Island life in Aitutaki thus far is fantastic! Our family of buds on s/v Zen got two scooters of their own so we’ve formed our own little “Hells Angels” and we’re cruising the roads in style! Long gone are the mountainous landscapes and cascading hills of Moorea, Tahiti, Bora Bora, and heaven forbid that one in Huahine (which I never hope to encounter again). Those islands were gorgeous, no doubt, but Aitutaki has provided us with it’s own beauty in a much different setting. The roads of this island are mostly flat with a few rolling hills nestled in. Mango, papaya, starfruit, breadfruit, pamplemousse, and mandarin trees are in abundance and instead of dogs (like in the Society Islands), the streets are lined with goats and roosters. In fact, there are no dogs anywhere on this island because they were blamed many years ago for a leprosy outbreak.
I’ve mentioned to Drew several times throughout this trip that in living on Dosia, in a confined space, I have learned just how little I can live without. I am all for microwaves, hot water showers, being able to blow dry and straighten my hair, air conditioning, and yes, the occasional gossip magazine. And honestly, call me shallow, prior to September of last year I would have laughed if someone told me that not only was I capable of functioning minus those luxuries, but that I could do it and I would enjoy it. It’s only when I think I am living “without” that we arrive on an island like Aitutaki and it kicks my butt right back into place and reminds me what really living “without” could mean.
Imagine, back in the States, wanting a hot dog. Easy enough, right? You get in your car, you go to the store (sometimes reluctantly because the couch was oh so comfy), not only do you buy your hot dog but you have your choice of beef, chicken, bratwurst, turkey, sausage, and cheese filled. You go home, you make your dog, and you enjoy. Well imagine wanting a hot dog but having to wait four or five weeks for it because the ship that delivers your groceries wasn’t able to get to your island that month!!! Thus was the case some time ago in Aitutaki. A ship delivers goods and groceries to this island once a month and upon our arrival it had come the week prior. So what we saw in the stores was what we were going to get and while the stores here are nice, they are no Carrefour. Thank heavens we have frozen chicken breasts and bacon in the freezer because we’ve yet to come across any here on the island. I can only imagine that when the shelves are freshly stocked that there is a mad rush, similar to the newest video game release back home, for the locals to grab what they can of the stuff that is really, really valuable to them before it is all gotten and gone, like fresh meats and cheeses.
So for those who are born and raised on this island, what they’ve never had, they can’t miss and the way they receive their goods is the only way they know so to them, it’s normal. For me, it’s a learning experience and one from which I can only hope teaches me and helps me grow as a person. One day, when Drew and I are back into our norm, and that trip to the grocery store seems more like a chore and hassle than a luxury, hopefully the memory of Aitutaki and these people will flash into my mind. Instead of being bothered, I’ll just be glad it’s there and in the present, and for that, incredibly appreciative…