Aitutaki – Fuel & Friends…..

Dear F&F,

July 5, 2010

Aitutaki – Fuel & Friends

When we returned the scooter we wanted to rent a car in order to schlep
diesel in our 5 gallon jugs, since the station is not at the water front.
That company did not have any cars available. We called the 2nd company on
the island, yes, he had one. So we kept the scooter long enough to zoom up
there, about 15 minutes, by the airstrip. Scott dropped me off while I paid
& showed him my license. It was a very tiny, convertible Nissan, not really
sporty. It really looked like a toy & was pretty well worn. But the roof
up/down feature worked, so I enjoyed the fresh air. It wasn\’t that weird to
be sitting in the \”wrong\” seat, since I had to drive on the \”wrong\” side of
the road. This was my first time driving a car on the left, so to make sure
I didn\’t space out & mess up I just kept repeating: Stay on the left. Stay
on the Left. STAY ON THE LEFT!

After returning the scooter, Scott walked to the Air Rarotonga open air
office & paid the worker the transit fee which is estimated at $20 NZ.
Pitonga knows ALL about us & our precious package en route via DHL as we
have made many stops by her office asking questions to learn how things work
around here. She seems to have a friendly working relation with Willie who
is at the Raratonga office & will be receiving the package from DHL &
putting it on one of the many planes from Rarotonga to Aitutaki.

It was afternoon & we saw a freshly re-opened restaurant that looked worth a
try. Outside plastic tables & chairs set on a base of old coral. Quaint
idea, but very rickety for sitting, scooting in or out, leaning elbows on
the table & even walking required caution. There were garden cloth shades
strung between trees to provide a bit of shade. We chatted with a family of
NZ tourists & as we were finishing the burger & fries we split, up walks
Dale & Jo from the monohull anchored outside the reef (x 6 weeks). They are
getting ready to move on, hopefully tomorrow, after a part is drilled out by
someone they met with the equipment to do the job. We got their contact
info. They grow a fruit wine in NZ. Their farm is on the North Island,
halfway between Whangerei & Auckland. They are not savvy sailors, but
self-taught, learning on the job & seem to be enjoying themselves immensely..
I am always in awe of these happy-go-lucky innocents.

Fed & watered, we parked the car, dinghied the short distance to “Beach
House”, loaded our empty 8 x 5 gallon jugs, ferried them to the wharf,
loaded them into the car. First we had carefully covered the upholstery in
plastic tarp to prevent any drips from causing an odor. It worked great. The
trunk was too tiny to fit even 1 can vertically. It is a zippitty-do-dah
drive to the fuel station, where we have become friendly with Bonnie. Her
mini-mart has good prices on box milk & wine plus rare finds of lettuce &
apples. I drove & Scott walked the short but circuitous route. The area
where they dock & use the big cranes to maneuver containers off the barge is
roped Off Limits. Bonnie was very helpful & patient as we filled each
container with 22 liters, loaded the car & returned to the boat. Scott did
the heavy lifting, but I put on rubber gloves to help with the air vent caps
& setting up the spouts. Our digital starboard tank gauge is still not
reading correctly due to algae and water in the tank. Anyway, when diesel
started spilling out the top, we knew it was full! We filtered all we took &
went back for another load in order to have full tanks onboard. We paid $7
to 8$ per gallon which is a record all time high. We have to run one engine
or the other 1-2x/day, depending on how much solar we get. When overcast, we
get less solar power so need to run the engines longer to charge the
batteries. Can’t wait to get the generator fixed.

Once showered & rested a bit from the fuel schlep chore, I began to cook.
Natalie had invited us over, and we MUST go to their boat to socialize
because our boat is not childproof. But I told her I would bring the main
meal. We set a time of 6:30 pm. Jerome had his 3rd day of kite boarding
lessons off a motu in waist deep, sandy water. We talked to him after lesson
#1 which was all beach practice with a small kite & we were eager to hear
how he was progressing. We shuttled 3 pots & 1 bottle of wine. Hot white
rice, green beans & chicken madiera with mushrooms was my choice of menu.
Scott was my hero & did all the dishes.

Even though we arrived fashionably 20 minutes late, it was apparent they
were behind schedule. The twins were not yet fed and sitting in the cockpit
in booster seats like hungry birds in a nest. She handed them each a whole
tomato & I have to say it was interesting to watch them both devour it with
enthusiasm. I don\’t think you would see many American 4 year olds go for a
plain full size tomato. Their 2nd course was popcorn. As it neared 8 p.m.
Scott & Jerome both dig into the treat with gusto. Natalee brings out
pistachios as an additional adult appetizer. They had been given a bottle of
Dale & Jo\’s sparkling fruit wine. I have never heard of this fruit & cannot
remember the name. She said it was something similar to guava. I didn\’t care
for it & patiently waited until the other 3 polished it off & Jerome opened
the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc I had brought. My food had got cold & my
wine warm but eventually I kicked Scott hard under the table to stop talking
story so Natalee could focus on the situation: she needed to remove the
twins from the dinner table so we adults could proceed with our meal. Ten
year old Leo gave each Scott & I the classic cheek-cheek French greeting &
asked for some of my chicken & rice. It got high praise from the 10 year
old. He is shy about speaking English to us, but with his mother\’s prompting
he managed: I like it.

She disappeared for 10 minutes & we ate the lukewarm food & wine without
complaint (Does she even own a microwave…? Possibly not!) As the wine
flowed, so did the stories. Jerome recounted with full French flourish his
battle with the wind & kite, getting dragged under water, having to find his
board over & over yet the thrill of the moment he was flying. Very sore in
the forearms, he thought he might take the next day off. My \”time to go
home\” watch alarm sounded only 20 minutes after we started eating. I
squelched it & we stayed another hour. We confessed that we think Natalee is
a saint for not drowning the twins, and she admitted that Leo is more
challenging for her. Jerome says she was born with a \”valium drip\” which
gave us a big laugh. We are unlikely friends, with only the same boat home
in common, but enjoy hours of stimulating & enjoyable conversation. I had a
warm feeling toward the twins when she told me they call us Scott & \”Wendy\”
(from Peter Pan). I have to ask if this is just a pronunciation challenge,
or because of watching me ride the manta ray on DVD.

Scott falls asleep almost immediately. I stay up reading Julia Child\’s Life
in France for an hour, lovely.

Cindy & Scott