What taste of flesh, crunch?
Glistening square salty, safe
Meet my mouth again.
Here we are motor sailing under the four lower, under a starboard tack, full and by for the JT. We’re turning 1400 RPMs, keeping above 9 knots with winds from the NE bye E, steady force 7 gusting 8.
Read as: “We are using the engine to go really fast through big winds, so it’s something of a puke factory for y’all seasickies hanging out below deck.”
The unforgiving ocean doesn’t want you to succeed. It seeks to drown you and dehydrate you and make you crazy. It is not warm and soft, but will break your back and give you hypothermia. It wants you to hurt and to be frustrated, and to never leave it. It also wants you to vomit. It wants to take you to the leeward side (“lOO-wERd” side; the side downwind) and either toss you over or keep you indefinitely lurched with dizziness over her side. But, the sea, she will not win.
It’s been approximately 2 days since we left Kirimati Island, our final port stop before heading ourselves towards the North Star and Hawai’i once more. As I mentioned, lovingly before, the present conditions aboard our floating home are trying. Don’t let me get ahead of myself; let me and my brain take you back to Kirimati for a moment…. Do me a favor and close your eyes (well, close one and read with the other). Imagine the brightest, warmest day you’ve lived through and a long, dusty-white road. On this road, picture all 200 of your closest friends and family throwing a party. Not just any party, but the biggest party of the year. There are balloons and floats with 20 people riding in the back of pick-up trucks. Now imagine that no one has shoes, it’s Sunday morning, and the finale will take place in a 50m aluminum hut, AKA church. This is the annual processional during which about half the island population walks from one Catholic church in Tabwakea to the other in London People travel from far and wide, namely the villages of Poland, Tennessee, and Banana (yes), to participate. After walking against the grain of the parade for some time, Nicole S., Christina, Jason, and I found ourselves in front of the Tabwakea church. We walked into its wall-less aluminum hut to greet the people living under handmade banners featuring the Virgin and Holy Cross. Of course the first to say hello were children. Who else but the most curious uninhibited little girls and boys will run up to strangers to demand to know them?
Before too long, the final group of the procession was leaving and they graciously offered us a place in their loaded truck bed. We thanked them with a “corapa” and hopped in. The stares were not mean, just interested and amused. Our light complexions, short hair, enormous smiles, and excessive-looking foot attire probably amused them more than we could tell from occasional giggles and constant smiles. The mass that followed was unlike any other Catholic mass. No incense, large glimmering cross with a bleeding Jesus, or pews. Just the hundreds of harmonic voices of the I-Kiribati people singing hymns and prayers.
I reflect back on this now because of the local primary school’s motto, as noted by Martini and Walter: “Struggle to succeed.” Though it could most likely be attributed to poor translation, the slogan embodies the journey of the people of Kirimati Island, in constant struggle with their environment. And to a much lesser extent, it embodies our journey thus far on the trip.
Kirimati Island has few of the natural resources we consider necessities to sustaining a population, like freshwater and agrable land. Yet, the people are happy and have a thriving culture there. They struggle, but win for their culture and people. Here aboard the Seamans, we face rough conditions and greet them kindly. Despite illness of the body, mind, or dysfunctional projects, we work hard and will come out on top. This might be the most exciting homework situation ever, but we’ll get it done. We have to. C’mon. We’ll be alright.