Sunday, November 29, 2009

Rotorua, New Zealand

Walking in the woods finding fascinating fungi.

A couple of days ago Tallulah said, "Thank you for making our dinner, mom." She's talking like crazy! But she was NOT talking about this particular dinner, Thanksgiving dinner #1. The fish and chips place was closed and I ended up steaming a pile of incompatible frozen vegetables, because that was all there was, and putting raw garlic on it out of sheer spite. Even with the dateline, I just knew something was wrong. Pushing aside our half-eaten food we figured it out.

At Mt. Manganui.

(I will be writing more about our adventures once I finally finish this fiction project aka novel about New Orleans that's been dogging me for at least two years. Personal deadline is January 1.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Saying good-bye to Cook's Bay, and Sea Wolf.

Captain Lon is our new role model. This man personifies the phrase "positive attitude." A huge thank you to the crew of Askari for their instant warmth and friendship. Lon, Rosie, Emma, and Adrian--we hope you guys know just how great you are.

A seven-minute flight to Papeete passes over Sea Wolf's new home in Marina Vaiare (the best deal in French Polynesia!).

Sunday, November 8, 2009

We' ve been attending the weekly "Tahitian dance show" at the Club Bali Hai here in Baie de Cook. Every Wednesday the plastic chairs under the palm trees fill with honeymooners and timesharers, their faces eager, expectant. I think of Captain Cook's sailors leaping into their rowboats and making for these same verdant shores, brownskinned women beckoning from the beaches. The beat of the drums accelerates and the dancers appear, their sexuality unembarrassed, sly, hilarious. Young girls are adorned with fragrant couronnes de fleurs, holding bouquets of ferns like castanets. The dancers smile at each other, singing, playing to the audience but mostly caught up in a world of their own making from which we are joyously excluded. During the audience participation segment near the end of the performance, awkward and untrained westerners become the stiff colonial mirrors of the dancers' vivid jerks and fluid rotations. Tourists who want to unbend, who, prodded by the dancers (“You get up here, now!” the MC barks one evening at a reluctant young man in the back. “And you too!”) sway, a little drunk, goggling at the energetic bursts of their native partners, unable to, even uninterested in controlling their self-conscious expressions. Is the point of this to shame or to liberate? To liberate through shame? And those eighteenth-century perfumed Tahitians, what were they thinking as they welcomed Cook's hungry, unwashed crew? Tallulah leaps from her chair, rushing to an open space in which she spins. As the dancers exit she runs across the grassy expanse of the performance space, lit by a crescent moon under the black cliffs, gathering the waxen frangipani blossoms that tumbled from the dancers' sinous bodies. (The frangipani has no economy, is profligate with its scent, lies broken on the roadsides after heavy wind.) Nelly is on duty at the reception desk tonight. She often wanders, chainsmoking, shouting into her cellphone. I try to pay her but she waves my money away. “Bof!” she says, as if we are old friends.
Walking alongside the market in Papeete, its high-ceilinged acres, I glimpsed tiers of mangoes, unattended, on tables in the dim warmth of late afternoon. I went toward them, stopped, stood waiting for someone to appear. “Tiare!” a voice called from the shadows, and in a moment a vision burst forth, one arm upraised, fingers snapping as if the aisle between the clusters of mangoes were the runway of a Harlem drag ball. “Oui?” she inquired with a moue, a raised eyebrow, having caught all the laughter in the world, just barely. So radiant that I stumbled over my words, trying to explain that I wanted some mangoes, not too green. She chose three for me, palpating them gently, putting them into a plastic bag. As she disappeared again the way she had come, she called to me over her shoulder. “If you want them to ripen quickly,” she said, “keep them in the shadows. Les fruits mûrissent le soir." Fruit ripens at night.