Monday, October 13, 2014

A Week in the Life...

So we are waiting....waiting for our French Polynesia long-stay visa to come back from Papeete.  In the meantime, we wait some more and find projects to tear up the boat so that we can live in disorganization.  It's so much fun.  

Ron decided that I needed to have more storage room, so that I could stock the boat with more provisions.  I think he's afraid that I'm going to run out of all you gluten haters out there, unless you have Celiac's, its a myth.  Don't buy into it!  People have been eating grains forever (okay, maybe only the last 5000 years or so, but that seems like a long time for our systems to adapt to incorporating grains into a purely protein based diet).  Pretty soon, I think there is going to be a movement that says that fruits and vegies are no longer good for you either (oh, wait, I believe that that has been covered by the anti-GMO folks).  So we are left with eating dirt.  Tho I'm sure the only "good" dirt for you will come from some completely out of the way place on earth, where no man has ever walked, and where it will end up costing us way more money than your everyday, ordinary sort of dirt that you might find in, say, your own backyard.  This special dirt will come in a beautifully designed package, which will also add to the cost.  Because the label will be of handmade paper, we of course will willingly turn over obscene amounts of money, because someone will have written a New York Times bestseller or 20, and will tell us why this is the perfect dirt to eat.  And all those dirt eaters will then turn around and make all of the non-dirt eaters feel bad, because we haven't yet bought into the propaganda.  Then, after 5-7 years, a new study will come out that will in fact enable us to incorporate a MASSIVE STEAK, yet again into our pathetic diets. And so evolution will trundle on.....(I've been reading a lot about Darwin).

My own evolution continued a few days ago, with learning a bit more HTML code, and to figure out how to include a map of all the places that we have traveled these last 4 1/2 years, both on the boat, and on land.  I at first decided I wanted to do it all by memory, and I was fairly successful for the first 6 months or so, but then all the bays and anchorages began to muddle together.  I pulled out our Yacht Log for some help in bringing the rest of the memories alive, with Latitudes and Longitudes, including subsequent comments.  In Mexico, there was a lot of "we motored".  In Costa Rica, there were quite a few exclamation marks in the comment section, and apparently it was really hot in Panama and El Salvador.  Because we've inland traveled quite a bit while anchored here Ecuador, and it's the most recent past, my memories are sharp of how much money we've spent, but also of the really great cultures we've experienced.  

The Inca culture is reasserting itself, not only here in South America, but also all over the world.  That very expensive GRAIN you can buy now and is being served to you in rather posh restaurants called Quinoa......been around these parts for 2000 or so years.  It's a grain, but it doesn't contain gluten, so it might make it onto your gluten-hating plates.  The Bolivians are laughing all the way to the bank, as westerners are buying it in droves, it being the "new" thing.  It's really old, actually, but new converts have a way of blowing it all out of proportion....a bit like born-agains.  

I'm not sure if it'll make it onto the good ship Sundancer.  I'd have to leave a bag of flour behind.  

In the meantime, we wait.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

Priming the pump

Ron is in charge of so many things on our boat.  One of his most important jobs, however, is to provide us with nightly entertainment in the way of downloaded television shows, movies, etc.  Last week, in light of the fact that we were immersed in all things south Pacific, he got a 6 part series from the BBC, entitled South Pacific (not very imaginative, but it does get the point across). Last night, we started in on Part 1 to prepare us for the next leg of our sailing journey.

I won't bore you with descriptions of azure seas, crystalline waters, dramatic music and photo angles, (okay, just had to throw that in there) but there were some interesting lessons to be learned.  One island, described as being very remote (duh) was highlighted due to their many ways of fishing.  Jigging while lying prone on the waters' surface, enabled these islanders to still obtain the daily meal when the seas were too rough to take their boats out.  Apparently, they have some of the greatest numbers of ways to fish than many of their neighbors.  I'd say that they were keeping up with Darwin's iguanas, in discovering many methods of adaptability and evolution.

A segment detailing the beginnings of the "bungee jump" on Pentacost Island in Vanuatu, showed that the men there have been throwing themselves off high platforms for ages. Although the Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club claims to have been the first to participate in this "sport" in 1979, in reality these islanders have been doing so for hundreds of years, but they call it Bislama nanggol (or the more easily pronounced "land diving").  Although the Kiwis in New Zealand claim to have been the first to do it commercially, in reality they are just pussies, using giant rubber bands rather than the more traditional vines, the way the real men of Pentacost do it. 

On our list of things to buy prior to our Pacific crossing is a machete.  I know, you would imagine that we would already have one on board, but as the boat tends to go where there aren't jungles and vines needing to be whacked through, we've bypassed this boat tool.  We either buy one, or we take aboard a Robber, or Coconut, Crab to help us with shucking coconuts.  They are so big that should we take on this extra crew member, I'll need to do something about clearing out the vberth.  A meter-wide leg span, and strength to drill through coconuts, means these guys are not messing around.  Perhaps I could even teach it to clean the barnacles off the bottom of the dinghy. 

One item of note was the mentality of the community of Atuna Island, when hunting for birds to supplement their mostly marine meals.  They know that they could hunt these birds to extinction, but they net them in numbers which ensure their sustainability.  Their "at oneness" with their environment showed a rhythm with nature which is commendable.

Not so with those now-extinct Rapa Nui, of Easter Island.  This at one time lush and diverse island, was completely denuded of massive palm trees due to tribal competitions in one-up-manship. The building of the massive Moai heads, led to their ultimate destruction of the very habitat they needed for survival.

While the interesting facts we learned last night were presented in such spectacular photographic fashion by the BBC, most importantly the lessons learned were those of survival.  While the peoples of the south Pacific islands have been around for 2-3000 years, I'd suggest that perhaps they go on a road trip to educate the rest of the world.  Sustainability, living in harmony with nature, value of community versus competition, these are age old lessons that apparently still haven't been learned in the world at large.  What is concerning is that the populations of these islands are newer than those in North and South America, and in Europe and the Middle East - is the evolution that is still to come there going to follow the rest of the world's example?