|579> A Sisyphean search for Mt. Analogue in the South Seas: flashing back to Fiji 1990|
Not onelie halve we bin slacking on Roming rioni, but seams weave bin niglecting our journel archival duties here on 5cense... actshoally, we haven't archived nada since authorship of 5cense was bestowed on us (Anon I'm us). The previous guest-blogger (Rem+Rom) made it thru the '80s + up to the '90s, in part cuz they was doing research for A Raft Manifest. Now dat we've started back up w/ 'SSEY" vol II, we fined ourself mining Cal's journels (back when he called hisself Derek White). In 'SSEY" vol II, Cal/Derek assumes the role of Telemachus + Chaulky/Kevin becomes Ulysses. The tranSiberian odyssey Ulysses undertook already got transcribed in 'SSEY" vol 0. Tho Ulysses returns home by Chapter 12, at the end of vol I/beginning of volume II, Telemachus has meanwhile set off on an odyssey of his one in search of his brother, Ulysses (still searching for dare true father, Sisyphus). But while Ulysses headed east across U-rope + Asia to the Himalayas, Telemachus wint west, across the South Pacific + Oztrailia + made it to Malaysia before he was forced to retreat before reaching the Himalayas. After briefly coming home, he continued south thru South America, but still manedged to not even intersect Ulysses' rout, let alone follow in his footseps for even 1 leg. Like 2 o-posing spirals dat never cunverge, 2 ships in the night.
Dare story draws more parallels w/ Mt. Analogue then The Odyssey or Ulysses... or as Chaulky pointed out back in 2014, it's more like the side-story w/in Daumal's Mt. Analogue:
+ now we are going thru this re-inhabitation via this operation we are undergoing on Cal/Chaulky's b-½, to remove the body of his brother, who already harbors the corpse of his father embedded inside him (how vol I ends + where we begin). It's confusing, we know, dat's why we're blogging about it here, to wrap our mind around hit before we putt pen to paper. Also why we're transcribing his journels, in the name of research... not that inny of this is relevant or will be used. Not shore weed bother u, dear Inurnet, w/ the fool transcript of the journels, xcept in an effort to bridge the gap in
So now we'll launch rite back in, at the point where Telemachus left Rarotonga + sum German girl named M (we blanked out names to protect identities), for the blank state of Fiji:
[Then he blabs on for 2 pages about the social/sexual dramas of this clique of backpackers + the "impermanence of things" + the virtues of not attaching yourself to any1...]. «The Polynesian islands are definitely the most devoid of jealousy + sexual hangups of any other society i've witnessed. It borders on humorous. J [the guesthouse host] was cleaning the rooms + trying to figure out where people were sleeping so I explained how A slept on the couch + T slept in M's room + J goes "dat stupeed girl, she shoont let hairself be pushed round like dat. I shood put a fom madress wit a sine so peephole cans go do it outsides under the moon.» I couldn't agree more. She speaks of sex like it's calisthenics or something. She had N + I rolling on the floor. Oh yeah, N is the only remnant of Rarotonga i'm taking with me. We have virtually coinciding schedules. H'es a funny guy—Swiss, travelling solo. Not very sociable to other travellers but you can usually find hanging at the bar with locals. He's sitting 2 rows up as we were the last 2 to make it to the airport. We had to pushstart the rusty old Jeep cuz it wouldn't start. Then we ran into H on the road + transferred our stuff to the station wagon that smells like salt. Scheisse, i forgot to reconfirm my flight, thus forgetting to specify vegetarian so they just brought me a big (even for airplane standards) steak. And so it goes. [Presumably a reference to Vonnegut]. The potatos, bread, papaya and carrots were good, but not not filling. Need coffee now.
Still the same day, but it's the 6th. "Today" is but a fleeting illusion, yesterday does not exist, for it's actually the day before yesterday. Something's wrong here. [Apparently he crossed the International Date Line]. If a plane could go around the world in 24 hours west to east, then what would keep a person from continually staying in the same day? Took me a while to figure that 1 out. Lady next to me on the plane was a riot—born in Rome of Japanese parents, but lived in Tahiti + spoke French, Tahitian, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, German + Yugoslavian. Her English wasn't that good tho, so we talked mostly in Spanish about how beautiful the islands were. Even living here many years, it never seized to amaze her. The concept of a lagoon on a motu within another lagoon just blew her mind + sent her head flying back + her feet in the air. And the fishes! And the color of the water! Her enthusiasm bordered on pyschotic. 1st impressions, Fiji—lots of sugar-cane plantations. The Island is so big it doesn't seem like an Island. The water is not so tropical blue. Modern airport. Mellow + slightly abandoned. I was expecting more hustle + hassle. Many people waiting in the terminal. Find this "Johnny" dude—cheery guy. Couldn't figure out whether he was speaking Hindu or Fijian to his friends. Twilight road, very crowded + dusty + dangerous. Had to swerve off the road to avoid a large honking bus passing on a corner. Staying at a local dive full of what seems like rugby players, big guys but super friendly. They look somewhat similar to "blacks" of African descent, but are an entirely different story. Can't quite put my finger on it. They carry some of that Polynesian baggage with them. Dropped our bags off then me + N + this other guy R went + got some pizza—best pizza i've ever had, dead serious. W/cilantro. And they played a killer mix of music, from a heavy metal version of "Born on the Bayou" to Dead Kennedy's "Rawhide." Lots of guys hangin out on the street—on the outside it doesn't look safe, but feels fine once you are in it. Some drunk chased us down but only wanted to know where we were from + chat + get some money for kava + push some Fijian women on us. His sober friends budded in + got him to back off + told us where his house off should we ever be in need of such services or wanted kava. R is from Cresent City, Calif., 3rd grade teacher (for 10 years) so i've been talking to him about what that's like. Now i'm sitting in this tiny room w/ 3 bunk beds. There are 2 girls I haven't spoken to that are are laying there in their underwear. Space-age backpacks cluttering the floor. Reminds me of something from a science fiction book. These half-naked vagabonds w/ special trademark packs that are their lifeblood. Their only purpose is to explore, no more. Transport themselves thru strange cultures. What a funny thing this is, travelling for the sake of travelling.
I hate the queen. You can't avoid her face. Who is the bloody queen anyway, and what does she do? I am presently in a large colonial-style white wood building in Suva. Woke up early this morning in Nadi, everyone still asleep so i went out + walked around town at 6:45 a.m. while everything was still closed. I can't believe this is Fiji. Sometimes it feels more like India. Not surprising as there is an Indian majority. I'm trying to not absorb all the bias + prejudice dumped on me, mostly by other travellers. Typical stereotypes—"the Fijians are friendlier," "the Indians just want to make money," etc. Hats off if they are, they are only making the best of a shitty situation, brought here against their will to work the land. And who owns 80% of the land, not to mention (now) a majority of electoral seats (22-8) in the govt, when they are actually a minority? Native Fijians. The English are to blame as usual. Kind of ironic—Sir Arthur Gordon, one of the 1st prime ministers, thought he was acting in the best interests of the Fijians when he outlawed having native Fijians indentured to the land. And all the shit about Fijians + Indians disliking eachother... at least i haven't seen it. They do segregate quite a bit + u don't see many mixed couples, but everyone seem to get along fine. All in all, Fiji is a trip. Especially as far as people go, quite a mix. But complicated.
I went to town early, hoping to get mail, but had to wait an hour for the P.O. to open. Found a cafe + read the Fiji Times. 8 out of 100 people die of Dengue fever in Fiji. [Telemachus just got over a bout of Dengue the month before in Tahiti]. Nadi is incredibly dusty + dirty + makes me sneeze. Lots of lone men w/wrapped newspaper packages waiting for the bus (to the sugar plantations?). Moved on to another cafe where I rant into T + E + had breakfast w/ them then checked the post, got 2 letters from
I'm sitting on a beach on an island called Leleuvia. The sun is setting but i can't see it because of a mass of clouds on the horizon. There's some people singing Simon + Garfunkel songs, very out of tune. Now, i can see swirls of orange above. There is food frying + i can hear somebody pounding kava. My outlook on life is suddently quite different. This morning went down to the yacht club + found a ride on this old 110 ft. schooner, to New Zealand. Some old rustic "pirate" looking ship looking for crew. One of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities you'd kick yourself later if you didn't jump on. The ship is owned by this Swedish + Dutch couple, B + T, + their 2 kids (1 w/a NZ passport, the other w/ a French passport). His face is severely scarred from an arc-welding accident + he wears this old gray hat. They have been on the boat for 10 years + are finally selling it for a farm in NZ, so this is their last trip. Should prove to be adventurous. The only catch is it leaves Friday (after much pleading, they want to leave ASAP) so we—M, R + I—have only 3-4 days to see Fiji (it is now Monday night). Killed a few hours in Suva trying to change our arrangements. Was going to get a flight pass for $75 that gives you 4 RT tickets to some of the outer islands, i booked it but luckily didn't pay. We planned on Ovalau, but it was sold out (the bus that drives on the ferry + drives off to Levuka). So at 1 a.m. today i ran into those 2 Berzekley guys i met in Rarotonga who just came back from Leluvia + told us the boat left at 2.am. from this dock that was 3 hours from us by bus. We moved quick + called this funny taxi driver who looked 30 but was atcually 57. He drove extremely fast + got us to the dock just in time. Then a 2-hr ride on this little power boat. Now i'm here on this little island that takes about 15 minutes to circumnavigate.
(Now I'm writing by a kerosene lantern so dim i can barely see what i'm writing). The door is open so the spirits can get out of this bungalow. I was interrupted by 13 rounds of hearts w/ M, R + U, this German cro-magnon who studies medicine, now on a semester in Fiji, seems a cool guy. While this was going on [the kava juice began to flow... continues below]
[in case you can't read his writing, the yagona pulp is chewed by virgins, then spit out in the bowl as kava. Then it continues... The] person receiving also claps once before drinking + says "bula bula". This I did when handed the bowl. Then I gulped it down in 1 swig (to not do so would be an insult). Then the master of ceremonies takes the bowl back + claps 3 times. It's hard to describe the taste, still in my mouth right now. Like a tangy, gingery dirt water. A unique flavor followed by a numbing of the mouth + lips + kind of overall made my perception slightly buzz all over. But not enough to distort reality. Made me a little sick to my stomach, a feeling hard to describe. They did a nice version of "By the Rivers of Babylon" that had me joining in. Then another cup full of kava. 3 claps, clap clap. Bula bula. I think it's basically an excuse for a social gathering, something to do when it gets dark out. Everybody gathered around singing, glossy eyed. Bursting into laughter, heckling eachother. Weird ritual. And the guy sitting ½ naked on a box plucking the washtub bass. The M.C. very serious in his serving of kava, going round the room 1 by 1, bula bula. Spoons rattling in coke bottles. The diligent young lad pounding the kava to the beat. The virgins spitting. All night. Eyes glance around. Everybody in their own inquisitive thoughts. Ever reminded we're but social animals. I can see the moon through the clouds from where i now lay in my bed. Spirits free to come + go. The kerosene lantern flickering in the wind making eerie shadows + the distant thumping of the bass + faint singing + boisterous claps. Bula bula. And the waves lapping within 15 feet of the door. Sweet dreams.
"The secret to a long life is knowing when it's time to go." [Think he's quoting Michelle Shocked]. Split LeLeuvia—got on this boat with about 30 cases of empty bottles, 20 big empty pastic jugs, assorted bags of stuff, our backpacks, 3 tourists, 5 Fijians + 1 scuba driver that wanted to be dropped in the middle of nowhere w/ his little skiff. 1 or 2 hours laying on top of backpacks being splashed by the breakers, to some little dock on the west side of Ovalau. Levuka is on the east side. We piled in the back of a pickup truck, us + these inanimate objects + by now a few more children coming home from school. 50 mph on little dirt road thru the jungle, thru villagers where we'd stop + children would sneak peaks + run off until we gave them a bag of balloons, which thrilled them. Now staying at the Royal hotel, which claims to be the 1st hotel in Fiji—150 years old. I believe it. Quite a rustic colonial wood + tin palace. Did the usual chow, airline, P.O. routine + M + I were waiting outside when this woman w/ a loaf of bread walked by + motioned for us to follow, rubbing her stomach in circles. We said we were full, but she insisted. So we followed her out to some hut on a dock + she disappeared into a kitchen after ordering us (rather impolitely) to sit down. We were a little confused but were saved by children + dogs. Children + dogs are wonderful, you can immediately open up to them. So we played with these kids + dogs until the woman came back + ordered us to go inside which we did, sitting on these mats on the floor. By then the whole family was there. 2 other women , 1 breast-feeding a 6-week old baby. A dozen or so children + our hostess. We engaged in small talk then our hostess fell asleep. She had a moustache + a beads of sweat running down her forehead. One of the other woman took advantage of her snooze to inform us that our hostess was crazy, that she had been in + out of institutions. This explained the slightly psychotic + hostile behavior. Today is national Canadian flag day. Everywhere we look we see them. Every backpacker (which is not much here) is from Canada. The boats in the harbor waving them. I don't understand why every Canadian has to have a red flag on their backpack, including M, who has quite a lot of pride for his Canada. Maybe so no 1 confuses them w/ Americans. M even tried to teach me their national anthem. Well everyone's hitting the sack in this dorm room so i better turn off the light.
Right now i'm on deck the Adelaar in Suva harbor. For once it's an incredible beautiful day. I am overlooking all the steamers + the city of Suva from this slated deck covered w/ coils + strands of rope. I am going to get some Java + be back. Mums fillibaba. Bula bula. The reason we are still sitting here + may continue to do so is because little T is sick. [After a day or so in Levuka...]
[...oh yah—then there's the haliots that pull the sails up....] We climbed around on the boat, practised our knots [he sketched some on the page] + figured out what was connected to what. Let's see, there are 12 of us. B + T + their 2 kids T + J, C—the French-Canadian, L—a.k.a. Mr. Know-it-all, Canadian, H + S (British girls), Y (the Norwegian whose been working on boats all the way from Norway), G—the 17 yr old Kiwi drunkard kid, M + I. Personality clashes are beginning to develop already + we haven't even left. But so far, C, M + I have formed a group. Last night we went to the yacht club for a BBQ, they had sausages, lamb, hamburgers, etc. so M + I went to town + ate at the Hare Krishna place. As we write this, Y just showed up, disheveled + drunk, dropped off by some blonde girl in a dingy, he just kind of grunted at her as she left). The food at the Hare Krishna place was mind expanding—I was overwhelmed buy the different savory sensations, about 8 little bowls full of different things—dahl, coconut eggplant, curried potatoes, raita, a kind of spicy cole slaw + other unidentifiable but unusual + tasty concoctions + samosas + nan. All u can eat. I was in somewhat of a feeding frenzy, much to the enjoyment of M, who finds me strange. I outdid myself + my savory euphoria faded to a faint bloated nausea, my head spinning—I remember seeing the [hare krishna signs, which he skteched] spinning around the room. Guess it was all the blood rushing to my stomach + all the spices that drugged me up. We walked back to the R.S.Y.C. (Royal Suva Yacht Club) + everybody was wasted. We sat at their table for like 10 minutes + in this time period they downed at least 6 pitchers of beer for 8 people. Poor C (who doesn't drink either) was sitting there trying to enjoy the drooling mumbling company of these idiots. So we went + played ping pong. Really irritating cuz L would stumble in every once in a while + insist we drink w/ them—"we're, like, going to be at sea together for 10 days, you guys should loosen up." And who was up at 7 practising ropes + baby-sitting poor little T. And who is still sleeping, waking up w/ hangovers well past noon? Good thing we didn't decide to sail this morning. Taking care of T was quite a chore. The second her mom left of course she started wailing, pointing at the parting boat + screaming "mama!". She got passed between C, M + my arms, we tried everything to get her to shut up. M was most successful, more natural w/ kids. My Ray Bans stopped her crying tho, funny the things babies enjoy. Now mama + papa are going in to to get an airline ticket + we may set sail without T + the kids. Vamos a ver. [followed by next page]
An electronic device receives signals from 5 satellites around the earth + somehow using the doppler effect figures out where we are. (Lat 20 2.67 S, Long 177 47.04 E). This floating hunk of metal also has a radar device + a depth indicator. We sailed by Bega—putting a line in the water to see if we could catch a fish. We saw a flock of birds + B steered towards them + presto! We pulled in a big bonito, enough to feed us all + then some. Had a taste of it raw right there on the deck as Y cut it up (he has kitchen duty the 1° night). The sun set + C + I were on watch from 6 to 8 pm. Not so hard, just sit there + make sure we don't hit anything + that ropes aren't chaffing + that the sails are parallel to the wind direction. Y made an incredible fish soup w/ the bonito, best fish soup i've ever had. The conditions were + still are virtually ideal. Enough wind to pick up speed, yet the ocean calm. Haven't been sick yet, but i've been taking dramamine.
At 2 a.m. were back on watch. I looked out + holy shit we were passing by this huge black land mass w/ a lighthouse on the cape—Kadavu. Aftering going around the point the waves got a little bigger. We tightened + adjusted the sails. Something about B, out there w/ a flashilight examining the sails, his scarred face, so severely burnt looks like exposed raw muscle. The slightest twitch of sail is an indication. Squatting low around the metal post, slowly letting out the creaking rope, under incredible tension. A sliver of an orange moon, sharp enough to pierce the surface of this big blue balloon appeared over the horizon. The stars were incredibly bright + clear. My favorite constellation in the southern sky is this one [sketches a dotted diagram] that looks like a witches broom There is also this lolipop [another diagram]. Phosporescence was washing along the sides + floating up in the wake of the stern. (Lat 20 4.78 S). We are soon to hit the Tropic of Cancer. Now it's morning. Sleeping on boats is nice + peaceful. The smooth swaying like a giant waterbed. I should go on watch now any second.
[... at which point he continued this journal in this post about arks, Hearts of Darkness The Kon-Tiki expedition, Herzog's Conquest of the Useless + Sisyphus... the later who has been on our mined lately as we dive back into Ulysses (rumor is Sisyphus was Ulysses' true father).]
|578 <( )> 580 > Tromping Monti w/ the patron saint of tramps, St. B.J. Labre|