by Peter Nelson
Somehow we find Asena, Koroi’s sister, and she makes space for us in her family’s hut. No roads, no conventional buildings, no electricity, no plumbing — nothing but the friendliest people and the sweetest, sweetest life. Just as in Western Samoa, we’re instantly adopted by all the children in the village, and they’re with us from sunrise to sundown. Just as in Samoa, we promptly discard our uncomfortable Western clothes and put on sarongs.
Once you overcome your considerable fear of losing it and walking around naked, you quickly realize that the sarong has gotta be the ideal garment. Just wrap it (very snugly!) around your waist and you’re ready for anything. It’s cool, lets in the breezes, but is long enough to protect pale, tender Western legs from bugs and prickly grass and the noonday sun. Great for sitting in, walking in, swimming in, whatever.
And one size fits all!
But there is one tricky bit with the sarongs. The village outhouse is an elevated hut about 15 feet up in the air, built out over the ocean on shaky poles. No stairs, no ladder, no way. Nothing simple like that. Somebody just chopped down a palm tree and leaned it up against the hut at a 30-degree angle. So you have to shinny up this wobbly palm tree trunk that promptly rolls over when you get even slightly off-center.
Sounds tough, doesn’t it? Right.
Now try doing that while you’re wearing a maxi-skirt!
One day, the older kids take us fishing. Carry a large woven basket down to the stream and just scoop the fish out of the water. Pretty simple. Tiny guys, like minnows, each one about 1/2 the size of your little finger. Just boil ‘em and eat ‘em. Takes half a dozen to make a mouthful. Very tasty with taro, a potato-like vegetable.
The closest source of fresh water is actually out in the ocean, believe it or not. There’s a natural stream only about 30 feet from our hut. Wait until the tide’s out, then just walk down and fill up your pot. Also not far away is a fresh stream feeding a small waterfall with a rock pool beneath it, perfect for bathing.