Home Alone!

Viriamu's headed off to Tahiti for a few days to a meeting of the guesthouse owners Federation = silly politics and lots of squabbling! But it also means he can go and do some busy work in Tahiti too - including grappling with my drivers license application! As for us, the guesthouse is empty until friday, so I can spend the time with the kids, indulging my literary mores, in between housework, of course! There's also the Pacific Under-water fishing championship underway in Rurutu at the moment, so we might go an savour some of the excitement generated by that! I think we'll manage without the big boss for a few days ;-)

Snozzcumbers, red tape and Peppa pig!

It's been a random sort of week, with a few quite unrelated odd things cropping up.

Matotea has started addressing herself as Peppa Pig, and we have to answer to Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig, or suffer the consequences. This role-playing fantasy has been going on for two days now!

I received a weird looking vegetable from my mother-in-law, she told me it was a giant bean, maybe I should plant it so that I can find the crock of gold! But seriously what is this, it looks like a cross between okra and a courgette....and brings to mind snozzcumbers........ 

Sometimes life here in French Polynesia is a little trying - yes, it's true, even here in paradise.  I've been trying to figure out what to do, to get my UK-European drivers license renewed/changed into a French Polynesia/European drivers license. It's an impossibly complicated matter, as is anything involving paperwork here, all the more complicated by the fact that you can't get passport photos done in Rurutu, nor get an official french translation (yeah, hard to believe, but I need to get my license translated by an official translator!). I'm grappling with the realization that I'll need to go to Tahiti to get the pictures done, quite an expensive passport photo that!

Heimana stood up for half a millisecond on her own, and was SOOOO very pleased about it. Almost as pleased as she was to be sharing a ride on Matotea's tricycle (dammit that camera has not yet arrived)!

The bank called me on saturday, weird enough as the Socredo has the least useful opening hours of any bank I know.......but a very polite lady wanted to ask me not to use their online banking facilities, outside of regular banking hours (hmmmmmn! now isn't that the purpose of online banking?).......apparently it was causing some kind of confusion for the computer techs or maybe the fraud squad in Tahiti !?!


Nine months...

Heimana has been outside longer than she was inside now. She's crawling around the place at great speed at the moment, and is into everything. She's got four teeth (two at the bottom and two at the top) and another two on the way. She would really love to be up and about on our feet, but we're not there yet, thank goodness! She's not talking, but she does have a wide array of noises at her disposal, blowing raspberries incessantly is currently a favorite past-time.  
She's still got a fairly happy disposition, but she's definitely becoming more and more willful. She and Matotea are already fighting over toys! I can already see the toddler tantrums coming. I think Heimana will be able to hold her own against Matotea.....


Today was not my birthday.....

...but we celebrated it, as if it was! I turned 33 on the 11th and, as usual, Viriamu had forgotten....I'm used to it by now, but the funniest thing is that we have another British-Rurutu family staying with us, and they have exactly the same birthday/holiday issues! As we had a houseful on sunday we decided to have a bit of a celebration today.....with a bit of help from our friends, Viriamu organized a nice low-key evening, with a BBQ and birthday cake. He even bought me flowers, so I'm going to have to start swallowing my words if he continues like this! It's been really fun to meet another family dealing with the same cross-cultural issues as us. Matotea, in particular, is just LOVING having three english-french speaking kids to play with, they're all older, so she's struggling to keep up, but, as always, she's still managing to be the center of attention. It's been the best birthday I've celebrated in Rurutu, so far!


Happy Easter!

We've had a busy old weekend, the guesthouse has been full, and is gradually emptying over today and tomorrow, before it all starts again with another busy weekend. I can't say we celebrated Easter, though I did take a quick tour around Avera just before the morning service, to admire the Easter bonnets (actually every sunday is Easter here, any good Rurutu woman has a selection of fancy hats for church). I did try making hot-cross buns on Friday, and I have to say they turned out light fluffy and delicious, even if I had to use candied ginger instead of candied peel. 

I was inspired by our guests (a couple who have already stayed with us once, and have a young baby who is just a day younger than Heimana) - they brought us some Algerian Easter brioche as an Easter present along with chocolate bunnies for Matotea. Which was great, as we can't buy Easter eggs in the store here,  they just don't have them. Matotea hasn't been able to enjoy them yet because she's de-camped to Meme's. Her cousins Meisi and Mata'i are there at the moment, so we probably won't see much of her until they've gone. Meisi is a few years older than Mato, and is at the same school, so they are firm friends, whatsmore Meisi has a swing........


The Walrus and the carpenter

Running a guesthouse is definitely a very interesting, if rather demanding, way of life. You're constantly inviting strangers into your home and sharing your life with them. It takes a while to get used to, and I guess I'm still adjusting. You meet a fascinating cross-section of human kind. In the huge majority of cases you meet interesting and wonderful people, it really restores your faith in human nature, though you always have to keep in mind that these people are just passing through, which is sometimes hard. But every now and then you also have to deal with people that are not so likable, in most cases you can just grin and bear it......but last week we had, possibly, one of the most unpleasant people that I've had the pleasure of welcoming at our guesthouse. It's a good exercise in tolerance to try to find likable traits in such people, but I'm afraid that I failed rather miserable, I have a long way to go on the path to enlightenment!

I love traveling, and have to admit that despite having such a beautiful home and family, my feet still itch for my student days when I was able to up and leave and rough it. I always enjoyed experiencing new cultures, and just seeing new things, all the beauty that this world has to offer and there's still so much more out there that I'd love to see. But it's clear that this is not what inspires everyone to travel.....about a month ago I read 'Do Travel Writers go to Hell', a slightly dubious book, the memoirs of a travel-writer on his first big job writing for Lonely Planet Brazil, and the craziness of trying to fulfill his deadline, his struggle to figure out how best to go about his task and his moral dilemmas. It's not such an amazing book, but he does meets an array of travellers, those travelling to escape, those travelling to find themselves, those travelling to lose themselves. I'm not sure where our guest fits in, he was someone who had devoted over ten years of his life to traveling, and very proudly told me that he had visited 161 countries and had only 36 left to go, he'd seen everything that humans could do. But his complete lack of empathy with others, and complete absence of interest in Rurutu was astonishing to me. He spent three days with us, glued to the internet and quickly did the island tour on his own, and told me that he had Rurutu pretty much sussed out! He did not speak a word of french, nor did he feel it necessary to try, he simply shouted at anyone he needed to communicate with in English, assuming they would understand better if he spoke louder. He could not comprehend that my husband's first language was neither English nor French. I had a terrible time, trying not to explode into an indignant rage, tact is not one of my virtues. He was a retired academic of some kind, and somehow, for me, this made his mindless superiority all the more insufferable. And, yes, he was American...

Following hot on his heels was the 'arrival' of Viriamu's Uncle Rudi, the rightful king of Rurutu! He actually lives here in Rurutu, but he has a lady-friend visiting at the moment, and as his highly religious grandmother does not approve of that kind of thing (he is in fact a 53 year old widower, but some people are pretty strict around here!). So, knowing Viriamu's good for it, he pulled the family card and bagged a room at our guesthouse. He is fervent about rejuvenating the royal family, and believes that he is/should be the one wielding the scepter. He held 'court' on our terrace for the last few evenings, and the idea clearly was that we should bow to his every whim. I'm afraid I've never been very good at being reverent, even when merited, but I had to try to bite my tongue.....the absurdity of this last week's guests brings to mind Lewis Carroll's Walrus and the Carpenter. In fact, the more I think of it the more I feel like Alice!

"The time has come," the Walrus said,

"To talk of many things:

Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--

Of cabbages--and kings--

And why the sea is boiling hot--

And whether pigs have wings."