island life :: la vie sur une ile

I love it when a plan comes together...

Our lonely planet arrived tonight. It's been 5 odd years since we last sat before the crisp pages of a new lonely planet and plotted. Pascal and I, like all nomads, are fond of maps and maps attached to books attached to voyages and dreams... this one in particular was attached to the setting sun and a bottle of wine. How to make a pair of happy nomads come out of retirement. And all in the name of love!!!
We sat, summising, looking at the map and talking about possible routes. Unlike other journeys this one would be punctuated by a full moon's cycle. Unlike other journeys, this one would be shared.

Both of us are extremely excited about introducing our children to the joys of the road.

But wait! Before we get excited about the road and its many bends we forget the real reason for the journey: to celebrate love!

Folks, we've booked a place to dance, share and celebrate love: Cilik's Beach Garden in Air Sanih. We arrive on the 1st July, celebrate our love on the 2nd July. We'll stay another day (the 3rd) before leaving.

If you're joining us, we recommend you book a room or bungalow at this lovely, nearby hotel. If you'd like to share a room or bungalow, email us and we'll set it up for you. We can arrange for transport from your hotel to our garden for you on the 2nd.

As for the rest of the holiday, we'll be travelling round the island doecil, or in the sunwise direction... planning stops at Balian, Pemuteran, Lovina, Air Sanih and the Gili islands...

And you, my friends, we have a project for you. Because our ceremony won't be a traditional marriage we'd like you to bless our union. Instead of troubling you to write something original, we'd like you to recall your favourite quote about love- be it a poem, a line from a movie or lyrics from your best anthem- remember it and bring it to the ceremony.


L O V E : : A M O U R

Bali, Indonesia.



It is only right that former nomads choose to celebrate their love on a beach on a faraway tropical island. Of course, this celebration wouldn't be complete without you... You're welcome to join us from 24/6- 8/7. We can recommend accommodation for you nearby.

Getting there: airasia have the cheapest flights (airport code DPS) from New Zealand and Europe. Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok aren't too far away and are super transport hubs; airasia fly on from there... Once you're in Bali we'll help connect you from Denpasar to the celebration.

Bali, Indonesie

pieds nus


Quel meilleur endroit pourraient trouver deux anciens nomades pour célébrer leur amour, si ce n'est une plage sur une île des Tropiques? Bien sur, il manquerait quelque chose si vous ne veniez pas. Vous pouvez nous rejoindre du 24 juin au 8 juillet. Nous pouvons vous recommander un hébergement.

Y aller: a partir d'Europe, la compagnie la moins chere est Air Asia. L'aeroport de Bali s'appelle Denpasar (code DPS). Une fois la-bas, nous vous aiderons a nous retrouver.


without leccy

did i tell you the story of life without leccy?

it took 2 weeks until the power was turned back on. two weeks.
you know, i used to live in a bus for 3 years, without electricity. i've camped. i've travelled. done without. but there's nothing quite like living in your own house without electricity. nothing quite like the 'before dark' ritual.
it's a story of being organised.
the sun traverses the sky in a slow arc; it's summer, luckily. it's warm, so we have no need to heat. but every afternoon, after tea but before sunset, i wander the house checking.
the torches are there, where they're meant to be and the batteries are charged. there's a light half-way between the lounge and the bedrooms- just in case. and another one in either room. just in case. there's one by the bathroom and one in the lounge itself. we don't use candles. (you don't live in a wooden house in earthquake season, using candles.)
the sun sets. we wind up the radio and listen to talk-back radio. i hate talk back, listening to sorry tales of sorry lives. but just now, these are my peers. these are other people sitting there in the dark and the radio has become our link. our tales are all similar, of no water, no power, of no sewerage. while being disconnected, we're all trying desperately to reconnect by a forgotten medium.

there was something that was attached to the terror of sunset that still hasn't left.

each night i still have my ritual. i check that torches are in place, charged. i fill my water bottle. i make sure there is a path, clear from clothes and toys- my escape route.

two weeks.

each night, as our home and suburb descended into a black so complete, it was hard to compare, i had a fear that rose. looking out of my windows (why draw the curtains?) to a neighbourhood that was dark... many neighbours had left, so i didn't expect to see light in their windows, but the street lights were out too. nothing. and quiet. even the sea paid its respects.

so, we carried water. we washed our smalls in buckets at the well across the road. we invented a complicated colour coded system for bucket usage, making deposits in the portaloo across the way. it was kinda like festival camping, just without the music, or fun.

and i've never known such charity.
some church ladies from the west side of town came by to collect our washing, returning it two days, ironed, later with freshly baked biscuits.
the army were out, purifying water. there were water stations at the civil defence posts. there was free food left and right- more bbqs and sausage sizzles than you could poke a stick at. a free 'supermarket' was set up, where we shopped for baby food and nappies. the hari krishnas, the sallys, the lot were there, dishing up delicacies. there was even a bunch of folk flying hot meals in by helicopter. cos without 'leccy, many folk couldn't cook food, let alone sterilise their water.

it seems so long ago now.
but the fear still lives in me.


statistically speaking

there're a bunch of government types who study earthquakes. it's all historical; they gather statistics and analyse them then later they share their opinion.
there was another man, the moon man, who did the same. but he added another twist to the equation: he added his prediction

the city was alive with gossip. this moon man's predictions were eerily close to the reality. we were all frightened. even folk who normally pay no heed to soothsayers were wondering.

the world watched our turmoil and witnessed our pain on the internet and telly. two weeks later, the day after the electricity was turned back on i took the kids and with a friend, headed up north for a little break.

i met a woman in a park. she called herself a clairvoyant. she told me stories that within days had revealed themselves to be true...

my poor wee heart, my poor damaged head.

(here's an amusing little side story- one that would unwittingly play a huge part in my life for the following months.... one week post quake (the 2nd quake) we tried to go out on a family outing, you know- engage in something 'normal'. we went to a gathering at the local civil defence spot where they were giving out free water and food. calix went on his running bike and i followed on my rollerskates. yes, you may wonder- what the fork?! but, believe it or not, i was(am) a good skater. but i'll never be able to tell you what happened. we said our goodbyes and then i was on the ground with a bunch of faces circling mine. police, army, pascal and calix.... somehow i'd fallen, somehow i'd knocked my head. somehow i'd earned myself and my family a free ride in an ambulance to the hospital, while the city (and nation) was in a state of emergency, from a freaking rollerskating accident!)

home again, my panic continued. little did i know i was suffering from post-concussion syndrome. my behaviour became erratic. i couldn't cope with the earthquakes and aftershocks. i couldn't cope with my children. i was constantly tired- more so than breastfeeding-and-aftershock interrupted sleep allowed for. my head continued to swim, i often struggled to focus and my balance was out. i couldn't read -and for someone who reads a book a week this is a big deal. life was trivial, i felt all i could do was survive. of course, the person (and people) closest to me suffered more.

the date of the moon man's prediction approached and my horror and panic grew. i couldn't cope with the possibility of more, or worse, but i couldn't convince my family to understand how i felt.

the came, the hour passed. we breathed out.
12 hours later it struck. not the earthquake he predicted, but one worth noting all the same.
all i could do was hide in my bed, fully clothed but shaking. my heart racing faster than perviously i'd thought possible. within minutes i was asleep; i'd never known such fear without reason.

although the moon man apoligised the fact remained, in my eyes, that statistically speaking he was right. the full moon's proximity to the earth added a gravitational pull to the equation... the full moon, as history will tell you, increased my panic and my madness...

the new normal

my eyes were like giant orbs on stalks as i drove the slow journey of escape from my home. the street was filled with people, crying, hugging, looking around in bewilderment at their strange new world. the road, cracked, bumpy and filling with pot-holes and flooding from liquefaction would remain in this state for months to come.
the air, although still, was filled with a sense of panic. everyone was on their way somewhere- home, to school or somewhere else- simply escaping.
my eyes hurt.

in my haste to leave, gathering the few belongings i could carry, i failed to notice our chimney had fallen over and smashed a hole in the roof.

we arrived at the swedes, our refuge, and gathered with our friends. we hugged, we swept up; the children carried on playing although a little confused by suddenly being instructed to wear shoes in the house. we opened a bottle of wine- as much to celebrate being together as to calm our nerves. we clung to the battery operated radio (a crab who normally resides in the shower), listening for updates- hoping for good news.

the earth continued to shake. each time we all looked quickly to one another to see if we needed to take shelter. helicopters flew low overhead.

suddenly it dawned on me- our german exchange student would be returning from her school camping trip this afternoon- where was she? how would she get home? i tried her mobile- no answer. i sent a text. i tried to call her school but with 400000 other calls being placed at the same time, the system was overloaded.
i ran to a nearby friend's place knowing she had a very old dial phone that would work without electricity.
no luck.
i ran back. i tried the phone again, texted- nothing. no reply.
where was she?

pascal and tom decided there was only one option: that was to drive to the school in tom's 4WD van to find her... the 16km round trip took nearly 3 hours.

while listening to the radio we heard calls from people, pleas to help find lost friends and relatives. i called the radio station and let them know i was looking for our host-daughter...

just as i'd finished my call, call waiting told me i had someone trying to get through: an international number.

it was linnea's father.

"i'm sorry, i don't know where your daughter is" was all i could manage as my throat choked and tears ran down my face.
"it's ok," he says in his stilted accent. "she is with friends."

the school, unable (or unwilling) to make it to brighton, dropped her with a friend in a suburb more than 10km away... i was furious, but relieved.

later we shared a nervous meal with friends as the earth continued to shake. we had no water, no power, no sewerage but we still had each other- a lot more than some people had. we later returned home, to darkness and fear. wondering what would this mean- is this now our future? is this now our new normal?


Just when you thought you could relax

it was a strange day, one that would forever be filled with 400000 stories of what-if.

this day could be a film.

it rained. not heavily, but that annoying drizzly kind of rain that soaks you all the same (you know, lets you think you might get away without a coat...) but heavily enough to make me reconsider my plans.

the children slept, the rain fell, i thought let the day be; we stayed home. i was organised, for once, and decided to cook the evening's meal, setting it to reheat in time for tea. i surfed the net, boasting to friends online about what had i left to do other than to get drunk.

luckily i remained sober.

jola awoke, she ate. she came and sat on my knee while i continued surfing, waiting for her brother to wake. his gentle sleep on the couch behind me finished with a stir and a cry; jola and i went to comfort him. within minutes (was it hours?) our world changed again.

there was no warning sound that i heard. just a bang. and the sound of the house rising up and dropping down again. and the children screaming. and me screaming. and cupboards opening and their contents falling to the floor. of glass breaking. in slow motion (or real time?) i looked round the room while i saw books pour from the bookshelf onto the seat where i had been sitting. a picture fell from the wall. a mask leapt to the floor. and something happened behind me that made me act, throwing my children to the floor, sheltering them with my body.

we, three, in the middle of the room in a blind panic. my son chanting -veux dormir, my daughter's face wet with tears despite me trying to calm her with my breast. typing 'frightened' doesn't even contain enough heartbeats to really encapsulate its significance.

we, three, in the middle of the room unsure of where or what or how. i saw the floor littered with broken things, knowing we wore no shoes in the house but unsure of the solution.

i held them tight.

it seems, before the earth had finished its prehistoric dance, my phone was ringing beneath the clutter and debris on the floor. papa pascal.

we cried into the phone, come home. the earth continued to shake; the children screaming, i had no idea what he was saying, but i asked him the impossible -i need to know where it was!

this shake was so violent, so intense, that it had to be closer than darfield. was it under my house? was it at sea? we had no way of knowing. we just had to carry on living for that moment.

it seems, before the earth had finished its new boogy, (the fandango chachacha?) i heard the noise of the gate opening. papa? already?

we, three, holding each other tightly, the phone clenched in my fist, turned to see our beautiful friend and her son shine the brightest ray of hope my life has ever witnessed. she opened our door and came in, hugging us, reassuring us that in fact, everything was going to be ok.

we went outside and while the earth continued to shake it didn't seem so threatening outside. the boys, happy to see each other, immediately went about the pressing business of play and when i heard my neighbour's door slam shut i went to see if they were ok. on the footpath we met, talking small while sweating large. i turned and again witnessed the surreality of slow motion as the road in front of me swelled, rose up, and exploded, sending a filthy brown fluid flooding towards my home.

i turned and ran.

my beautiful friend met me half way -there's water coming up quickly in your back garden; grab some stuff, we gotta go!

at the same moment (was it?) her very capable husband arrived. he put the two small boys safely in his van, where they carried on playing oblivious to their peril. with dirty brown liquid flooding towards my house from two directions i ran with a panic a blind man would be proud of.

in our two years of living in this home, (my first) i'd two trial evacuations. both with a little humour and no real threat, but evacuations all the same. they meant shit.
from our garage i grabbed what i could find, amongst the turmoil and rising floodwaters, of our preparedness kit. i puzzled myself with the dilemma of noshoesinthehouse while trying to get the things we needed to go quickly- passports, hard-drive, nappies, the dinner i'd cooked, some toys. all piled into a washing basket.

i scribbled a note to leave on the door -gone to t&l. i replaced it with another, -watch for broken glass. i couldn't open the door. the house had moved and the front door wouldn't open. with force (my beautiful friend's husband has both good timing and considerable force) the door opened, but wouldn't shut again properly.
my poor brain couldn't really cope.

we drove, slowly, to my friends' home to see what would happen next.

The Big One

our isles exist due to tectonic plate movement. the constant movement and evolution of the earth brought aotearoa to the surface. we studied these movements at school. the backbone of my island is rippled by the alpine fault; in geography lessons this would be the cause of The Big One.

before dawn we learnt, from our car radio (the best $3 ever spent), that the earthquake measuring 7.3 was centred in darfield, some 50km from my home.

but heck, i live an hour and a half's drive from the alps! darfield, even on a bad day, wouldn't take me 40 minutes! what was this, fault? and heck, what are you talking about, aftershocks? we didn't learn this word at school!

once brave enough to venture outdoors to face that morning's new truth we were to learn many new ideas of normal. but heck, what had we to moan about? by midday there were no reports of any fatalities. earlier that year there'd been an earthquake of similar magnitude in haiti that killed people in their thousands...

in fact, we were quite pleased with ourselves. we'd been prepared, after all, and had supplies as simple as water. our road was a little broken, but nothing too bad. our house had a few new cracks, but nothing too bad. we'd just survived The Big One.

oh, yes, those pesky aftershocks. they numbered in their hundreds. and then their thousands. they woke us when we didn't need waking. and while they shook us night and day they always revealed themselves beforehand with their ominous rumble. they shook my fear of lightning out of my soul.