Fruits Of The Garden:
There is such an abundance of food on the property that each day I learn of another plant, healing herb, fruit or useful weed. Today I was given a green pumpkin (an important food product for the Fijians) by Anna, the caretaker’s wife, from the empty lot next to Chaldea (the name I have given my home). Apparently Cula, the Fijian who once lived here planted all types of herbs and food in the lot. She showed me the lemongrass (great for tea) and the red peppers (“very hot'” she told me). Yesterday, I tried to give some papaya to the Pete, the gardener. He looked at me as if to say, “Are you kidding me, they’re everywhere,” but he was kind and said, “no thank you.” His unspoken thought was absolutely correct. Papaya, breadfruit, coconut and leach nut trees line the roadways and their fruits are free for the picking. I put the excess fruit, coconuts, etc. in front of the property on the side of the road and it is always taken by the end of the day.
Last Saturday a Fijian woman and her daughter called, “Bula” outside my bedroom window. It was 6:30 in the morning. I woke up somewhat startled and the mother apologized and asked if they could pick some flowers from the yard. I did not know what flowers they were speaking of, but said, “Yes.” Twenty minutes later they came out of the lot with armloads of bird of paradise flowers to sell at the market. The vegetation on the lot is so vast that the flowers are hidden by the large leaves. I only saw the greenery, they saw the flowers underneath.
Kamal showed me a weed that when rubbed between the hands with a little spit becomes an coagulant to stop a bleeding cut or an antiseptic for bug bites. “What is it called?” I asked. “It is called fast growing weed,” he said. Whatever the name, it works. I have used it effectively. Its leaf is in the shape of a heart. That in and of itself says a lot. Kaukamea is the Fijian name. Latin: Vernonia cinerea Compositae, common weed, leaves crushed and applied to skin to prevent infection.
Fiji’s Greatest Abundance — Love:
I enjoy riding the bus with the children in the morning. They’re all dressed in their school uniforms, white blouses/shirts with the school crest on the pocket. The girls wear skirts and the boy wear shorts or sulus, the male version of the skirt. The abundance of skin shades, hair types and colors reminds me of the words to the song ‘Everyday People’ by Sly & The Family Stone (see above). But even more noticeable is the closeness of the people and the playful interaction of the children. When I took the bus from Santa Barbara to LAX, the first thing people did when they boarded was to place items in the adjoining seat to prevent another person from sitting down next to them. That does not happen in Fiji.
Although it is against the law to have passengers standing on a bus, the children have to get to school so the bus drivers disobey the rule. Fijians don’t have the personal space or physical boundaries of Westerners, so two or three children and adults share a seat made for two, while four to five share seats made for three. They slide over to make as much room as possible. The people standing move back as tightly as possible so everyone can get on the bus. There is no personal space but no one complains.
The children play hand games like rock, paper, scissors while the adults talk to the kids or to friends at the bus stops from the open windows. No one has a gameboy or electronic toy of any kind. There is a great abundance of love shared. People take care of and watch out for the children particularly the smaller, younger ones, pulling them in between the seats to protect them in the crowd. A woman gets up to give an older gentleman her seat and he places her child on his knee. Everyone is family. It doesn’t seem to matter if they are Fijian, Indian/Fijian, light skinned or dark.
They are all “Every Day People” sharing an abundant love of humanity.