Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Kate's take on Labasa

from Wendy

I accidentally found a really cute website by a volunteer living in Suva. Kate writes spasmodically but with humour, intuition, on her site. Also, perhaps check out her letter from Fiji. Here is her take after a visit to Labasa!

'The last time I wrote was about going to Lautoka, a sugar making town on the west of the island I live on. Since then I have been to another sugar making town on the other main island of Vanua Levu (big land) called Labasa. Again amazing how different another place can be when it is only an hour’s flight north east of Suva. Labasa is basically a town with one main road that leads to the sugar mill and small roads coming off it where people live. It is dusty and drier than Suva. It also appears to be a muslim town with people wearing more traditional muslim attire. I went with a Rotuman, Fijian and Rabian (from the island of Rabi - looks Rotuman). Not only were we deaf and therefore signing in public but we were also different in skin hues from the majority of Indians. I found the staring hard work to ignore. People can stare a bit here in Suva because you do stand out a bit but the intensity was of a different level in Labasa. People would turn their heads, stop what they were doing, open their mouths, even make eyes at you. I mean we were a good looking group of people but I found it hard to take and even when I stared back or made an expression as if to say “yes?” the staring continued unabated.

'The staring is balanced out by the friendliness of people though. Everyone says hello and being deaf as well you get cheaper taxi fares and even free entry into nightclubs. I am sure by the end of the weekend, the whole of Labasa town knew that there were 4 deaf people from Suva staying at the Takia Hotel and that two of them went to a night club on Saturday night.

'The lone cinema shows only Hindi movies. Costs $2 in the stalls or $3 in the circle. It took me some time to decide which seat to buy! Remember in the old days, at the back of the cinema where you entered the dark space, they had a curtain which was pulled to block out the light? They still have that curtain in Labasa!'
I have included Kate's link in our sidebar.

Also Promoting Suva, which is a good blog, positive rather than critical, of life in Suva today.
AND... Peceli just this morning said, how about another blog with pics and drawings mainly about Geelong, and I said, 'Oh no, I have lots of things to do,' but in about ten seconds, there it was - 'Geelong Visual Diary'! The link is also in the sidebar!


Pandabonium said...

Interesting blog. The description of the roads around the sugar mill remind me of Maui. In the early part of the last century, sugar mills brought in labor from Japan, Portugal, and the Philippines. They built separate camps for each and played on their fears of each other to keep them from uniting or unionizing.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

When I first read Kate's description of Labasa and that people stared at her I was a bit surprised, then I realized that Kate and her group were using sign language to communicate. So the Labasa stares were because of this unusual way of 'speaking'.
It is really good that people like Kate are working in Fiji and helping deaf people to be included in a more positive way in Fiji society. Often handicapped people there are just kept at home and given no opportunities for education and jobs.
Kate is also an actor and a writer of plays.

Allen said...

Hello there to all you good people.

I am Allen Lockington I live in Lautoka in Fiji. I was in town when a friend gave me a copy of Tuesday August 22nds "BLOG". I hope I am correct with blog. A letter of mine that I had sent to the Fiji Times Letters to the Editor was on it. Wow!! How did that get there?? The title is Hibiscus Hunour.

Anyway I just found you and am glad for the Babasiga BLOG.

Good one people.

My email address is alockington@fijianshipping.com.fj
just in case anyone is interested in sharing thoughts about anything.

Kind regards