This little beauty has been sitting empty for a while, and we joke that with a bit of love and a great deal of scrubbing, it could be transformed into an architecture and design studio. Main road frontage, all day shade and ocean glimpses. Make an offer.
Late in the afternoon, when the sun loses its sting and the shadows are longer, we love to stroll through the back tracks of the village, veering off in new directions, coming out in unexpected back yards. Oh, so this is where this track goes. After ten years, I am still discovering new pockets behind the village, and building new connections in the map of my mind.
Traditional huts are being replaced by the brick and tin hot-boxes of "development", however the dirt floor kitchen in the back yard is resolute. All of the cooking is done on an open fire with crude clay hobs, so if the whole kitchen goes up in smoke it doesn't threaten the house. They like to keep the animals close at hand to clean up the scraps, and utilise the flat gravestones as preparation areas. No stainless steel bench tops or glass splash backs here, just a bucket or two, and a rickety wooden bench.
I blame my fire bug on my mother, who has pyromaniac tendencies. She's an Aries, and I am told they love fire. I think it was cultivated by a desire to rid paddocks of mallee roots and cleanse the harsh surroundings of her farm life. She can't wait for the summer fire ban to be lifted and throw a match into the piles of debris she has gathered over the hot months. Like tending to a baby, she will visit the fire through the night, stoking the coals, raking the cinders and pushing in escapees. A warm glow on her satisfied face.
I was very proud when I got my "firemaker's badge" as an over achieving Girl Guide, and still challenge myself to light every fire with a single match. Really, I should be rubbing sticks together, seeing as I have plenty of time. Coconut fronds are a joy to burn - hot, fast, bright - dying down to a bed of fine coals. And so it was this night I was overcome with the desire to make damper. Tom had gone to bed, and I giggled with anticipation as I leafed through the trusty CWA cookbook checking that indeed the ingredients are only flour and water. A.k.a. glorified glue. Thought I'd get fancy and add walnuts and dates, then rolled the dough into small buns, wrapped them in foil and carried them to the fire on the head of a shovel. Twenty minutes later I was selfishly devouring hot damper with fig jam and bits of ash.
The following morning, you could have used them as ammunition in your ging to kill a nearby goat.
I bought myself two magazines at the Perth airport, Frankie and Peppermint, and promised I would save them until the house was clean, the fridge stocked and I could settle onto the day bed with a coffee. The delayed gratification was worth it. Welcome home.
If you were following our movements last year, you might remember the initial site visit to the cliff block; the scrambling around on jagged rock, measuring cracks and fissures, noting the direction of views, wind and sun, with a vision to design a rustic, organic abode for Baylo & Kate, an English couple from Dartmouth. Progress was steady throughout the season, and it was beginning to take shape when we left in early December. Finally seeing the house finished, furnished and lived in is very satisfying. Although the builders neglected to follow some of the finer artistic details, the architect has announced he is "stoked with the outcome." Join us on the deck for a sunset cup of tea, brewed by a Pom, just the way you like it.
In a deviation from my normal green smoothie breakfast, I opted to cut up the banana, half the papaya and put them on a plate with a few highly prized dates. Wild stuff. Aquaman is in the office, taking up his position in the dawn patrol, and I missed the power cut off to make a green smoothie, so I thought I'd take the time to sit down and savour my organic fruit with an Earl Grey tea and my notebook.
For a while now I have been following a beautiful, austere blog by Jennifer Causey titled Simply Breakfast. It is exactly that; photos of her breakfast. Who would have thought it could be so captivating? Trust me, when you are thousands of miles from the nearest blueberry, loaf of fruit toast, or resupply of rolled oats, even skillfully shot photos of muesli can be strangely intriguing.
above two photos by Jen Causey
Like my four legged friends in the village, my breakfast has a green component, however I serve it in a glass blended with papaya, banana, ginger and water. A blog dedicated to photos of green smoothies would be rather dull, so I can eliminate that from my to-do list. What did you have for breakfast today?
On the village chief's new motorbike for the ride into town. Despite the shock absorbers and a padded seat, a scooter is not built to comfortably negotiate the pot holes and corrugations, and while the first half hour was pleasant enough, the butt numbing pain soon set in. I long to ditch the helmet and take the weight off my neck, but catastrophic thinking imagines us skidding into a roving goat and my head meeting the road. Slowly, slowly. There isn't anything in town worth rushing for.
We are on the mission to find steel and a boilermaker-welder to build us a new, termite proof tank stand. Tom draws up the specs while I sip floral iced tea and admire the decor. There is little choice of eating joints in town, and nothing you would call a cafe. This in Indo for Indonesians. Rice, deep fried balls of unidentified meat, oily curry and boiled beans. A still life display in the window behind a lacy curtain. Very still and not much life. We select a jackfruit curry, boiled kankung (water spinach) and rice. $1.00 per plate. For dessert there is the option of an es campur from a street cart. Jellied bits with all artificial colours and flavourings, shaved ice, sweetened condensed milk and coconut. A month's sugar intake in a single bowl.
Behold we have a shopping list, and start our search in the magic shop for WD40, a battery charger, a toilet seat and 2cm screws. Plenty of buckets, no toilet seat and a rusty battery charger. It is also he place to get your official photos taken; amongst the exhaust pipes, fans and guitars.
Waste management is not high on the council agenda, nor the public's awareness. The sign above says "It is prohibited to throw rubbish into the river and ocean."
We track down a metal worker, who has a side line in busted motorbikes. He claims he is up for the job and will study the plans and SMS us with a quote, which we will duly counter offer, and much polite laughter will ensue as we agree on a fair price.
Apart from some lengths of rope, the shredded blinds were beyond salvage and met a fiery end. The replacements are hung, and providing us with excellent wind, sun and privacy control. A simple solution to open walled living.
The first few days I was making meals I would never dream of in Australia, where the stunning array of ingredients sends my raw vegan self into spins of joy. Mung bean curry with red rice. Bok choi marinated in orange juice. Fibrous leafy greens tossed with fresh air.
We are on the tail end of lean times at the weekly market. Fungus and waterlogging are the enemies of a vegetable garden, but the deluge of rain has produced a bumper crop of rice. Leafy greens are always available and we can't keep up with the home delivered papayas. Lemons are juicy, tempeh and tofu are cheap following the soya bean harvest, and legumes are fresh and weevil free. Carrots are yet to appear and tomatoes are frightfully expensive and scarce. Avocados and mangoes have finished and the sesame crop was flattened by the cyclone.
After a summer of indulging our gustatory senses we were looking forward to returning to a simpler way of eating. Less about stimulation, more about sustenance. Raw nutrition; light, organic, fresh and nourishing. Green smoothies in the morning and evening, papaya, bananas and a meal somewhere in the day. I call it "high-tea", but Aquaman says high-tea is meant to have cake. Coffee is still sneaking its addictive nose in and Sunday's are an almond milk smoothie fest. You would be right in thinking our life revolves around the blender and our outdoor dining table with ocean views. We sure aren't here for the shopping.
They fry up the eggs and leave them on the table for the flies to investigate.
Even if I ate eggs, I would have to pass up these cold, fried, rubbery numbers.
Our days of hauling gear onto the ferry in a stance again exorbitant porter fees are over. For years we refused to pay the sharks and would negotiate the narrow gang plank with boxes, boards and packs, fighting against the crowd and getting duly frustrated in the process. This time we swallowed the price and watched from the shade as our gear was loaded into the belly of the ferry.
After a smooth hour crossing the Straits of Death we step onto the dock and start about haggling a price for our gear to be unloaded. Each trip we swear we will travel light next time, but in hindsight having ten kilos of dates, five kilos of rolled oats and the luxury of lentils is worth the portage. Two more hours and we are home. What will be awaiting us after the wettest season in years?