This is an interlude from the present time, as there are still three posts from the Tikopia project in the pipeline, which are duly scheduled to appear every Thursday for the upcoming weeks. Attentive readers might remember our ambitious plans for the oncoming cyclone season mentioned at our outset from New Zealand six months ago. Dreams like going up North to Kiribati, then Marshall Islands and the big brave jump all the way up North. Well, all of a sudden all the enormous sea we’d have to cross to do that started to seem a bit too brutal. Also our intense experience in Tikopia grew on us a bit like a finishing point of sort. Could it be that we had seen enough of the Pacific? Did the Poly-, Mela- and Micronesians all of a sudden look a little shallow, as if we had explored them to death, their charm now looking a bit empty, their cultural adaptations morphed to a solitary dead end street waiting to be crushed and cursed by modernity?
It came out of the blue, without wanting it, but then almost logically emerging from the few options at hand. Why don’t we go to Australia? That southernmost continent never had exerted any attraction for me with its white arrogance, dark history of penal colony and brutal annihilation of a native people with a skin tan too scary for the Europeans.
One month of humiliating maneuvers later, striving to fulfill the stringent visa requirements, and with a good chunk of cash having evaporated in the doldrums sun, it feels a little bit like sometimes life wants you to do things you never really wished for. Something must be waiting there ‘down under’ for us to do. It certainly is a great privilege to be able to radically change our life’s direction whenever the calling rings in our ears.
We have spent the last week and half in what must be one of the most miserable places in the South Pacific: the Solomon Islands noisy, dirty and faceless capital of Honiara. An impossibly small and exposed port, where half the time your vessel is bouncing up and down on short choppy swells coming in the tiny bay from the North, makes for a miserable existence at best, with torrential rainfalls that purge the creeks of their accumulated human throwaways, which ends up washed out into the sea, a slurry of plastic bags, food containers, plastic bottles of all sizes swimming around the boat at anchor and lining the beaches with their non-floating peers the tin cans. Landing our canoe here at the ‘Yacht Club’ always implied wading through a meter wide band of debris of modern mankind’s industrial excrements, where the Tikopia’s poop on their pristine beaches was allowed to quickly fade into memory, whipped out by a yet more disgusting manifestation.
After undergoing medical exams to prove that we will not infect the Aussies with some solemn diseases and staring at a wall of faceless refusal to communicate, finally last night an email confirmed that now the two of us are deemed suitable for visiting the terra australis. We will set to sea tomorrow morning and set an ambitious course for Brisbane in Southern Queensland, with Bundaberg as an option should the gods of the winds be less then favorable. We will report from the Eastern seaboard of the notorious Coral Sea as soon as we shall have passed unscathed the just as notorious Australian border controls with our unconventional vessel and our still mighty non-conventional attitudes!