Runnning out on the South Pacific (blub!)….dispatch # 8

The silence has been deafening. (Thank God). Sorry gang. Not lost in the jungle, just yet.
So. How was the inaugural sea-leg testing experiment? I had about 3 hours in 3 days where I didn’t feel sick.
Less exaggeration please. She coped like a trooper, surely? Everyone, experienced or not, was sick. It was really rough. Wish I could say I trooped better.
Bailed out then, did she? (You just can’t get the troopers these days!) Had to anyway. Cyclone Nancy was on the way in.
Cyclones. Rough boat journeys. Thought this was a tropical paradise? I went from cyclone virgin to veteran, courtesy of 3 cyclones in 2 weeks.
She’s always on about the weather. Really! You do expect the sun to split the stones, not hurl them at you.
Tell the truth. It’s been an awful hardship, really. Brilliant sunsets, fresh coconut, duty-free. In February.
Stop. Stop now. I can’t stand it anymore. I’ve nearly forgotten how to text, and barely seen TV in 2 months.
What did people do before mobiles and TV? In the Cooks, people go to the airport to see friends off, meet other friends, even do business. And for jetblast. Listen to CNN (Coconut Network News), also known as the coconut wireless. Oh, and drink tumumu (Cook islands bush-beer).
Even on the other side of the world, in the middle of the ocean, you can’t go anywhere. (Serendipidity really). Ran into Mary (Irish friend I’d already run into in New Zealand), and her mate Hilary. Again on Rarotonga. Totally unplanned.
What about this fella her Dad stayed with in the Cooks in 1956? Found his son. It took four weeks, what with telephones down, and business premises damaged.  They treated me like their own daughter.
Getting in with the locals, eh? (Knew she didn’t really want to leave) I was still packing half an hour before going to the airport, and was the last to get on the plane. In floods.
So. It isn’t a case of if she goes back to the Cooks. It’s when. Even the bus driver was treating me like a local.
And a final note on flower wearing protocol. Left ear means you are single. Right ear means you are spoken for. Both ears, means you are confused!
Written 05/05/05

Running out on dry land……………..dispatch # 7

Where is she now then? The Cook islands.
Never heard of ’em. (Anything to do with Captain Cook of the Bounty? Named for him; northeast of New Zealand, in the South Pacific ocean. Special because my parents met on the boat going there in 1956.
You know you’re in the middle of nowhere when……………… (On arrival), international phonelines, ATM’s and the internet are down; no international roaming on the mobile; and the only place on the island that sells Cook Islands SIM cards, is out of stock.
Back to the old-fashioned methods of the drum and pigeon post then? Thankfully, it was a temporary glitch. The satellite that points at the Cooks had stopped pointing there. (The drums are actually still used in emergencies though)
Crossing the international dateline (on the way here from Fiji), is groundhog day all right. You get two consecutive days of the same date.
And as if crossing the dateline wasn’t enough. The heat and insects are enough to drive anyone troppo.
She’s making new friends already. Itchy and Scratchy.
Occasionally, it is like going a couple of rounds on “Survivor”. (Vanuatu’s not that far away really). All the islands; camping; limited electricity supply, Nearly everything you consume has to be shipped from the main island or mainland.
The bus is a big event on Rarotonga. It’s the only thing that runs on time, and there’s only one per hour.
Going to church on Sunday in the Cooks really IS a religious experience. Pacific island voices, singing traditional hymns, in Cook Islands Maori – simply amazing.
Given the heat, insect, and money situations, that water’s looking very appealing indeed. (And she is in the islands after all). Am bailing out onto a marine research boat for a little while, called, incidentally, the Bounty Bay.
National Geographic, here I come. Hmmm.
Written 09/02/05