It’s a Gas

Hello again from the Big Blue!

The wind blows, the coconuts fall, the cats sleep – this is life lately. A good time for a little housekeeping, both of the figurative and literal variety.

Tiger Lilly on her namesake…"Smart Tiger"

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Prez and I have slipped into routine. Island life, that blend of the mundane and absurd, is becoming predictable. Most times, this would be the spark lighting the fire under our butts, prompting us to flee but the South Pacific has a way of smothering the flames of discontent. Perhaps the frangipani is laced with a mild narcotic? It’s possible. Regardless, we are doing the unthinkable, (for us), and committing to a whole ‘nother year on our little hunk of rock.

We have a few reasons for our decision to stay put. The first is financial, as boring as that sounds. We’re hardly raking in mountains of cash but with no rent, no cable bill, no car insurance, no telephone bill, and only a minimum of expenses we actually manage to save a few clams each month. Oh yes, and lest we forget, there is nowhere to spend money here save for the occasional dinner at Ultra Fancy Resort. Funny how much dough one saves when the temptations are removed. (Well, there is my little Amazon.com habit but, please, we have not completely abandoned civilization!) 

Another reason is simplicity. Life is simple here. Simple and slow. Yes, we miss the excitement and variety of city living but it’s all a trade off. As my friend Steve says, “You can have anything you want, you just can’t have everything you want.” We can pick sun-ripened paw paws, passion fruit, starfruit, and mangoes right off the trees/vines, for free. Fresh tuna is provided courtesy of my fishing-god husband. Coconuts fall at our feet. Other resorts we send overflow guests to keep us stocked up on bananas and oranges and the occasional bottle of wine. Clothing needs are minimal. The furthest we ever travel, for anything, is five or six kilometers. We never lock our doors. We don’t even take the keys out of the car when we park (if someone steals it, where are they going to go?) Heck, even the bank here doesn’t have a door separating the customers from the tellers…or the money. No rush hour, no smog, no crime (except of the white collar variety), no TV, no worries. Despite my whining and complaining, it feels good to shed the burden of abundance, at least for awhile. 

Free coconuts anyone?

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And last, but certainly not least, is that we’ve made some friends here and we’d like to spend a bit more time playing with them. Our first six months here were a flurry of cleaning and fixing and reorganizing. The ciguatera poisoning didn’t help either, knocking us out for a good month. Now that we have the place running relatively smoothly, and know enough people to have picnics, and camping trips, and dinner parties, we’d like to actually enjoy this island.

Don’t worry though, I’ll still do lots of whining and complaining for your reading pleasure.

This week, for example, I can bitch about the lack of petrol. “Lack of” meaning none. Meaning the island ran out two weeks ago and the monthly supply ship has still not arrived. May not arrive if this blasted wind keeps up! (Oh, look, I found something else to complain about!). Now, you may be wondering, Princess, if the supply ship comes once a month and your island is so very small that no one ever has to drive very far, how on earth would you run out of petrol in two weeks?? You’d be right to wonder this but then I would remind you that forward thinking is not a common Cook Islands trait.

The British television series “Shipwrecked” films on two of the motus here, from September to November, and they need a lot of petrol to fill the tanks of the boats they use to run cast, crew and equipment back and forth from the main island. Naturally, no one thought, when drawing up the contract allowing the show to film here, to add the stipulation that they must arrange for their own fuel or that steps must be taken to ensure the islanders are not deprived of fuel. Oh no, no, no that would be far too logical.

Luckily, as I mentioned above, we now have friends here and were given the inside wink long before the precious fluid dried up. Every tank was filled, as were extra containers. Ironically, however, because of all this wind, we can’t do any snorkel tours and so our boat, even with a full tank of petrol, sits idle.

Oh, and if you think I now say “petrol” instead of “gas” as some sort of affectation, that is not the case – I’m simply re-training myself for practical reasons. Here, gas is propane (used for stoves) and petrol is gas. Prez once had a long, frustrating telephone conversation with the receptionist from another resort as he tried to explain that we couldn’t run any snorkel tours until the supply ship arrived because we were out of gas. (This happened last month when the island ran out of petrol a week before the ship arrived). From the kitchen, I heard him repeating, “we’re out of gas” over and over. Finally, I yelled across the room, “Petrol! We’re out of petrol.” Once he explained that we were out of petrol and not propane, the woman immediately understood. You’d think she would have figured it out but she probably thought maybe it was some weird papa’a tradition that you can’t go out on a boat if you are unable to cook bacon and eggs first, or something.

We are learning to use proper Cook Island/Kiwi names for everything. Hamburger is “mince” unless you are referring to a hamburger, in which case it is just “hamburger”. Beets are “beet root” and beet root is a staple ingredient on hamburgers because Kiwis and Cook Islanders have a conspicuous absence of taste buds. Rent is “hire”. Ketchup is “tomato sauce” – yes, there was a bad pasta incident before we figured this out. Mmmmm, spaghetti and ketchup, yum! Coffee drinks are still a mystery. There are “flat whites” and “long blacks” and all sorts of words that bear no resemblance to what we’re used to. (Point of interest: Italians, we have discovered, find our western coffee habits ridiculous. “It isn’t coffee, it’s all milk!” they told us). Good thing I’m a tea drinker! Candies are “lollies”. Flip flops are “jandals” – don’t you mean sandals? I asked once. No, “sandals” only refer to the Greek style foot wear, you know, the ones with the laces? And, warning to BC visitors, don’t get too excited when you see a sign advertising “pot plant for sale”, as this refers only to potted plants. You can’t get high from hibiscus – misleading, I know.

Let’s see, what other new do I have for you?

Well, it was my daddy’s birthday last week. Happy Birthday Dad!!!! Miss you!!!!! xoxoxoxo

There was a dengue fever outbreak which peaked at about twenty-one cases. According to the government, however, the outbreak has now ended. Good. Ciguatera and Dengue, in one year, would just be too much for this Princess.

We had two more Italians come to stay here, Lorena and Simon, (we love Italians!), and they treated us to some authentic Italian food. (She pauses to wipe the drool from her chin). Two nights in a row, Simon made us pasta, and then on the last night he surprised us with home made pizza. Wow. I think he made nine pizzas! We ate for three hours solid and I woke up with a pizza hangover. Oh, but it was sooooooooooo worth it!

Mama Mia! Now that’s good pizza!!

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Oh, and for those who didn’t receive the mass mail out, our friends the Ripsters, of mountain climbing fame, have a video of their Everest expedition entered in a contest. If you follow this link: MEC Sweet Spots Outdoor Video Contest and vote for them I will send you a pair of jandals and a pot plant! *

*Not valid outside of Aitutaki

Well, I’m running out of gas (energy, not propane) so I’d better wrap up.

QUESTION: Are you as confused as I am?

Until next week, (or thereabouts), I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!

The Princess

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