Green Island

Tue 4 Feb 2014 17:00
09:28.901N 78:38.24W

We've been feasting. The fruit man arrived in his big canoe and we got: banana, papaya, oranges, plantain, passion fruit, aubergine, tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers. And from the fisherman we've been getting fresh sea food daily: big lobsters (for $5 each) and a giant stone crab. So we've been gorging on fruit salads for breakfast and lobster or crab suppers with salads. Delicious.

The lobsters don't worry me here as they don't have claws. We just put them in the freezer and they slow down and die in their sleep. The crab was another issue. I had to hold his two claws whilst Phil killed him with the ice pick. He struggled hard but I knew if I let go he could nip a finger off one of us!

Living off grid is still fun. We're super green when it comes to energy use. Gas as well as electricity, as we don't know when we'll be able to get more gas. I can hear Des Kay singing "Don't fill the kettle just for one cup of tea" every time I fill the kettle, trying to estimate exactly how much water I need. When I bake bread I try to cook something else at the same time, whilst the oven's hot. When I boil potatoes I make enough for a second meal: potato salad or sautéed potatoes maybe, as it uses less gas to cook them all at the same time. The pressure cooker gets loads of use, it saves gas and water (and is perfect for pop corn!). We heat the water in the boat when we run the engine or generator, as it's only using excess power. We save that for showers as the 'Solar Shower' black bag on deck heats the water plenty hot enough for washing up. Hence we wash up in the afternoons, when the waters had a chance to heat up. When you're living in a floating island you take care of your resources, just as the people here do on the islands that are their homes.

Swinging in our hammocks on the foredeck we can see the mountains. They change so much through the day. Mostly they're far away and cloud hidden, darker grey against lighter grey, but they they suddenly seem to get closer, and loom larger, patches of sunlight on their slopes suddenly reveal the green of the canopy and the dark streak of mangroves where their toes dip in the water. I love watching them.

There's a little island covered in palm trees above us, a perfect wind break. In the evenings the pelicans come, maybe 20 or 30 of them, and settle in the palm trees ("There are pelicans in the trees, there are pelicans in the trees: won't you listen to me please, there are pelicans in the trees!". They are marvelous to watch as they fly in in formation, strictly following the lead one. They wheel over the island for quite a long time then make up their minds: yes, that's the tree for tonight. Then, four or five to a tree sometimes, down comes the landing gear, web feet splayed and they alight, keeping their wings held out for balance for a while after they arrive, somehow clinging to palm leaves with big webbed feet, knocking earlier birds off occasionally as they make the branches sway.

I never imagined I'd see pelicans roosting in palm trees.

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