again from the land of the Big Blue!
began to type this Coconut Chronicle, I was dismayed to find my keyboard
covered in grit. Dismayed, but not surprised. For the past week or more
Aitutaki has been putting the “wet” in “wet season”. We have seen storm after storm. Some days the
wind blew so hard you didn’t dare venture outside without one eye firmly
skyward to watch for falling coconuts. And, when it wasn’t raining, the wind
liked to kick sand in our faces…and in our house, and onto our laptops.
tempest was not so bad for us – it kept the mozzies away, (mostly), and let us
sleep without sweating out 4lbs of water each night. And when the rain gave us
a break, it was exciting to sit on the beach, with the wind doing its best to
blow you away, and watch the massive waves crashing over the reef. For our
guests, however, it was not so fun. Prez did his best to lift soggy spirits. He
even played Scrabble, a first for him, I think. One dreary afternoon we rented
a DVD and set up the TV in the common area so everyone could watch a movie. I
even found some microwave popcorn, though we don’t have a microwave so I had to
scooter down to the grocery store and ask, pretty please, if I could use theirs
to pop it. And it was hard to hear the dialogue of the movie at times with the
wind howling, but I think the guests had fun
woke to silence and stillness and sunshine…ahhhhh. Right now every pillow is
hanging on the line drying out. In weather like we’ve had, everything gets damp
and nothing ever dries out completely. Going to bed at night is a bit like
sleeping on a damp towel. Ick.
Mother Nature has been up to some tricks this week.
morning, Prez came in and woke me up by saying, “A dead Sperm Whale washed
up in the lagoon”. Now, come one, I wasn’t born yesterday. There’s no way a
giant whale is going to get over that reef and into this shallow lagoon. No,
more likely, this was just Prez’s funny way of getting me out of bed. But, when
I walked, sleepy-faced, down to the beach, there it was, a full grown whale
about 300’ out, draped over a coral head, and, (to quote our friend Fred
Pirelli), “deader than hell”.
the beach was jammed with people. Some folks paddled, cruised, and even swam
out to see the body, (and to cut out some ivory teeth). Not me. You can tell
the locals here are not used to dead whales because there were a score of
unhappy faces back on the beach later wondering how the heck they were going to
get the vomit-inducing smell off their bodies. And, of course, there was much
discussion about what to do about the poor dead creature. Leaving it out on the
coral was not an option, the minute the wind changed directions and the sun
came out that vomit-inducing smell would be all over the island, not to mention
the oil slick of decomposing flesh flowing out into the pristine lagoon.
entire day was all about the whale. You’d think someone was giving out free
money from the number of scooters racing down the road to the beach. The local
Big Shot named himself head of the whale removal operation. He was going to get
some boats to bring the whale to shore, and then he would simply cart it off to
a big hole by the airport and dump it in. Easy peasy, right? Prez tried to,
gently, explain that the whale would probably weigh about 15 to 20 tons,
definitely stink, and it would probably be wiser to wait until high tide and
then tow it out of the lagoon and back to the open ocean. “We know what
we’re doing, we’ve done this before,” the man grunted. Don’t you just love
small town big shots?
manage to get the rotting carcass to shore. But then they didn’t quite know
what to do with it. Eventually they used a piece of heavy machinery to chop the
whale into a more manageable size. And they did succeed in towing it away and dumping
it in the hole. Of course, this took considerably longer than any of the people
who’d “done this before” thought it would, and the area around where the body
had been smelled like death-reheated, for awhile.
life has returned to normal. Though I can’t help wonder what’s going to happen
as the whale rots, slowly, over the next few years. Even in a covered hole, I
have my suspicions that there will be a nasty fragrance lingering around.
fun doesn’t stop there! One night I was awoken from a rather lovely sleep to a
scratchy-scritchy sound. I perked up immediately – I have heard that sound
before. A rat! It must be. As much as I dreaded it, I woke up Prez and told him
we had a rat in the bedroom. Lucky for me, the thing was still making the
sound, so Prez grabbed the flashlight and started looking. He looked and looked
but couldn’t see anything. “It sounds like it’s behind the TV stand,” I said.
And sure enough, Prez pulled back the stand, shone the flashlight in, and there
laying time for the coconut crabs on the island. You can see them at night, all
over the road, making their way from the jungle to the beach. Well, this little
lady got side-tracked somehow and ended up in our bedroom. She was none too
happy about having a flashlight beam on her and took off as fast as she could,
which, on a linoleum floor, is really not all that fast.
worse than the weather, the whale, and the wayward crab, was one of our latest
guests, who I refer to as “Crazy Guy”.
guests, across the board, have been terrific, (even the ones who had to vacate
early J), so I suppose we were overdue
for a wingnut. Enter, Crazy Guy. Even before he arrived, I had a weird feeling
about this dude. He never emailed – all our guests email – and of the three
email addresses her gave me, none worked. His second phone call came at 2:00am.
And our phone conversations were a little “strange”. But, never one to be
prejudiced, I decided to give the guy a break. Hey, maybe he would be just a regular
moments of meeting him, Crazy Guy told us all about his new business…except he
didn’t really…that is to say, his explanations explained nothing. “It’s a
new business, called U-Travel and it’s custom itineraries utilizing technology.”
Huh? What the technology was, or how it worked, or how the itineraries were
developed, or why, he never really could elaborate in any way that made sense.
told us he was here to open a health retreat.
told us he was here to help the locals by bringing technology to them.
told us he was on a mission from god.
wandered away when Prez was trying to give him the intro tour. Apparently he
walked into another hut, with guests in it, asking if this was where he was staying.
When we finally corralled him, he pounced on another set of guests and tried to
recruit them in his new business. Later he cornered the guests he walked in on
and, in the space of ten minutes, told them about his “technology”, how he had
tried to commit suicide, and how he’d had a vision from god and was now on a
morning Crazy Guy strolled into our kitchen and started using our sink to wash
out something. “Hey mate!’ called Prez. “That’s the common area out there; all
this here is our house, our private living area.” Crazy Guy seemed not
at all fazed by the fact that he was in someone else’s private space, finished
what he was doing, mumbled, “Sorry for the offense,” and ambled off to bother
someone else. Poor Prez has to take him on a Lagoon Cruise tomorrow. All day on
a boat with Crazy guy? Yeah, oh boy! At least there will be four other
people to share the misery. I have images of them feeding him to a giant clam.
saving grace through all this was Roland and Ursula. They are from Austria and
on a round-the-world trip. They stayed for nine days and had lousy weather for
six of them, but they were so sweet. We had a ton of fun hanging out in the
common area and chatting about religion, politics, travel, our homelands, and,
of course, trading horror stories about Crazy Guy. When I get down about
things, people like Ursula and Roland, or Pam & Steve (guests from our
first week), seem to show up at just the right time to make me feel better and
remind me why we love doing this.
update: Mr. Boss is no longer living with us but he’s on the property almost
every day tinkering with his various jalopies and messing up the workshop Prez
keeps trying to clean. At least we have our nights alone!
I wanted to mention to all the wonderful people who are sending me stuff on
Facebook, I can’t watch videos or look at pictures here. I really appreciate
that you think of me but we are on limited bandwith and it’s very
expensive, so please don’t send me anything unless it’s really important! Sorry.
Bummer. I know.
I have a
day off to write tomorrow and not a crazy person in sight…except my boss, I
next week, I hope this finds you healthy, happy, and lovin’ life
p.s. – below are pics of our new boat, the whale watchers, the whale, and Ursula & Roland