Tuesday, December 09, 2008

This is how most days pan out for us here -

You may get the impression from reading this blog that all we do on the Mortlock Atoll is swan about looking at the sights and complaining about the toilet arrangements. The truth is in fact that most of our day is spent working.

This is how most days pan out for us here-

5am: We get up. Yes I know 5am sounds early but here on Nukutoa this is the time most people get up. At this time the sun is up, the roosters have left our roof and things are happening. The girls disappear for their morning kaukau (strangely the word for wash is the same as the word for kumera - go figure!), and we boys take the long walk to Patasi.

6am - 7am: Breakfast. Time for some Hardman cabin bread biscuits (Hi-Way Hardman. Strongpela Bisket!) with peanut butter (we bought 5 jars of peanut butter but no jam) and a cup of Milo. The crew of the Barbarian usually turn up with blocks of ice for our water cooler.

After this the scientists disappear for some morning science (measuring stuff, surveying and cutting up coral mostly - they have a lot to do on the low tide) and we filmmakers try to locate the people we are filming and prepare the equipment.
8 or 9am to 11am: We film a scene. I hold a microphone while trying not to let any equipment die in the heat / wet. Briar fusses over the camera and Lyn checks the shots / questions against the script. Meanwhile Rose and whoever else we can rope in work on translating the tapes from previous days shooting.

11am to 12:30pm: The hot part of the day begins. The light becomes harsh and full of contrasts while the equipment is in danger of overheating in the full sun. We try not to do any filming. Lyn and Briar start planning the next days shooting while rewriting the script against what we have just shot. I usually fiddle around with the batteries at this time trying to squeeze as much power out of the sun as possible before the equipment sucks it all up again.

12:30 pm: Lunch. Usually rice, instant noodles and fish or corned beef stew. All our meals here are made for us by our host family. We don't have to cook a thing, also they do our laundry! The scientists have turned up again by now and are working on their notes while adding up sums on a calculator.

1pm to 2:30pm. Back to planning / adding up sums. Its still too hot to shoot. Today at this time a big rainstorm broke over the islands. We ran around in the rain with buckets trying to catch as much of it as possible to refill the tanks. Fresh water is precious here. Some laundry water can be drawn from wells in the middle of the island but most washing and drinking water comes from the sky. As most houses are thatched only a few can catch rain.

2:30pm. The second shoot of the day. We go and interview someone or follow them around with the camera to see how much they can put up with.

5 - 5:30 pm: Sunset begins. Time to grab those atmospheric shots before it all disappears for the day.

6pm. It's dark. Time to write blogs, fiddle with the script and wind things down. The chickens are back on the roof and are falling asleep. We may try to wash ourselves using a couple of cups of fresh water.

7pm. Dinner time. The menu varies. Often a slight variation on the lunch menu. Sometimes it can be an incredible feast of local dishes. Today Endar cooked for us and there is a kind of kaukau flat cake / pudding as well as roast chicken (chicken doesn't turn up often on the menu). We don't forget to take our malaria tablets.

8pm. We try to send and receive emails while cursing the gods of the satellite phone. It often takes several tries to hook up and then sometimes throws us off the network. The signal strength comes and goes and we constantly play with the aerial trying to make it better.

After this we go to bed. Nicely tucked up under our mosquito nets until the roosters begin again.

Oops! Dinner time - better go.

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