Saturday, January 19, 2008

Right About Now

By now you should be sick of hearing that I have endless ice cubes, air-conditioning, and gallons of surplus rum I smuggled into Fiji. What you don’t know is that due to my brother’s unnatural obsession with protein, I’m also well stocked with canned tuna that he left behind. In addition – you generous readers have fortified me with hundreds of hours of DVDs that weighed in at over 11 pounds (that doesn’t even include the round of silicon that the Dunbars sent direct. Think about that Farber. And yea, I weighed it, so what?) If you’ve done the math, then you can probably visualize the picture that is Barraveigh, on the evening of Jan 19 2008. I sit reclined, fully wacked on Abuelo rum, watching season 1 of Arrested Development (Steve Holt!), dripping mayo and tuna on my sweatshirt, while outside, the cyclone beats the heat down to a paltry 95 degrees. It was a splendid month of family. In addition to the tuna cans and gray t-shirts he left behind, Skinny also bequeathed me a karaoke machine complete with 2 microphones. Yep – I’ve got a karaoke machine and I live on a boat. That’s about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. But, it makes for a great story. You can tell your children about a man the savages called “Guy Smiley” who sailed around the world with a karaoke machine. Am I even spelling that correctly? 

My mom was here too. We really should have our own sitcom. She could only get on and off the boat during mid tides and with much assistance. During high and low tides we ferried her from the quay staircase to the port side of Barraveigh using the dinghy of the cement boat next door (who would make a boat out of cement?). She would repeat aloud the process of getting onto my boat as she performed the maritime cirque du soleil. “Face the opening, step on the gray seat, turn around and sit down.” God she’s precious. During her last night, with the coming of the storm, she was sure we were sinking and woke me numerous times. One of my last enduring visions of her was watching her standing tip toed, peering out the window at that dinghy, as I proved to her that we weren’t lower than it. It was a childlike fascination that flooded her face in that gentle light and made her appear to be a kid stealing a hopeful glance at Santa Claus. I love that lady. 

The following is her favorite experience while here in Fiji, retold with the magic of the internet. You can’t order this through K-Tel: 

She rented a car for her 2 boys and we drove all around for 4 days. At the slightest prospect of picking up a hitchhiker we pulled over. It was our destiny to pick up every and all hitchhikers. In fact, the destination was secondary to the number of hitchhikers we could pick up. Actually – the majority of the people we forced into accepting a ride were never hitchhiking to begin with. We just “smiled” them into that Toyota with 133,000 miles and the steering wheel on the wrong side (every driving session began with mom and I repeating aloud, “drive on the left side, drive on the left side, drive on the left side”. The impulse to migrate onto the right side is overwhelming. You don’t even want to hear about round-abouts). We picked up 3 teenage Fijians with bigger smiles than ours. Upon dropping them off the eldest said, “As a thank you for your kindness for driving us, we would like to invite you to our village tomorrow at noon. We can have lunch on the beach.” His name was “Beese”, and we showed up right on time. He took us to his parents’ house where we presented ½ a kilo of kava, a pineapple, and 2 cartons of cookies. They hacked open coconuts and we passed around the orbs as his father made a prayer in our name. 

The only word we understood was “America”. Beese’s mother Mary toured us around the village and explained the different bures. Then we sat on a communal mat under some shade and the village youngsters sang us one of their native songs. Mom returned the favor and we left shortly after. It was rich experience and I’m so glad I was able to share it with my brother and mother. She’s right to name that day as a highlight. Their gone now, and I miss them both severely. I’m going to pour a double, listen to the clink of ice cubes drown out the howling winds, and raise my glass to family. Join me. 

Your man on point, 
Capt Bob

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