I learnt about the business of teaching and made it through three terms - English, Geography and History as well as rugby and my weekly singing club. I ate luscious paw-paw and experienced a devastating hurricane that came down from The Gilbert and Ellice Islands. With Richard, I wandered in the eye of Hurricane Bebe when the calmness was surreal, pressing us into ourselves with invisible thumbs.
One of the best things was Mofmanu Beach. So white and so deserted. Many was the time I wandered down there after school to swim along the edge of the reef. And I drank grog with the village elders - not in a ceremonial way but just to get spaced out, listening to Pacific waves breaking on the reef. The elders sat quietly in the shadows like buddhas. Words were unnecessary. Sometimes I was the one who pounded those yanqona roots under that starry sky where shooting stars and satellites flew nightly.
There was no electricity and no airstrip. Rotuma was the entire world. My mother and father, my brothers and my girlfriend Pamela were just dreams - tricks of the mind. Young men carried machetes to cut the lush growth in the bush. Young boys shinned up coconut palms to collect green coconuts that contained sweet, sparkling milk. I kissed pretty Maria-Alisi one full moon night. And we listened to the news on Radio Fiji as if tuning in to voices from some distant planet.
Till it was time to leave. Time to go. Beyond that vast horizon was the rest of my life.
You have wonderful memories. You are blessed Mr. Pudding.ReplyDelete
I have never felt that Nurse Lily.Delete
I'm sure that this experience changed your life forever.ReplyDelete
So much of it has remained with me like your experiences in The Arctic.Delete
It sounds like quite the adventure.ReplyDelete
I have a friend who worked for a few years in Papua New Guinea and talks about the way young children are competent with machetes. She finds the western helicopter parenting laughable
Machetes are prized and invaluable items in the tropics. I don't really know what helicopter parenting is. Does it mean spinning your kids around until they black out?Delete
Such beautiful memories you have.ReplyDelete
I hope to make more. COVID has held things up.Delete
Somehow, this gave me goosebumps. Not in a scary way, just shivering a little at the enormity of it all. Can‘t explain any better at 6:15 on this Monday morning.ReplyDelete
Upon arrival my first thought was, "This is real!"Delete
What a wonderful experience for a 19/20 year old.ReplyDelete
At that age I had just (unwisely) dropped out of school and married my first husband.
Such is Life.
How many husbands have you had JayCee? I guess you wear them out and cast them aside like crisp packets.Delete
Wonderful post. What a memory. Would/did you ever return?ReplyDelete
I am apprehensive about returning and I don't suppose I ever will.Delete
Such a different world to your world now.ReplyDelete
But it was real just like the world I am in now.Delete
What a glorious sunset, and a spectacular way to bid farewell to your island Paradise.ReplyDelete
Like the end of an adventure novel.Delete
What amazing memories you have, Neil.ReplyDelete
I guess I have and I would like to make some more. COVID has got in my way.Delete
Luscious paw-paw, and green coconuts, and shooting stars, and swimming in the warm ocean off perfect white sands, and tuning in to Radio Fiji, and a moonlit kiss from the enchanting Maria-Alisi ...ReplyDelete
Jings, Man ! Ye were in Holiday Heaven.
And ye had all the material for a First Novel, *Return To Rotuma*, that would make Harold Robbins green with coconut envy.
Richard Harris could have played ye in the movie, and Samantha Eggar could have played Maria-Alisi.
Still, look on the Bright Side.
Ye did not know ye would be a Blogging Star of the 21st Century, a legend in your own lunch-hour.
There is a Sister Maria-Alisi in a convent on the south side of Glasgow.
I think she belongs to the Marist order of nuns.
I give her a nod and a wink whenever we meet, but she is happily married to Jesus, and disapproves of my Calvinist theology.
Religion had got to Rotuma decades before me in the form of Catholicism and Methodism too. But still the old beliefs swirled beneath that veneer.Delete
What an adventure! Were you ever homesick?ReplyDelete
Yes I was but that feeling was never overwhelming.Delete
Beautiful photo. It sounds cozy and comforting to live on such a small speck of land with people who all know each other, but I imagine it can also seem somewhat suffocating. Did people express a desire to get off the island, to see the world, or did they seem content there?ReplyDelete
You remember it in such detail. I enjoyed your beautiful description of your experiences there. I can't imagine being brave enough to do that. Good for you!ReplyDelete
Having been a teacher, it still boggles my mind that you took on the enormity of a teaching position, while living on a remote island, isolated from all friends and family, at the tender age of 18! My boys are 18 and 20 at present so it makes it easier to put your exploit into context. As my boys might say, "You're the bomb!"ReplyDelete
Your stories of Rotuma remind me of a friend's stories of her time teaching in Truk (which is now called Chuuk Lagoon). What wonderful memories you made.ReplyDelete
Fabulous memories, beautifully written. What a way to begin a journey through adulthood.ReplyDelete