Ok, it doesn’t really. Obviously. But we did get more than we bargained for when it came to workload. Gone was the dream of spending a couple hours a day on the deep blue and working with black pearls; after spending Sunday night spooning on the farm floor we were handed a machete the next morning and told to hack our way through the jungle.
Patrick wants to create an aquaponics system, which will act as a self-sustaining mini eco system and they can begin to grow their own fruits (way cheaper than having to buy it all). However, since they haven’t had time to properly work on land until we came we had to start from square one. The week before we had gotten there, the crew had cleared out a space where the aquaponics system would be set up and had begun clearing a road through undergrowth taller than I am, a myriad of leaves, branches, dead twigs, flies and mosquitos. Our first day was spent both prying massive rocks out of the ground with crow bars and hauling them out of their holes to clear the road and whacking down brush.
After the first night Erin and I relocated to one of the bungalows on the motu. Needless to say, it was definitely more comfortable. Each night we were lulled to sleep by the crashing surf and wind at around 10pm (if you can believe it) and arose with the sun at 6am. Everyone gathered at the marina and by 630am we had all taken the boat over to the farm, eating a breakfast of bread, coffee and instant noodles before boating back over to the motu for work. As custom, we greet everyone in the morning with a kiss on each cheek. Seeing as I’m not exactly a morning person, about 22 kisses each morning took a lot of getting used to. I usually just kind of bumped cheeks with everyone, still half asleep. For the first week, work consisted of building that damn road. Day after day we chopped our way through the jungle with machetes, hacked at the coral based ground with pick axes and crow bars, jamming our toes, ankles and shins on branches and roots. We literally poured our blood, sweat and energy into the earth as we tore our way across the rough terrain.
At 1130 the horn was blown for lunch and we all trudged back to the farm for a delicious meal prepared by Leslie. We would always have a salad of sorts-usually cabbage, carrots, cucumbers and a vinegarette- accompanied with fish that the boys had caught while spear fishing at the pass, and either some sort of potato or pasta dish. After an hour and a half long lunch, we would make our way back to the motu for another 3 hours of work in the baking heat before turning in for the day and relaxing on the farm, watching the sun set over the lagoon before heading to bed.
Some days we would swim and snorkel during lunch, often swimming with the sharks. One Saturday we tried to bring sharks in by rubbing an empty water bottle underwater-the vibrations are what brings them in- and only one lone shark wandered through, seemingly oblivious to our presence. We came across a large ray doing flips in the water and checking us out. I thought it was quite cool but Jeop, annoyed, muttered, “we try to attract sharks and all we get is this stupid ray.” No, I haven’t been living a spoiled life at all.
We worked 5 days a week, same type of work. We happened to come at an odd time, the weeks we were there were the first weeks they had been able to get onto land to do work in a while. It was a bit upsetting because I was really looking forward to doing more things with the oysters and pearls, but so it goes. It’s hard to be too upset when I got to live life in a lagoon. What’s there really to complain about when every day I can sit eating my lunch on a bridge suspended over a turquoise blue lagoon, my own personal aquarium alive with parrot fish, jack fish, rays and black tip sharks meandering lazily below me.