Saturday, December 06, 2008

A demanding sort of holiday. But, nevertheless, not an experience I'd be without.

Am clearly not keeping my end up in the blogging stakes here, but Jeffrey has made sure that the side has not been let down.

I'd say I'm not blogging because I'm so busy, and in a sense this is true, but in all honesty, the days float by here like we're on some strange, confronting holiday. Which is not to say that we're not working hard, but that its very hot, and humid and free time usually gets spent yarning or wishing you were asleep (in the middle of the day) and then trying to sleep at night (which is sometimes impossible.)

Life on Nukutoa is rather like full time existence in a caravan park at the height of summer in the 70s. There are little houses about the size and shape of caravans on similar sized sections, communal toilets and washing facilities and constant good weather. The footwear du jour, every jour, is jandals. People dress casual – t-shirts and laplaps (sarongs) and sometimes not even that. Every day brings its small dramas – flooded out-riggers, crap fishing, children who get grumpy and fractious because of chest infections. But generally things slide along in their own way, in their own time. Women work very hard here, but its still possible to see them drowsing in the sun after a long day. It's very safe. Children are free to roam and play and take physical risks because the other kinds of risks that we're familiar with – stranger danger, traffic, Internet nasties, simply don't exist. People treat us very very well, from the family we're staying with, to people that we don't even really know, to the people that we're working with on the film – this is a very close community. The fact that John and Scott are here to assess what's happening on the island is something that everyone appreciates very much as well. We're trying to make every second count.

That said – there's a flip side to every situation. Imagine living in a camping ground year round – no TV, no Internet, no shops, no variations in food, no showers, no privacy and worse – no doctor, no hospital and no transport out.

The toileting situation is something to get your head around – I was always taught not to pee in the pool, but now I not only have to pee there but shit there as well – if the lagoon counts as a pool. Not only that but I have to do it in plain sight of other people, including (sometimes) the men who keep their boats at poo-point – otherwise known as Tealoki. I'm confronted with physical evidence of other people's activities too, usually in the middle of a conversation with them about the film (people are curious) or village gossip (people are happy to divulge). Or sometimes just because. The other thing I find confronting about Tealoki is the eels. At night, at low tide, and when you're at lowest ebb, when you're expected to squat over about 3 inches of water miles from the shore, there are moray eels, white and curious, perched along the water's edge. Scott suggested not to worry unless I was presenting the eels with something reassembling a small crustacean, whereupon I put my hands over my ears and went “la la la”. I've figured out how to get around the problem but I don't want to divulge any more than I already have. It's simply too Freudian.

The constipation remains a problem – only psychological in part (dehydration and a lack of dietary fibre take care of the rest) and poo stories are regularly shared amongst our band of five reprobates. The worst part though, is having to get wet every time you need to go. It's a round trip of 15-30 minutes depending on your circumstance, and plays merry hell with your sunblock and insect repellent applications. Actually – I lie – the worst part is having to wake up, put on a laplap and then stagger to the water to pee in the middle of the night – I seem to save it all up for then. I've developed a number of dodgy strategies for making the process easier but they're all fraught – for example – tonight I took a short-cut and nearly ran over a giant pile of what appeared to be turtle guts and also a cat trying to eat them. Thank god for headlamps.

I've managed now to have had a close encounter with most of the confronting fauna that Takuu affords – bitten to the quick by clouds of giant mosquitos, had a giant spider fall out of the roof and land next to the spot where I was sleeping on the floor, found a scorpion in the bed itself (Briar wanted to take a photo), and one on my mosquito net, watched a centipede – the only really poisonous thing on the island, run out of my sleeping mat when I picked it up in the morning, played spotlight with a pair of rats and chased one out of our rubbish, repeatedly flicked off a jumping spider that had to have me and just got dive bombed by some kind of beetle while trying to write this. The coral gravel floor of our hut is alive with small crabs and, when you lift your sleeping mat off the floor in the morning, Slater's. While washing in the comforting blanket of darkness (because you have to wash standing next to a bucket in the street), strange, inbred zombie-cats slink past like ghosts.

So – yes – a demanding sort of holiday. But, nevertheless, not an experience I'd be without.

- Lyn

1 comment:

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