We arrived this morning to the island of SavuSavu. Instead of jumping in a tour group, we decided to walk around a bit. We’ve heard this island is known for its pearls which are harvested from the oyster farm around the island. We walked in the direction of the oyster company until we saw their big sign and white building. Once in the parking lot, we saw a little shack where 3 women were shucking oysters to find the hidden pearl inside. We peeked over their shoulder and saw a basket of oysters. They would grab one to pry it open, then with gloves on…dig through the flesh, find the pearl, put it in a pile with the others and start over. They do not waste any part of the oyster, the pearl is sold either by itself or in a setting. The meat is sold to restaurants for customers to enjoy and the inside of the shell called, mother of pearl is made into all kinds of things…mainly jewelry.
We went upstairs into the white building and saw a couple small cases of jewelry all made with pearls or mother of pearl. They are particularly known for the black pearl…which is more rare than the other colors and of course very pricey. We were actually surprised as we looked through the different price points and designs…pearls are expensive! The nice ones were $500 and much higher. So…we decided to admire them via window shopping but nothing more.
We walked back to the main town area and saw a few local buses picking people up. We decided it would be fun to jump on and see where it would take us. It was sort of a beat up looking public bus, with all open windows…no glass. We grabbed a seat and had fun both watching the scenery pass by as well as the locals getting on/off going about their daily routine. The bus took us down the coast to a resort and then brought us back to where we caught it before leaving again for its next destination. We jumped off the bus and bought some fresh pineapple which they peeled and cut for us before getting right back on the bus for another ride. Again, we had no idea where it was going but the first ride was fun so we thought the second ride would be too.
This time the bus drove into the island instead of the coast, to a small village. We passed banana trees and gorgeous lush green panoramic views. We also got to see some typical homes while people going to/from various places got on and off the bus. We were taking pictures and probably stood out as tourists on a local route. Once back into town, we found a little bar/restaurant and sat down for a cold beer and coconut. They had live music and the bar was outside giving it the island feel. We also ordered some cassava chips which looked like french fries but were actually made from a root (so I guess that means we were eating a vegetable…not greasy fried starch) which were pretty good, something like turnip meets parsnip meets potato.
Back on the boat, we enjoyed our dinner and movie before bed.
Published by Brandey Kabat
What I like: Dark chocolate, yoga, fresh squeezed juice, laughing, hiking, wine, travel, food, lush products, being warm, having long hair, the ritual of drinking something hot first thing in the morning…
What I don’t like: When people smell their fingers, pushing elevator buttons, confrontational situations, not being able to fall asleep quickly at bedtime…
Most random job ever: Plastic surgery consultant
As for my love life: I met my husband mid way through my junior year in college, as soon as I laid my eyes on him I was attracted to him. In fact, I made the first move which was a bit out of character but there was something about him…probably the fact that he was smokin’ hot!!
Where from and where to: I grew up in NY, went to college at The Ohio State University and then headed to CA after graduation. My boyfriend (Giff) and I had a map, a borrowed van and used stuff from his mom’s basement aka a vacuum, silverware, old Christmas ornaments etc., and about $1000 each. We thought it would be a good idea to head straight to CA since neither of us had been. Being we didn’t know anyone there nor did we have a job or job interviews set up or a place to live…I would say we did it the hard way! However with a bit of help from Giff’s mom who flew out to put us up in a hotel, bought me a suit for interviewing and co-signed a lease to get us a place to live we eventually found jobs and an apartment and have been in CA for 10 years.
Our story: After moving out to CA and living together for about 3 years we got engaged. He popped the question while down on one knee on the beach at sunset after we finished our picnic he had packed of bread, cheese, shrimp cocktail and wine. He even had the ring in a box that had a light shining down on it when opened so as it was getting dark, this amazing man was asking me to be his wife as he handed me a huge rock…Yes! Yes! Yes!
In 2005 we were married (I am biased but our wedding was absolutely amazing). By the end of 2005 we were new home owners. 2006-2009- we were both happily married, attached to our 3 cats and were focused on building our careers.
Giff and I got pregnant mid year 2009 with our first baby but what should have been one of the highlights of our life was soon distracted by the news I received at the doctor’s office.
The lump in my breast that had been dismissed the year before as nothing was now being diagnosed by a different doctor as breast cancer. Thankfully Giff is a persistent person and when we went in for our ultrasound (to hear our baby’s heartbeat) he brought up the request for testing to be done on the lump rather than dismissing it based on feeling it.
The going gets rough: Things began to move so quickly at that point, it was hard to breathe. I was 30, pregnant with my first child and going into surgery to remove breast cancer. I was about to go through what would be the worst year of my life. The plan had been discussed, we were going with the most aggressive regimen possible- double mastectomy, port surgically placed in my chest, chemotherapy, drug therapy and radiation. We also had to terminate the pregnancy. This cancer was estrogen positive and the hormones were actually feeding the cancer. That little angel whom was the cause of our going into the doctor saved my life.
Giff was my rock through every step…interviewing a team of the best doctors, memorizing which medicines I needed to take and when, driving me to chemotherapy and sitting next to me while I was so scared, telling me I was beautiful when I was bald, and so many other things…words cannot express. When you say your vows, in sickness and in health…you would never guess sickness of this magnitude at this age would be in the near future. In addition to this hardship, Giff’s dad died of a complicated prostate cancer the day we came home from my surgery. I could not hold my husband as he mourned for his dad because of the pain I was in from the mastectomy. How did Giff handle all of this pain at one time? How was he so strong for me? He is amazing. Giff’s dad was one of those people whom you naturally wanted to be around…his smile was contagious, his love for life was invigorating and he listened so intently when you talked in a conversation with him. He made you feel special. We think about him often and will miss him so much.
My family and friends were also by my side…my mom flying out from NY several times to help us with cooking and cleaning and holding my hand. It must be one of the most awful things in the world to watch your baby girl be diagnosed with breast cancer. My girlfriends also flew out to take care of me and help with anything they could. Other friends living closer would come by just to sit and talk or watch movies. There were so many cards, letters, flowers, cookies, and other gifts that came from all over the country. It’s amazing to have such great people in my life. In addition to my amazing circle of friends and family, there were the strangers with whom crossed our path. Whether it was a letter in the mail from a breast cancer survivor, the anesthesiologist who called Giff during my surgery crying happy tears that the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes, or our fertility doctor who promised to watch over our frozen embryos as if they were her own. There were so many small gestures that made such a big impact on our lives.
Looking at the bright side: Thankfully this was caught in stage 1, had it been caught a year prior by the first doctor I had gone into about the lump, it may have been caught at stage 0. Please learn from my lesson…insist the lump be tested – a lump cannot be diagnosed by touch. They were able to cut all the cancer out and after I finish the entire regimen including a pill I take over the next 5 years, they said there is a 95% chance the cancer will never come back.
Our exciting future: We’ve decided to re-prioritize, we are taking 400 days starting February 7th of 2011 to travel the world! We will travel to new places, eat new foods, taste new wines and meet new people. We will focus on healing ourselves both physically and mentally. This will be one of the best years of our lives.
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