10 Things you should know about London

Hello friends and followers!

As promised we’re back with more great tips just for you! Here are the top 10 about our latest visit:

1) Museums – lots and lots of them, for every type of person! And they are all amazing. The best part? A lot of them are for Free! You are welcome to leave a donation but other than that you can enjoy a little bit of world culture without any cost.

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Malangatana’s painting (Untiteled) at Tate’s Museum 

2) The Tube (subway) – it’s great and it takes you pretty much everywhere in the city and it’s outskirts. So if you are planning to stay for a few days this is definitely the transport you want to use. It’s divided in zones (1 to 6) and you can choose the area that best works for you according to the place you are staying (see Oyster card bellow).

3) Trains – they’re super comfortable and fast but I bit too expensive for my taste…. unfortunately sometimes it’s the only way you have to get to where you want in a decent amount of time.

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Vintage car featured at the Science Museum

4) Buses – surprisingly cheap and a great way to get around! We used them in the areas the tube didn’t cover and were presently surprised with it. Also the drivers are very nice and will let you know where your stop is, in case you are totally ignorant as to your location, like me! 🙂

5) Oyster card – this is the greatest invention ever! Basically it’s a reusable card that you buy for £5 and charge with whatever amount you want or buy a 7 day pass (our option). The pass allowed us to do unlimited travels in the tube and most buses. It’s a much better option than it’s “touristic” relatives. You can buy them in most tube stations.

6) Camden Town – I had never been there and now I want to go back every time I’m in town! It’s a super freaky multicultural street market with great food for a very friendly price and lots of fun shops to get some souvenirs. It used to be used as horse stables and it was recovered and turned into a market. Absolutely must visit!

7) London Zoo – I have to admit I was a bit disappointed… For some reason I was expecting it to be a grand place full of wildlife in great enclosures, absolutely adapted to the animals that inhabit it. Unfortunately that’s not the case… I think most of the enclosures could use an upgrade and definitely some maintenance. It also started raining that day, which didn’t exactly help the situation… I don’t regret going there but I don’t think I would do it again. Tourist tip: it’s cheaper to buy the tickets online in advance.

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Giant Galapago tortoises at the London Zoo

8) Street art – performers are everywhere and a lot of them are really good. I loved sitting in some of the main squares/gardens having my awesome chicken sandwich while watching some of these great artists perform. Sometimes we just have to stop and appreciate what’s around us!

9) Musical shows – absolutely worth every penny! I know they are a little bit expensive but this was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen (if not the best). It was my first time and I definitely will be doing this again. Do yourself a favour and make sure you watch one at least once in your life! Tourist tip: check online for special prices. If you’re an adventurous person you can stand in line just before the show starts to try and get a last minute ticket for a great price.

10) Hyde Park – a piece of relaxing heaven right in the middle of the busy city life. If you need a break this is the place you wanna go to. Ducks, swans, pelicans and squirrels… A little bit of wildlife surround you. Plus the gardens and lakes are impeccable (British style!). And of course you can get some close contact with the animals who are used to people and will come begging for food.

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Night life in London

 

And here it is! I hope you enjoyed our tips and can use them the next time you visit London.

Keep following us to get some incredible traveling tips! 😉

Até já!

R.

We are back! Follow us closer

We would like to apologise for our long absence but there has been some big changes in our lives.

Anyway, we are happy to announce that we have joined Instagram and you can now follow us @atejablog!

We promise to keep you updated more often on our vet lives and you can interact more directly with us!

Also, I promise I will reply to all the contacts that we’re made as soon as possible and try to help you as much as I can on your new adventures.

Stay tuned to find out where we are now!

Até já!

R.

Today you can make a difference!

Bula everyone!

Once again, I am sorry to keep you waiting for such a long time. Between going home to see family and friends and returning to Fiji, I´ve been a bit busy…

Anyway, today I´m going to talk about something very important and I will need your help!

Have you ever heard of Paraquat?

It’s an herbicide, used by farmers to kill weeds. It is also highly toxic for humans and animals who ingest it. In fact, there are quite a few cases of people who attempt (and succeed) to commit suicide using this product.

Death is almost certain and very painful. Once it is absorbed by the organism, it remains inside the cells damaging them and ultimately destroying them. There is no way of reversing the process as there is no specific antidote.

Unfortunately, it is a product easily accessible in Fiji (by this I mean anyone can go to an agriculture shop and get it) and used by many to kill weeds or unwanted animals…

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Savusavu beach, Vanu Levu

Usually when we see a case of Paraquat poisoning many others will follow (I’ve seen 5 to 6 cases in just one week) and the mortality rate is enormous (one or two of the dozens I’ve seen have survived). There is not a lot we can do for the animals, especially because most people don’t realize their dogs are sick until it’s too late. It only takes a few hours for it to be absorbed, so unless the owner sees the animal ingesting it (which is very difficult as most of the times people bait meat with it and feed it to the animals) this will be a death sentence.

 

The worst part is that it can take more than a week for the animal to die. They will be in constant pain during this horrible, very slow death process. It is one of the saddest cases we have to deal with here, way too often…

We do not have available any specific diagnostic test for this type of poisoning, so we basically must rely on the clinical signs to diagnose it. The signs include mouth and tongue ulceration, tachypnea, tachycardia, vomiting and diarrhea, among others.

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Tongue ulceration possibly due to ingestion of Paraquat in a young dog.

So here is where I need your help! There is an online petition to ban this toxic herbicide from Fiji and all you have to do is follow this link and sign it:

Ban Paraquat in Fiji!

This product has been banned in many other countries and there are safer alternatives to use in Fiji, so we just need to collect enough signatures to make animals a little bit safer in Fiji.

Are you going to do your part? I’ve done mine! 😊 Please spread the word!

Até já!

R.

Alma de Viajante – English Version (part 2)

What’s a “normal” day in Vanua Levu?

For me the days are a bit different from the “normal” and my routine varies a lot as I work in a mobile clinic doing outreach. The main goal is to provide basic health care to all animals, even if they live in a more remote place, which means I travel a lot between different villages and even islands. Generally, we start the month in Savusavu, the town where we are based, moving to Labasa (pronounced “Lambassa”) and finally Taveuni, an island relatively close to Vanua Levu.

Besides these places, we also travel to other smaller islands and more isolated villages that may need our services. If on one hand it becomes quite exhausting to travel all the time (especially considering the fact that we always use public transport or small boats that allow us to reach to some villages, which can mean a longer time of travel), on the other hand it allows us to visit unique places that most tourists don’t get a chance to visit. This way, my days are pretty much different every day and can either end with a cocktail by the seaside or with a well-deserved shower after a long day spent in a village with mud all the way up to our knees.

 

How would you finish the sentence: “You can’t leave Vanua Levu without…”

… getting to know a little bit of the local culture. As I mention before, Fijians have a very unique and deep rooted culture. I know that most people come to Fiji to enjoy the sun and the blue warm ocean, but I strongly advise you to visit a local village. To do so it’s not a simple process, as most villages have a Chief (“Turaga ni koro”) who needs to give “outsiders” permission to visit their village. However, this is not an individual decision and it requires a meeting with all the head-family members so that they can then come to an agreement.

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Natural hot pool, Vanua Levu

On the other hand, it is considered disrespectful to simply show up in a village without warning and an offer to those who live there, which generally consists of some sort of grocery. Luckily, most resorts/tourism companies offer the possibility to visit local villages with whom they have a previous agreement that facilitates all the process, so there is no excuse not to do it.

 

Let’s talk about tourism, we will try to have a 3 day tour in Vanua Levu. Which things, in your opinion, are “mandatory”?

The first thing would be the same I mentioned in the previous question, to visit a local village. Then we can’t go to Vanua Levu without visiting one of the many natural waterfalls that it offers. There are many options, from a waterfall where we only need to do a 10-minute walk to get there, to places where we need to hike for an hour, for the more adventurous ones.

Another very interesting fact about Fiji is that most of the islands are volcanic and, although there is no active volcano now, there are lots of places where the underground activity heats the water, creating the famous hot springs. There is a place in Savusavu that besides being a private practice also offers the possibility to use small tanks filled with the thermal water. It’s called Dr. Ishaque’s Clinic and for 10 fijian dollars each we can spend a nice rainy afternoon in the comfort of warm water and we can even take our own drinks. In case we are more adventurous people who are not afraid to get dirty, there is also a natural hot pool where the mud, they say, has healing properties.

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Dr. Ishaque’s hot springs

Finally, and speaking a little bit about the more “typical” tourism in Fiji, we can’t not try scuba diving or snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters. Marine life is abundant and goes form colorful coral, to sharks, turtles, dolphins and even whales, which make is worth it to explore the surrounding ocean. Once again, there are many options that provide organized trips to the ocean, but for someone like me who has no experience at all in diving I would recommend Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Dive Shop. The instructors are super nice and very experienced, making the whole process very pleasant and a unique experience, even for the more apprehensive ones.

 

Have you had the chance to visit other islands in Fiji? Is there one in particular that you like?

There are two islands that I think are beautiful: Taveuni and Matagi. Taveuni is also known as the “Garden Island”, so you can imagine that it has an amazing natural beauty. What I like the most about this island is the fauna and flora that you can find there, from green and red parrots flying over our heads to the very endangered local iguanas, which I have not yet had the chance to see in the wild, unfortunately. Matagi is a more remote island, perfect for those who want to forget the rest of the world for a few days. There you will find an exclusive resort run by a family of “kailoma” (term used to describe Fijians who descend from European families) where you can stay in a small burrow with an ocean view, watch live traditional dance shows or simply enjoy a relaxing massage.

Alma de Viajante – English Version (Part 1)

As you may remember, on my last post I shared a link about my participation on another famous portuguese blog (Alma de Viajante), in which I was asked to share my experience of living in Fiji. And as promised, here is the first part of that post translated to English. 🙂

Enjoy and stay tunned for the next parts (very soon!).

Define Vanua Levu in one word.

Fascinating.

Is Vanua Levu a good island to live in? Tell us about the expectations you had before you arrived and if it was what you expected.

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Snorkeling in Savusavu

The truth is I didn’t know much about Fiji before I arrived. I knew it was in the Pacific, practically on the other side of the world compared to Portugal, mas I wasn’t sure about the exact location. I used the internet to find my new destination on the map, research about the official language and not much more, because I didn’t want to create great expectations. I preferred to keep the “mystery” and set off to this new adventure without any preconceived ideas. This gave me the opportunity to create my own opinion about the country, without the influence of people who had already been there.

Having said this, I can tell you that Vanua Levu is an excellent place to live in, especially if you enjoy a more relax rhythm without the bustle of living in a big city. Here everything happens in a slower way, there is no traffic jam or big shopping malls. Has local people usually say: “Fiji time”!

What struck you the most in Vanua Levu?

It was definitely the beauty of the island. As soon as the plane takes off and we start flying over the islands we realize the different shades of blue in the ocean in contrast with the lust green of the islands, especially in Vanua Levu and surrounding islands. The landscape is truly incredible and it’s impossible not to notice it every day, even if you’ve been living here for a while. I can’t get enough of the sunset here, with colors so warm it looks like the sky is on fire. In fact, it’s one of the little habits I’ve created here, to sit on top of a hill with my friends and chat while the sun sets on the horizon.

Savusavu Sunset

Savusavu sunset

How would you describe Fijians?

They are an amazing people, very nice and helpful. It’s impossible to walk on the street and not hear the word “Bula” (which means “hello”) coming from someone with a huge smile on their face and always expect an answer with the same enthusiasm. If we can’t find the place we want to go, we just need to ask someone and they will for sure explain where we can find it and probably even suggest another place we should visit. Fijians love tourists, as a big part of the economy is Fiji is in some way related to tourism, so practically everyone works in something related to tourism.

On the other hand, they are generally very humble people with great pride in their traditions, which means, for example, that Sunday is spent in church with the family (for those who are catholic, there is also a big part of the population with Indian origin and who practices a different religion). Their traditions are taken very seriously and every time we have contact with more traditional people we should respect their culture and adopt and adequate behavior. Something that for us may seem a mainstream behavior, could be considered a great offense by the locals, for which we should always respect the Fijian culture.

Até já!

R.

Quick update

Hello everybody! 

First of all let me just apologize for being away for such a long time. The truth is this past month was an adventure and included a fractured foot caused by an accident with a horse, 3 weeks of medical leave and some other major changes in my life.

(Office view, Savusavu Marina)

Anyway, I’ll leave you with a post from an award winning portuguese blog (Alma de Viajente) where I was asked to write a little bit of what’s it like to live in Fiji (It’s in Portuguese, but I’ll soon get an English version so everyone can read it).

http://www.almadeviajante.com/viver-em-vanua-levu-ilhas-fiji/
Thank you Filipe for giving me the opportunity to share my experiences! 🙂

Até já! 

R.

Disco Soup London- A peel-good solution to climate change

Captura de ecrã 2017-04-28, às 11.06.43If you’re in London and you want to do something exiting tomorrow 🙂

I’m helping to organize this event and will be there the whole day!

“Food waste = climate change! Want a peel-good solution to food waste? Feedback wants your help to throw a party for the great climate activism successes so far in 2017 on 29th April, in solidarity with the People’s #climatemarch in Washington DC.

It’s World Disco Soup day! This is THE place to be in London to show the love for your planet and celebrate the delicious solutions to food waste, where everyone is encouraged to chop, peel and bop to the beat to create a free community feast, all out of food that would have otherwise been wasted.

Feast on a whole day of activites, with kid friendly activities in the Castle’s amazing organic garden, workshops and talks from direct action groups celebrating recent successes in tackling the biggest climate issues facing us, and learn how technology will shape the future of food production. A lot to digest after your FREE MEAL? Wash it all down with a bottle or two of Toast Ale, and other tasty food surplus treats.

Feedback will also be presenting the new EU wide food waste platform Saving Food, and giving updates on the progress of this technological solution to food waste and how it will revolutionise gleaning.

Website here:https://savingfood.eu/

Entry is FREE but capacity is limited so please arrive early to guarantee your spot!

More details on the talks coming soon…

Peas and love,
#foodwaste
#climatemarch “

More details are in the link below:

Disco Soup London – A peel-good solution to climate change

See you there!

Inês

Global Health at the Human-Animal-Ecosystem Interface – University of Geneva | Coursera – Free Online Course

Captura de ecrã 2017-04-20, às 12.16.51Hey!

Take a look at this free online course on coursera.com  about Global Health at the Human-Animal-Ecosystem Interface , from University of Geneva!

About this course: 

” The University of Geneva, Institute Pasteur, University of Montreal and Centre Virchow-Villermé/University Paris Descartes welcome you to this new MOOC on “Global Health at the Human-Animal-Ecosystem Interface”! Over the next 5 weeks, you will explore and learn about some of the major and current Global Health Challenges at the Human-Animal-Ecosystem Interface: zoonotic emerging infections (e.g. Ebola, Nipah, MERS, Avian Influenza), antimicrobial resistance, neglected tropical diseases (e.g. rabies, leishmaniasis, zoonotic TB), snakebite and other human-animal conflicts etc.

You will learn new concepts from the field of epidemiology, social anthropology, disease ecology, veterinary sciences, global health policy etc. and approaches such as One Health, Eco-Health and Planetary Health. Also, you will learn about innovative tools and frameworks used to study and tackle some of these Global Health challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals era. This MOOC proposes you a dynamic, international and interdisciplinary programme based on the One Heath approach (human-animal-environmental dimensions) and involving more than 30 top experts from more than 20 academic and research institutions and international organisations based in Geneva, Paris, Montreal and the world.

Policy makers from the World Health Organisation, clinicians from the University Hospitals of Geneva, epidemiologists from Institut Pasteur etc. will share with you their knowledge and experiences all along this MOOC. Video-lectures have been filmed in different parts of the world and settings (from the field to the lab and office) and will be combined with the latest open readings and interactive activities in the discussion forum, video-conferences etc.

But that is not all! This MOOC will also give you the opportunity to join us in Geneva and develop your project idea during a workshop in July 2017, for free! This MOOC will keep evolving and enriching actively over time and a whole section on health promotion at the human-animal-ecosystem interface will be added in autumn 2017.

The development of this MOOC was led by Dr. Rafael Ruiz de Castañeda, Dr. Isabelle Bolon and Prof. Antoine Flahault from the Institute of Global Health of the University of Geneva. The list of instructors is completed by Prof. Arnaud Fontanet (Institut Pasteur) and Prof. André Ravel (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Montreal).

Watch our teaser here and let’s get started!

https://youtu.be/WT7-cC21uLU?list=PLnZ   (with subtitles in French and in Chinese) Interface – University of Geneva | Coursera”

 

To sign up follow this link:

https://www.coursera.org/learn/global-health-human-animal-ecosystem/

The course started in the 17th of April, so sign up quickly! 🙂

Inês

Living on the other side of the world

This post is a little bit different from the usual, but the purpose of this blog is to be honest and let you know a little bit about the reality of living somewhere else. 

So here is a few things no one will tell you about living in Fiji…

1. It’s very expensive. 

And I’m not just talking about the beautifull resorts (of course those are expensive…). Most of the products are imported from other (faraway) countries, which means going to the supermarket can turn out to be a very expensive trip… yes, there are seasonal products (vegetables and fruits, mostly) that you can get at the local market, but even that sometimes is not available for a number of reasons. There is usually eggs available at all times, but other sources of protein are quite rare and therefore expensive. It is also quite risky to buy any kind of local animal product that is not certified, as unfortunately there is no functional national plan regarding food security. And we vets know what you can get from animal products, for the better and the worst…

2. Desert sandy beaches? Not really…

Coming from a country where white sandy beaches stretch for miles, the beaches here are far from being a nice comfortable place to lay on. Maybe it’s just because we are “spoiled” back home, but you won’t be able to seat on the soft sand easily in Fiji. Most of the beaches consist of coral, which means your feet will suffer until you reach a nice place to swim. So don’t forget to bring your water shoes! On the other hand, you obviously have great places to snorkel/dive and the ocean is nice and warm.

3. Global warming? What is that? 

Which unfortunately makes a lot of potentially beautifull places a terrible and smelly dump… Most of the population is not educated towards environmental issues, so throwing a bottle out the window of a car or dropping a plastic bag on the floor is a common practice. In some villages there is not even a system to collect trash, so there are open air dump sites where people leave their rubbish. Of course if you stick to the touristic routes it will be unlikely to find out about this kind of problems, but if you adventure a little bit beyond it you will certainly be faced with this issue.

4. There are lots of buses! But they just go whenever the driver feels like it… Fiji time!

Which means you could be waiting for hours until you reach you next destination… Or you could just be sitting on the bus for hours until they decide to drive it somewhere! The good thing: it’s quite cheap.

5. You will get to visit amazing waterfalls, secret lakes/rivers and experience the local culture… at a cost!

Don’t be fooled by the Fijians! They may seem all inocent and friendly, but they realize the beauty of their country and they are not afraid to take advantage of it. So if you ever want to visit one of this fantastic places you will probably need to pay a price for it. The closest village will make sure you pay them a fee to enter their domain! Nothing is for free in Fiji, not even a nice view!

And last but not least, this is a very personal point of view…

6. It’s on the opposite side of the world! 

And there is a 12/11 hour difference between you and your friends and family. So even with all the technology that we are now fortunate enough to have, it is very difficult to communicate with your loved ones. It’s not easy being half a day away from pretty much everyone else you know and it will take a lot of commitment from both parts to maintain even your closest relationships. So naturally there will be times where you will feel lonely… 

Now don’t get me wrong! Fiji has amazing qualities (as you can see in most other posts). This is just to show you that all places have good and not so good things and there are ups and downs about choosing to live abroad. 

P.s. I don’t make it a habit taking photos of uggly stuff, so I still posted some nice pictures of this lovely country.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post and keep following our adventures! 🙂

Até já! 

R.

Vuniwai ni Manumanu 

Also known as “animal doctor”.

So what exactly are we doing here in terms of veterinary? Here is a little bit of our daily reality. ..

Mostly we do a lot of cat and dog dessex (we can have up to 6/8 surgeries a day) and consults. The most comum problems are skin diseases (mange, ringworm…), heartworm (very expensive to treat, so most people can’t really afford treatment) and trauma (usually car accidents because animals roam freely on the streets).

We also have some horse cases and some large animal calls, although we rarely get to see any farm animals because the animals are in remote areas of the islands and the costs of getting there are too great. The fact that we do not have a vehicle makes it even harder (if not impossible) to get to some areas. 

We only have access to volatile anesthesia while based in Savusavu, we do not have access to any type of x-ray or ultrasound machine and in order to analyse blood samples we need to send them by airplane to the main island (which is obviously very expensive).

Yet, everyday we go to work with a smile and try to give the best care possible to the animals in Fiji. We also try as hard as we can to educate the local population on how to care for their animals, as many of the problems persist due to lack of knowledge.

So no, it’s not always easy, but we still love what we do! 🙂

(Sorry for the long wait, but I’ve been having some Internet problems…)

Até já! 

R.