Thursday, April 30, 2009

the green room

Tom has begun his surfing programme. Eat, sleep, surf. Surf, eat, sleep. I have begun the "pioneer wife" programme, but gave up on the clothes washing as it was too hot in the sun beside the well. As soon as the “pool” is open (high tide in the lagoon), I will be in there, floating away in the tepid water. Tom got barrelled in his first surf, and he is happy to report that all is well in the green room. His life makes perfect sense now it is thoroughly and constantly saturated with saltwater.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

‘tis the season

The tattered hotel menu offers mushroom omelette, ham omelette, cheese omelette or plain omelette. Served with a slice of white cardboard toast to soak up the glistening oil slick. Pass. We try for a papaya juice, and from the depths of the kitchen they produce an insipid, watery beverage.

The ferry leaves 45 minutes behind schedule, which in reality is the schedule, as it never leaves on the ticketed time. I savour our last apple, a tiny green variety from Java, and think about the next seven months without that satisfying crunch. A “B-grade” movie plays, and we witness more deaths and torture than is pleasant for the subconscious to absorb.

The island capital is dusty and ugly. A narrow main street, one padang restaurant, a small marketplace, and stores selling random items from bolts to woks. Only one shop in town sells icecream - Cornettos that have been melted and refrozen umpteen times. This used to be our reward for making the arduous ride to town to use the internet or buy building supplies, but for now, we aren’t even tempted. We buy a mattress for our guest room, pvc pipe, and fresh produce, as we missed our local village market yesterday. A limited range of vegies struggle in the midday heat, and we pick through the best of the carrots, greens and eggplant to begin our season living remote and raw.

Our arrival home coincides with the first day of easterly tradewinds. The wet season has been lingering and the island is still green. The eroded interior is lush and productive with the annual rice crop, and vast stretches of open ground are blanketed with grass, tended by the resident goats. The lushness has also invaded our yard. It is now my turn to laugh at my vain attempts last season to remove every blade of dry grass. What was a canoe sprouting lettuce and surrounded by painfully manicured sand, is now a mound of thriving weeds. The grass is my friend. Embrace the grass.

The sense of relief in finally arriving is overshadowed by the unpleasant job of cleaning and unpacking. At the end of last season Tom packed all of the furniture, bikes, boards, tools and clothes into our new bedroom and locked down the shutters against the wet season onslaught. We have to get to the bottom of the pile to find our bed and the promise of somewhere clean to sleep.

Our “guardsman”, “personal assistant” and friend, Benja, is waiting to meet us, and he sets to work removing the tarps and unveiling our house once again to the world. A vacuum cleaner and high pressure hose would come in handy, but instead I haul water from the well, and with bucket and rag start at the top and work down. Four hours later we have washed, wiped and swept away five months of dust, and invite ourselves over to our neighbouring expats for a cuppa.

The knickers I left behind have grown mould, and every metallic surface is brown with rust. Only marine grade stainless steel can withstand the salty onshore winds over the wet. Our beloved water pump is seized, and the tank is empty, so no shower tonight. Back to the old style mandi with a bucket.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

how many goji berries & condoms?

What do you pack for seven months? It is hard to estimate how much of a certain item we will need, taking into account what and when we can restock in Bali, and whether or not Tom gets on a roll and eats the entire season's worth in one week. This is the first year our weight allocation is free to include food. In the past three seasons, we have lugged tek screws, power points, sheets, and other household and building paraphenalia.

Australian packing list :

250 g organic peppi tea
500 g decaf coffee beans
10 pkt easiyo yoghurt mix
250 g decaf coffee ground
2 kg sultanas
3 kg raw almonds
2 kg olives
2 kg green lentils
2 kg sunflower seeds
2 kg dry chickpeas
1.5 kg flax seeds 1 box sandwhich bags
1 kg dates
1 box vegie bags
1.5 kg goji berries
2 boxes cockroach baits

500 g bee pollen
500g raw cacao powder

1 kg maca powder
400 g miso paste
72 tampons (critical import item)
5 packets condoms (try estimating that one!)
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