?” was Leavi’s response to the sight, though Api wants to know where all the other wild animals are. Monkeys, specifically. We spent a really fun evening sitting by the river (once the gang were fleeced up!) singing some songs, and having a good yarn. Tevita and Leavi also had a chat with Tui Mali who was delighted to hear that they had all landed safely. All the gang were up bright and early this morning. We were scheduled to leave for the site at 7am this morning, so up they got at 3am for morning baths and prayer. 3am!!! Hopefully once they are accustomed to the fact that it’s NOT too hot to work at 1pm they will be able to enjoy a bit more sleep. Though I think they might be internally hardwired to survive heavy grog sessions, a couple of hours sleep, and begin the work day at 6am!
We took a beautiful drive through the palace grounds, and everyone enjoyed the sight of deer, ducks and swans, and are already scoping out the best fishing spots along the Longwater, next to our spot in the grounds. After we blessed the building and ancestors in the traditional Fijian way (let’s face it, we don’t want any broken bones having angered Henry VII!) work began at an astonishing rate.
It’s wonderful to be witness the energy and teamwork these guys show, and my cheeks are hurting from all the laughter so far. The frames of the four bures that will be the centrepiece of our ‘village’ had already been erected by a local team, and the roofing reeds (flown in from Fiji) were ready and waiting to be laid. Whilst this is a laborious and lengthy process in Fiji, involving lashing the bundles of reeds to make the thatch, we’ve been provided with flattened dried palm panels – another traditional Fijian technique for roofing. Having had a good conflab over a cuppa and bacon sarnie, the boys set to it… but this is no Fijian construction site. Each man is kitted out with hard-hat, high-visibility jacket, gloves, and steel-toed boots and a metal scaffold tower takes the place of mangrove poles. Not a flip-flop or machete in sight! But thankfully the familiar whooping, laughter, and friendly teasing have been abundant. You can take the boy out of Vorovoro, but…..
No word of a lie, by morning tea the roof of the largest bure was nearly completed before anyone had the chance to even break a sweat, and we hope to have all the major work completed by Saturday, leaving plenty of time for sightseeing and socialising. Speaking of socialising, come along to the Dream Foundation Picnic on Sunday 28th June in Hyde Park, if you can.
Grub, grog, guitars! What more could you want? Marau, Leavi, Api, and Te will be there and are all looking forward to catching up with everyone. Tickets can be bought (until 6pm, Friday 26th) here http://www.eventbrite.com/search?loc=&q=tribewanted for £15 (£5 to cover your food and drink, with the remainder going to the Dream Foundation). What a week. Vorovoro’s Team Fiji arrive in the UK, as Tribewanted:Andina sets off on it’s first trek in Peru. Thank you for being part of Tribewanted…. this trip is a dream come true for our friends, and it’s down to each individual’s involvement that it’s been possible. Vinaka vaka levu!