again from the land of the Big Blue,
has been on my mind a lot lately, it’s likely because it hasn’t been in my
stomach. A combination of unavailability, expense, and the heat diminishing my
appetite, has put me on an unexpected diet. And while I’m now looking smashing
in my new bikini, a few dizzy spells now and then are an unwelcome side-effect.
say, however, being here has really opened my eyes about how often – back home
– I eat just to fill in gaps. Not physical gaps, more gaps of boredom or just
too much time on my hands. I rarely snack here. What would I snack on? There
are only so many luscious mangoes one can nibble in a day, and the more
traditional “snack” foods are less than appetizing. Apparently, there are three
flavours of potato chips here – plain, chicken, and onion – all of which taste
stale even when they’re fresh off the assembly line. Go figure. I’m working at
avoiding the deadly yet highly tempting loaves of freshly-baked white bread
found in every shop. Oh man, then they have to go and put cheese on
I are becoming well acquainted; in fact I’m eating her frozen stir-fry
vegetables right now. Pam makes everything: Pam’s Baked Beans, Pam’s Chicken,
Pam’s Cookies, Pam’s Pasta, Pam’s Dish Soap, Pam’s Jet Engine Fuel. Not sure
about that last one. I wonder if Pam makes “Pam”? (That’s a cooking spray for
my international readers.) Hmm. Pam’s only real competition is Wattie.
Sometimes I imagine Pam and Wattie as Mob bosses…
Wattie, I see you been selling baked beans with sausage in my neighbourhood.”
“Yeah, watcha gonna do about it, Pammie, old girl?”
cross me, Wattie. Or have you forgotten the dish soap incident?”
(Shivers involuntarily) “Fine, I’ll pull the baked beans out of Avurua, but
that’s all! You better watch your back Pam, some day you’re going to
slip up…and I’ll be right there, with my baked beans and sausage, waiting!”
make some mighty fine cookies, though. You gotta give the old broad her due.
“Tim Tams” are my new, favorite, evening sweet tooth satisfier. The ice cream
here is surprisingly good and, not surprisingly, expensive.
is expensive. I’m slowly processing that fact. Sometimes you just have to shut
your common sense switch off and suck it up, though. The other day Prez and I
were at the Heineken store, (I have no idea what the actual name of this store
is but they have a sign out front with the Heineken logo on it, so now that has
become its name), and Prez saw a package of salami he wanted to buy. We both
knew the salami was going to hurt. “Don’t tell me how much this is,” he
said to the lady at the checkout. She promptly replied, “Fifteen dollars.”
Maybe it was my imagination, but I think I detected a note of glee in her voice
because she knew that we were going to buy it even if she said it was a hundred
and seventy dollars.
of the Heineken store, yesterday I was scootering home from the post office
when my path was suddenly blocked by a glut of traffic. This is highly unusual
on an island with one road, populated mostly by scooters. So there I was,
trapped at the Heineken store, and lo and behold there was our little friend
waiting patiently at the ice cream counter. I’m not one for conspiracy
theories but…OK, no, it was a wedding going by and that’s why the road was
blocked. When Islanders get married, they exit the church and go for a drive
around the island. This bride and groom were riding on top of a large truck
with all their wedding party around them. In the truck behind that, there were
a load of drummers, and then several more cars in the procession behind them.
As the happy couple cruise the strip, people line the streets to give them
gifts. After this is done, the wedding party goes for a kind of wedding shower
where the bride presents the groom’s family with gifts – mostly linen. The
whole thing finishes off with a big reception and the groom’s family is
responsible for paying for that. If you ask me, the bride has the better end of
that deal…I’ve seen how Cook Islanders eat!
I witnessed how Cook Islanders eat at the big Fishing Club event I mentioned
last week. Now, this is not an event tourists would attend, so it was our first
real glimpse into local culture. What a scream.
Fishing Club has a story of its own. It has been blown to smithereens, twice,
by cyclones. The members figured it was time for a sturdier structure so
they’ve started building a massive cement fortress. Remember how I said
everything is expensive here? Well, massive cement fortresses are no exception.
To pay for said fortress, the Club hosts events and holds raffles. Their first
attempt at a big raffle was not very successful as they realized, quite quickly,
they weren’t going to be able to sell enough tickets to cover the $50,000 prize
offered. Oops. They gave all the money back, which I’m sure was a mighty pain
in the behind.
grand prize for the event we attended was a scooter, (I didn’t win, darn), but
there were other prizes as well. Unfortunately, they still haven’t quite got
the raffle thing dialed. They sold tickets and had chips with numbers
corresponding to the tickets. The chips were to go into a bucket for the draw.
Of the 500 tickets printed, they only sold about 150, BUT they put all 500
chips into the bucket. Soooooooo, we had to sit through a lot of, “#0478…unsold
ticket. #0217…unsold ticket.” When they got to the 39” TV the announcer said,
“This draw is for a 39” TV, but the shop ran out of them so we have two 21” TVs
instead.” Of course, this triggered an endless stream of jokes from Prez and I,
“This draw is for a 1200 Harley Goldwing motorcycle, but the shop ran out so we
have twelve 100 Hondas instead!”
the raffle was conducted under “Police Supervision”, and we know they never
cheat, so that’s something.
was good though. (Yes, back to food). Dinner was a traditional umu kai
feast with roast pig and chicken. The food is cooked all day, below ground, by
hot rocks. They cover the food containers with heaps and heaps of banana leaves
and pull them off at the last minute. The guys pulling off the leaves shout all
kinds of stuff in Maori, which I think translates to: “Holy cow these leaves
are hot!”, “Ouch!!”, “Why didn’t our ancestors invent oven mitts?!”, “So much
for my hand-modeling career!!” and so on.
learned a valuable lesson at this dinner. When he got to the pork table he
pointed to a large piece, “That’s my piece!’ he told the (also large) man
serving it up. When it was my turn, I said, “Give me the one you think
is best”. Prez’s piece turned out to be 95% fat, while mine was almost all,
yummy, yummy, slow-cooked, white meat.
dinner, we were treated to an Island Night performance. The stage area was a
little squishy and the crowd less than enthusiastic. I guess the novelty has
long worn off for them. The dancers left the stage with only us and a few other
papaas, (outsiders), clapping, but they didn’t seem to care very much
and had their gear packed up in about 30 seconds. Oh, there was lots of
applause when it was time for the raffle, though…lots of applause.
days ago we tried to go out and catch our own food…on our new boat!! Hooray!
Hooray! We now have a 21’ foot panga-style longboat to bomb around in. Prez
took three of our guests out yesterday for some hardcore snorkelling. The
guests continue to be fun. We had three single guys for awhile, (now that’s my
kind of resort!), One guy is from Scotland and we’ve quickly learned to just
smile and nod around him because we can’t understand a bloody word he says and
it’s getting embarrassing asking him to repeat things. Another gent is from
Pittsburgh but works as an engineer in the Antarctic – he LOVES it here. The
third bachelor, who just checked out this morning, is a French-Canadian who
tours with Cirque du Soliel, he was a real sweety. Today a couple from Austria
checked in, along with a couple from Kauai.
we met the three bachelors at “Puffy’s” for Island Night. This time around
there were a group of junior dancers performing. The highlight of the show was
when a jungle crab sauntered across the dancing area and latched onto a young
girl’s toe. I guess he’s as hungry as I am.
time for a snorkel and then some more quality time with Pam and her delicious
Tim-Tams. I hope all my American friends are enjoying Thanksgiving. Appreciate
if Pam makes roast turkey?
Who is “Pam”, really?
next week, I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!