Subject: life in the South Pacific
I didn't live in the thatched structures. They
are boat/canoe houses. Actually my house was pretty good.
Those folks who could afford it built "fancy"
houses to show off. They actually mostly lived under the houses where
it was cooler. They would sleep in the houses
in rainy weather. Thatched boathouses are now all replaced by tin
No electricity, no running water. Kerosene lantern
for light. Rainwater is collected in cisterns. Bathing is cold water,
especially in December after a cold rain.
When I left and got to the first place with a hot shower I must have stood
the shower for an hour or more. Missed the hot
showers, not unlike the Survivor folks. Even after 14 months I missed them.
Internet was not a problem since there weren't
even computers in 1969. We did have radio waves. I could get Armed Forces
Radio from Kwajelein. Shortwave was sometimes
fun. I could pick up propaganda broadcasts from China. I guess they were
designed to subvert people in Australia but they
didn't work, I'm sure. They were laughable. Literally every sentence contained
a phrase like, "the Glorious Chairman Mao. .
. , " "The Brilliant Chairman Mao. . . ," did some great thing. Much like
Kim Jung Ill nowadays.
One time the supply ship had been delayed and
I barely managed to hear the broadcast of the moon landing because the
was out of batteries for the radio. Usually the
isolation was okay. One time a friend was on a passing field trip ship.
She said she
knew I didn't want to hear any news but she just
had to tell me Agnew was indicted. That news I relished.
One place where I do sympathize with Survivors
is food. We weren't short of food, but it was mostly taro, rice,
bananas, pandanus and occasional canned
food. And great fish, always fresh caught (no refrigeration)--tuna, mahi-mahi,
parrot fish, etc. Sometimes at night we would
go out on the reef and catch a few lobsters. But you really miss familiar
There were a couple of Peace Corps on the island
and we had a cookbook with lavish pictures of food. We would sometimes
sit around looking at the pictures and reminiscing
about favorite meals, or just wishing we had some of that food. Chocolate
was the worst. No real chocolate in the islands.
The temperature and humidity just wreck candy bars or other chocolate.
One thing that interests me about Survivor: as
far as I know they have never presented anything on how they operate in
They must have local people who are there to
keep the contestants out of trouble. The Pacific islands, at least, are
benign environments. But besides falling coconuts,
there are a few dangers. Some fish are poisonous, and which ones can be
different in different areas, so you need to
check with the local folks to see which ones are safe to eat. There are
a few dangers
on the reefs, like moray eels, poisonous lion
fish, stone fish, which have poison spines on their backs and can be stepped
And in Palau, huge saltwater crocodiles which
occasionally do kill people. I was surprised they never mentioned that
Sharks are mostly not very dangerous, despite
Americans' phobias over them.
Some people were surprised I didn't go crazy from
"cabin fever" since the total land area was about that of an average golf
Never bothered me. Maybe because there were three
separate islets and if you wanted to go to one of the others you had to
out a boat or canoe and get across the lagoon
so it seemed like sort of a road trip. And I could always go fishing.
I haven't been back out there since the 70's.
Things have changed quite a bit since.
I'd like to visit again, especially when I watch
the Survivor shows located on islands.
The tsunami scare this week was a reminder of
the vulnerability of atolls. The last picture was taken from the highest
the island--about 15 feet above the water. Typhoons
drive the ocean totally across the island. Sometime in the late 1700's
wiped out all but perhaps 15 or 20 people on
this island (Mokil or Mwoakilloa). That shit-for-brains Inhofe really infuriates
A four foot rise in sea level would cover most
of this atoll. Even 2 feet would probably make it uninhabitable by destroying
fresh water lens under the land.
I hope this isn't a lot more than you wanted to
know. I can run on at length and I have 1000's of pictures.
PS. This was my house.
My "front yard"
Kerosene stoves were occasionally used but most
cooking was on fires in thatch roof cook houses
Some ladies preparing food
View from the heights
Tony, thanks - I enjoyed that
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