Sun and Sustenance: Survival!
The fierce heat in the Marquesas makes me feel woozy and sea sick; forcing me to lie in the cabin during passages. I rouse for dolphins, rainbows and “fish on.”
It’s depressing, being unable to function. I can’t join Dan in Betty Jean for a tour of the south point because of heat exhaustion. But when the sun sets he picks me up (off the cockpit’s cool floor, nude) and brings me to a waterfall. There is a natural spout flowing out of the rocks at the perfect height for a stand-up shower. I soak up the shade and collect coconuts, listen to the birds and wonder what wild animals watch me.
Yesterday I was so hot waiting for our lunch, tears popped out of my eyes. I soaked my tank top and stuck my head under the faucet in the bathroom. I breathed through my mouth for cooling. I sat away from the kitchen’s heat and a seat apart from Dan’s hot bod. I lost my appetite. On the walk home the rain poured and I put away my umbrella—the thing is more useful to block the sun—I wanted to get drenched.
We have a scheme for collecting rain water now. The green bucket gets lashed under the port-side drainage point for drinking water. Empty first into water bottles and kettle, then into the 5 gallon bottle to siphon into the 60 gallon storage tank. The blue bucket, lashed to the starboard drainage point, is for washing. Empty first into the solar shower then into the cooler for laundry. One night it rained so hard, in thirty minutes I collected 12 gallons, hopping around the cockpit in the downpour emptying buckets naked in the dark. It would have been hilarious to watch. Dirty laundry awaits.
Te Poe’s bottom is dirty! We use a spackle knife for stringy greens and a scrub brush for the mucky browns. I use a suction cup to hold my place as I brush along the hull. Black anti-fouling paint puffs off in plumes and I try to hide my face from the toxic stuff. Three species of tunicates (clear, striped, and purple), and two barnacle species are attached to her hulls; hydroids feather the zincs. Remoras suck onto the toilet out-flow pipe. Crabs and octopus wait for the tunicates and barnacles to sink.
An octopus looking up at me with his tall eye stalks makes me think about dinner. My mindset has shifted to a sort of survival, self-sustaining mode; focused on daily needs. We need water and food. And beer. Walking around the island my eyes search for edibles: papaya, pineapple, banana, guava, taro, breadfruit, coconut, pimiento peppers. A family with a giant mango tree traded fruit for nail polish. We exchanged a cigar and eye glasses for bananas and a baguette. The mini mart wasn’t into trading for beer: $18 per 6 pack. Yowie.
A school of 50 permit hang on the point. Free diving allows me to hang with them. My descent is awkward, breaking surface and ear clearing, exerting myself below the buoyant upper water column. When I get to the place where my body is neutral I feel calm stability. I don’t need to breathe. The permit swim over and around me and I am free and safe in their quiet world. I tuck my game bag away, we don’t really need octopus for dinner. A cold beer and fried breadfruit will be nice.