I’m sitting out on our newly cleared deck having a luxurious moment – ‘so glamourous’ as Maisie would say – a pot of coffee and a bit of time all to myself. The kids are at ‘school’ with Karyn, Kian is working on guttering with Boris, and I have time for writing. Marlon discovered this deck when exploring the jungle beyond our camp, it’s the foundations to a house that was never built ( by the guy who sold the land to K & B ) and we have, over the last few days, cleared the mud and plants off the surface and swept it clean. It’s a stunning spot looking out to the blue lagoon on the right and the big blue beyond the reef straight ahead. We began yoga here at last yesterday morning, slightly fumbling our way through the routine, but it felt so good to stretch again and so good to do it with Kian. At one point I looked out, whilst standing on one leg, and saw a whale spray. So wonderful this life right now! I’m not sure how long we can sustain it, without a project or purpose of our own, but it’s not a question I need to answer just yet. For now we are enjoying the newness and beauty of it all, there is plenty to do, challenges of solitude and writing. When we first arrived we had a few drizzly nights and days, a disappointing but typically tropical dampness and greyness. Since then days have been hot hot hot with no sign of rain. All fresh water here is rain water and entirely reliant on the heavy rains that should be here. Bore holes are not possible as they only produce salt water. The rain is collected off the roof of the lock up where our camp is and stored in large 10,000 litre tanks. It’s then gravity fed down to Happy Api and the Beach House. We have a tap on the side of a tank from which we can fill our jugs and bottles – useful that everyone has obligingly drunk so many spirits since our arrival, rum and vodka bottles are so much nicer than plastic. The water is becoming so low now that we are having to be incredibly careful on how we use it. Showers are no longer possible and all bodily washing is done in the sea or with a few wet wipes in the morning. I feel smelly and crusty and pretty unattractive. I now wash my hair in the sea and ‘condition’ my salty locks with coconut oil. We have run out of water up top at jungle camp now as the water level has gone below our tap. We’ve got into a system of carrying our empty bottles down in the morning and returning with heavy full ones at night. It’s manageable as we only have breakfast at camp at the moment, other meals being all shared together whilst we cater for the guests. The worst bit is having to lugg our heavy bowl of washing up down to the sea each day where we take it in turns to do the dishes. It’s generally ok until you get a salty coffee or a sandy plate.
It’s such a lesson on the essential need for water and how we all take it for granted in our daily lives. Eeking out every drop, carrying what we need up and down the hill, makes us aware of how so many less fortunate than ourselves live throughout their lives. No wonder there is little time for education or development when such life essentials take so long. I’ve found my feet in the kitchen now; I’m enjoying menu planning and cooking and am able to be a little more spontaneous and inventive and more my usual style. On Monday we cooked a final feast for the departing guests: Starters: Sweet Potatoe Rosti topped with a bacon and fresh tomato salsa Mains: Fish dumplings in spiced coconut and tomato soup with rice – see recipe link at the bottom of the page folks. Dessert: Flambéd pineapple with seriously sticky choclate brownies Tuesday we went into town with Boris to leave the guests and shop again. We sorted our visas out to the maximum length of stay for tourists – 6 months – and enjoyed (oh so glamourously again) lattes and eggy bread at Bella vista cafe, and discovered the town tapas bar for lunch. The kids stayed on Fofoa with Karyn and had a lesson looking, appropriately, at water. Such a treat eating great food with no kids whinging to interrupt, not having to persuade vegetables are eaten or to correct cave man manners… It’s so lovely and laid back in town, a sleepy sprawling place that is easy to get to know. At least on the surface. I really enjoy shopping in the market, though, as we’ve discovered, you can never rely on getting the same supplies from one week to the next. I’ve made friends with one of the lovely lady sellers called Tema. She always seems to have an unusual amount of fresh herbs to sell and this time we returned triumphantly with lots of greens, herbs and even runner beans. Karyn has been growing a lot in her veggie patch in previous years, but this season it’s really struggling with the drought. We have picked pack choi and rocket but so many herbs and salad leaves have sadly withered away.
The next day we continued our focus on water with a bit of a making session. To save on washing up recently we have been eating off banana or tarot leaves wherever possible, and I thought of a way to save on glasses too. In town we found 10 cheap metal mugs and a selection of nail varnishes in various garish colours. We each painted our own unique mug with the idea that we’d only drink from our own so it wouldn’t need washing regularly or wasting water.
Next we made head-dresses and shakers for our rain dance. With the water shortage kind of dominating our lives Karyn and I had decided to take action; a rain dance seemed a great idea. We all planned it and looked forward to it and in the end the result was a great mix of planning (female energy – making the stuff) and spontaneity (male energy – banging, chanting etc). So good and so fun to all be whacky rain makers together. We painted our faces with charcoal, donned our headdresses, and met up at the water tanks. We made our first social fire at our camp and in the dwindling light began our chant; “Ooh-ha-la-he, Ooh-ha-la-he,” (meaning big rain) again and again, whilst drumming on the near empty water tanks that echoed like huge tribal drums. It sounded deep and vibrant and we all really let go and got lost in the sounds of our chanting and hollering, with an occasional high pitched throat warble thrown in for good measure. Then we sat around the fire, ate pumpkin soup and fresh sour dough bread, and played games of monkey elephant, and wink murder. Let’s hope our wishes of rain were carried high up to the heavens and bring laden clouds to spill all over Fofoa.
Yesterday new guests arrived. They will be mostly self catering but have booked 2 meals. We wanted to impress them with their first welcome meal so we served; Starters:Tomato, basil and mozzarella stacks on garlic bread rounds Mains: Tuna steaks (caught on one of Boris’s fishing trips) with a spicy mint and coriander salsa, creamy dauphinoise potatoes, and stir fry sesame greens. Dessert: Coconut fried bananas. Mmmm, I think the food is getting better all the time… Coming back from town, a few beers on, I stupidly dropped the laptop in the sea. My knee (injured from a silly accident playing on the doughnut..another story) buckled as I got off the blue boat and me and my bag sat in the water. Disaster! So annoying…now we have lost our pics and everything on there and I have lost my way of writing. Kian, rightly so, says I always seems to find an excuse! I must get on with finding a way..at least I have my mini iPad for now. I often, well at least daily, question why I am writing this blog, and often find reasons not to. But. I know that if I heave myself up to do it, however mundane it may feel, I am getting writing practise and I am finding focus and a place for my thoughts. If nothing further comes from it then at least I have tried and I can stop with the constant battering of failure I give myself. Food and water are essential. A sense of purpose and a task to focus on help make life better.