Thursday, April 24, 2008

Octopus Salad

Things are going well. The rain is still lighter than the first week or two. We have been snorkeling in the pass regularly and have caught an octopus or two, They make a wonderful salad, with a little olive oil, olives, shredded cabbage, onion and such. We have hardly gotten into the freezer.

The ice box is doing well, although it is using a fair amount of electricity. We have eaten all the fresh vegatables out of it so there is some empty air space trhat I am blaming it on.

We have done very little boat work. We have been visiting too much. We borrowed bikes and pedaled down to the South end to visit the ladies Trinda was weaving with. It was a nice day, although a long ride.

It is still hard to believe the conditions these people live in. They have no electricity, except for a few have 10 watt solar panels and a car battery for a light or two at night. They have no stoves to cook in. I see a few two-burner kerosene stove parts but few of them have the fuel for them so they are rusting in the corner. they cook on open fires on the ground of coconut husks with bars over them to balance a pot on. No running water, they depend on catching rain water or a few shallow wells
full of mosquitoes and such. Most don't know to boil the water even. The restroom is the nearest beach, if they make it, but they keep pigs moored in the yard, so it all smells the same. Moored in that they tie a string to a back foot and to a palm tree. The pig is free to walk in a 6 foot circle. There are dogs wandering all around too.

Since no electricity, no refrigeration either. Any food left over is put in a cabinet with fine wire mesh for sides to try to keep the flies and ants out. Mostly they eat or share all of a fish the day they catch it, or take a chance on it the next day. Most families have young people to fish and get coconuts or dig taro or pick bread fruit in season.

Trinda's friend has 5 huts, about 10 feet square. They are palm tree poles with palm tree board to hold a raised floor (about 3 feet off the ground) with thatched roofs and mostly no walls. Cloth curtains or woven palm fronds make dividers. One is her bedroom, one for the young boys (6 & 9), one for the older one at home (25) one for storage and one is the kitchen cabinet and roof for the cooking fire. The beds are woven mats, maybe 1/8 inch thick lying on the floor. I have not seen a chair yet.
Her husband is one of the Island Councilmen, and doesn't seem to work much beyond that. The 25 year old fishes for the family, gathers and dries seaweed for Norwegian export at .65/lb and gathers, smokes and dries sea cucumbers for Oriental export at $8.50/kilo. It takes a lot of them to make a pound.

But, there is more laughter here than any place else we have been. They are very happy in their ignorance.

You have more than likely heard of the sailboat that wrecked here last Dec. and left a dog and a parrot stranded here as they made their escape to California. The dog, Snickers, was rescued through the efforts of our friends on Southern Cross, by NCL and an airline that took him to Los Angles. Today Robby and I built a bird cage for the parrot, Gulliver, a large blue and red Macaw, to ride the local freighter from Hawaii, back to Christmas Island where there are weekly flights. It is still not decided
if the parrot can go back to the states. He has no papers (they sank with the sailboat) and the owners are not responsive about trying to prove he was legitimate. If he is not rescued in some way from Christmas, he will be killed as an illegal immigrant in 30 days. Robby has been writing to all kinds of people and rescue societies to try to save him.

Tomorrow we are all going down to the South end of the island to put him in his new cage so he can ride the Kwai to Christmas on Saturday.

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