Hello again from the Big Blue,
I’m hiding in the bedroom. At this very moment, there is a group of laughing, cheery, beautiful people eating Prez’s sushi, and having a wonderful time. And I am hiding from them. It’s nothing personal – they’re all lovely people – but I’m having one of those days.
First, I think you need to understand our living arrangements a little more clearly. OK, if you were a bird, looking down on the property, you would see two huts right down close to the water. One hut is tall, (as it is actually two huts – one upstairs, one downstairs), and one is small. Behind the tall hut is a green shipping container, which was used to transport supplies and equipment here to build this place but now functions as a very disorganized work shop. Across from the shipping container…er…workshop, and behind the small hut, is our compost/garbage depot/recycling center.
Yes, we do recycle on Aitutaki…sort of. That is to say, aluminum, plastic, and glass is collected, sorted, and separated into neat piles at the dump. And then, well, nothing happens. But at least the stuff that could, theoretically, be recycled, if facilities existed, is not mixed in with the normal garbage!
At the very back of the property is our house/office/common area. There is also a hut tacked onto the side of the house. It’s called the “Garden Hut”, which, savvy travelers will recognize instantly, is simply a nice name for “Hut that isn’t on the beach”. If you were walking into our house, you would first step up into the common area. This is a long, open space that was originally a deck for Mr. Boss and family. It is screened in but that’s new – the screening in might have something to do with the email I made Prez send, before we arrived, explaining that his Princess would jump ship, without a shred of guilt, if the house was not screened in from Mozzies.
Standing at the front, screened door (that doesn’t close properly and is forever being left open, making the screens kind of moot), you will see a couch, a chair, a table (the table is actually a piece of our luggage we’ve covered with a cloth), and a single bed, (which functions both as a couch and a nap platform). To your left, the BBQ, the aquatic center (an old dresser we keep the snorkel gear in), a map of the world with lots of pins stuck in it, another dresser for storage, and a bookshelf. Usually, there is also a stalk of bananas hanging from the ceiling with several hermit crabs on it.
This common area is our living room; it’s also a place where the guests can hang out and socialize – though you have to move a cat or two out of the way to use the furniture. We tell guests it’s open seven days a week from 8am to 8pm, unless we are having a BBQ or a potluck dinner and then they can stay later. Like tonight.
Up another small flight of stairs, is the main house. Again, another long, open, area, with our office area at one end and our kitchen at the other. Our bedroom is directly behind the kitchen, the guest/spare room is next to us, and the bathroom is next to that room. It’s a nice, functional design with only a few flaws.
Flaw #1 – There is no proper ceiling ventilation. During the day, our cinderblock home collects heat like a brick pizza oven. The heat rises to the ceiling where it…um…stays. It can be pleasantly warm and breezy outside and absolutely stifling inside. Long spells at the desk can only be endured with a fan blowing directly on you at high speed, (not helpful when you’re working with bits of paper), and I won’t even attempt to describe the machinations necessary for an evening of romance.
Flaw #2 – Doors. There is only one door that functions properly in the entire house and that is the one to the bathroom…thank goodness. The front door sticks. It makes a sound like it’s closed so you walk away feeling as if you closed it when, in fact, there are hordes of mozzies flying in like a squadron of Luftwaffe bombers. The bedroom and spare room doors are homemade jobs. Oh, they close but getting them to stay that way is a problem. If I’m in the bedroom, I can keep the door closed with the little sliding lock mechanism but that means I have to get up and unlock it every time Prez wants in. To solve this problem, we have employed the use of a brick. When I’m retreating to my cave to write I simply call out to Prez, “Brick me in, honey!” and he slides the brick against the door. Of course, this means every time I come out to use the loo or fetch another portable air conditioner, (ice pack), he has to get up and brick me in again.
Flaw #3 – Privacy…or lack thereof. When Prez and me put together the brilliant plan of cleaning up the deck and using it as a common area for guests we failed to take privacy into consideration. Hey, we’re social folks, how bad could it be? Well, with a wide-open main entrance, two large windows, and a layout that puts guests’ heads right at crotch level when we are in the kitchen, the answer is: pretty bad. Some days, especially when it was rainy and guests fled to the common area in attempt to battle cabin fever, I felt like one of those New York weirdos that spend weeks living in a Plexiglas house as a form of Performance Art. (Maybe I should have been charging admission?). Worst of all, because the house is so poorly ventilated, we keep the bedroom door open at night, in the hopes of catching any stray breeze that might happen by, and I have, more than once, slept in late and woken up to find someone in the common area getting a eyeful of my half-clothed, not-so-gracefully sleeping body.
You will now find curtains on all viewing areas. When Prez remembers to close them, they work perfectly.
But there’s still the matter of the party evenings. Those of you who know me know I live with a man who thinks nothing of spur of the moment dinner parties for a dozen people. Ninety percent of the time, I’m cool with this. In fact, guests over the years have marveled at my ability to handle these impromptu mega-gatherings and the inevitable mess they spawn. (Yes, I’m pretty terrific, aren’t I?). But there’s a difference between a last minute fiesta with ten of your good buddies, where you are comfortable wearing your pajamas if you like, you can drink too much, few conversation topics are taboo, and you can comfortably use the word F**k as an adjective – and a party with ten complete strangers who are paying you to be there. Most days I can rise to the occasion but some days I can’t convince my inner hermit to put on her party dress. Like today.
Today I woke up late with a headache, a sore throat, and a bad case of Cranky Pants. Prez had been up at dark o’clock fishing with some guests and everyone was looking forward to the big tuna feast tonight. Everyone but me. I had a nap in the afternoon, hoping that would fix me, but all it did was remind me how nice and soft our bed is. And, as I scrubbed and cleaned and mopped the house and common area in preparation for the festivities, I grew more and more rankled by the fact that I had to scrub and clean and mop for a party I didn’t want to attend. My throat was still sore and the wave of fatigue passing over me seemed suspiciously like a virus trying to take hold. All I wanted was to slip into my PJ’s, grab a good book, and chill.
So that’s what I did. I am party pooper, hear me roar!
I know Prez feels bad when I hide out, and I feel bad that he feels bad. Mind you, I don’t think he’s suffering too terribly, making small talk with the hot Swiss chick that’s had his eyeballs firmly glued to the three bandaids she uses as a bikini all week. No need to send sympathy cards, trust me. Below is this week’s gang – Swiss Miss is on the far left (as if I had to tell you).
The good news is I got this Coconut Chronicle written ahead of schedule, hooray! The bad news is tomorrow I will face a stack of dishes from a feast I did not enjoy. Sigh. The best news is I think I’ve managed to thwart the virus, my husband has had his weekly social fix, and there’s a really, really nice breeze blowing tonight!
QUESTION: Hermit or social butterfly, which one are you?
Until next week, I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!
The Princess (I just had to put in this picture of Monster with her Boo-Boo…aren’t they cute????)