September 10th 1982

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 0
Chris, Val, the Princess, a grand-niece

I’d heard on the radio yesterday that David Bowie was on the island to film a movie, + then later, at the party, I’d heard that they were looking for extras, so Val + I decided to go along to the Rarotonga hotel to see what they had to say.  The film is all about a POW camp on Java, so I thought I’d be in with a chance.  It took Val + I a while to pull ourselves together, of course, after the excesses of the night before, but then we thumbed our way along the road.  We didn’t have any problem getting out there, with a lift in the back of a pick-up, + really enjoyed the journey.  In fact, we’ve really fallen in love with Rarotonga, perhaps the nicest place we’ve yet visited.  It is beautiful + the people are friendly.

At the hotel, I spotted a guy with his hair cropped short in the lobby, obviously with some connection to the film, so I asked him where to find out about extras.  There, in Room 511, I was tolod to come back on Sunday at 12 o’clock, since they might well need European males –  I more or less fit that bill.  Difficult trying not to get too excited about the whole thing, especially since it might not come off.

Including Max and Gavin

Hitched back to town, again with no trouble, + called in to see the Princess.  It took us a little while to find her, even tho’ I knew where the place was.  The grounds were extensive, with a number of ruined buildings, so it was only the last place we tried that was in use.  The Princess was there with Max, + seemed very pleased to see us.  She ascertained that I could play tennis, + said that we would all go off + play a game, as soon as Gavin returned.  It didn’t quite work out that way tho’.  We sat around for ages, chatting, being introduced to various people who dropped by, reading the Princess’s yacht book, looking at old photos, eating water-melon, + being taken on an extensive tour of the grounds, past the old ruined palace, (destroyed by a hurricane), + the mission building, similar but in good repair.  The afternoon was fast disappearing, + we weren’t sure whether we were supposed to be buying meat for the boat or not, but Gavin said he’d seen Doug in the supermarket, so we made the assumption that he’d taken care of that little chore.  It was about 4.30 before one of the Princess’s relatives turned up with a pick-up, so I assumed the tennis was off, not to mention picking some oranges, another task that had been suggested.  But not at all.  Just a brief stop-off at the harbour, then away we went.  Val cried off, ostensibly because she had a headache, but really because we discovered Doug had left the meat-buying to us, so she felt guilty.  As it turned out, she was the lucky one, as I was off on what came to be a nightmare journey.  I was in the back of the pick-up with Max + a young kid, + wasn’t warmly dressed at all.  And with the Princess orchestrating the proceedings, it was a right magical mystery tour.  We went to pick some oranges, which was fun enough, but then we drove off to a series of strange destinations: the hospital, some relatives, the beach.  On the way we went thro’ a thunderstorm, + then of course the sun went down, so I was absolutely frozen, shivering even, + Max + the kid were scarcely better.  I really couldn’t believe it when, just before dark, we stopped for a game of tennis.  None of us were very keen, + we had to kick some others off the court, but none of this seemed to bother the Princess.  The game was pretty poor all round, + we only had time for 4 games before it was too dark.  We retired for a drink to a local hotel, mainly to try + warm up, but the place was pretty horrible, so I was glad to hit the road, back to the harbour + thus complete a circumnavigation of the island (plus several side-trips.)

I collected Val from Thyme, braving the trip out to the boat.  I should explain.  From the dock, one first has to get on a floating pontoon.  Not too difficult, but just about tricky enough to give one the screaming heebie-jeebies.  There’s a gap between the dock + the pontoon of between 3 + 5 feet, the pontoon is very slippery, + the dock has rusty jagged metal sticking up from it.  All one can do is take one’s courage in one’s hands, + leap.  Once on the pontoon, there is only the comparatively simple  task of getting on to the boat.  The dinghy is connected to a loop running from the pontoon to the boat + back, so that wherever one is, one can pull the boat to one, + then climb in + pull oneself across.  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  Unfortunately, there are so many lines going across from various boats that it frequently gets tangled.  Also, it is no easy matter climbing into the dinghy from the pontoon – one really has (yet again) to muster one’s courage + leap.  I tried climbing in yesterday, + ended up in the harbour, much to everyone’s amusement.  Anyway, extricated Val from Thyme – there were a number of somewhat inebriated guests aboard.  Then the repeat journey in reverse – it really does get the old heart racing to stand on the pontoon to look across the inky chasm to safety. 

We had a good meal of last night’s dinner warmed again + livened up, + then finally headed over to the Banana Court, Rarotonga’s most famous night spot.  An amazing place, it really was humming.  The only problem was that Val + I were totally washed out, and could barely keep awake.  The sight of all those people bopping about exhausted us.  Also, 2 of the famous Marsters brothers (see any history of Palmerston atoll) were there, drunk, and were being a pain in the arse.  So, we all left + went back, Val + I to Thyme, the others to Ganesh.

And suddenly, now that we are on dry land, with all sorts of options available, the entries get much longer. Princess is quite a character. She seems to be part of the royal family, and is certainly living in the grounds of the palace. On the other hand, we are led to believe there are large number of “royal” people here.

The journey on to and off Thyme seems quite an adventure, all thye more so since it seems likely we will be negotiating it quite a bit when in an intoxicated state.

The Marsters family was quite something, all sired by the same guy, all living on Palmerston.

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