A day in the life

A peek into our day on Totem: normal activities in a not so normal life.

In full Halloween pirate regalia, Niall is working on a map that we're going to age with tea bags. At 13 years old, Niall has been telling us for weeks that he's not getting dressed up for Halloween this year. It could have been the possibility of candy, but something changed his mind yesterday and he went full steam ahead into costume planning. We have the requisite puffy shirt (Seinfeld anyone?) and can accessorize with a machete, bandanna and earring.

Mairen will be an elf, and wants to make prosthetic elvin ears from clay. She's is deep in her book of craft concoctions, studying up on a recipe: it uses beeswax and crayons, so the appropriate skin tone can be achieved. She's been channeling Arwen, wearing her "elf dress" for days.

Juicing that pile of limes on the table is part of my morning task to deal with our rapidly overripening fresh fruit on board. That's just part of the stash. I've got more to write about trading later, but suffice to say we acquired far more fruit then we can eat! I squeezed almost a quart of lime juice: we'll use it to sprinkle on fresh papaya for breakfast, to stir up chilly limonada, and maybe a margarita or two. I used about 20 sweet little bananas in a cake first thing in the morning, to get the oven use over before it was too hot; I'll probably make another tomorrow. Next come dicing up our ripe papayas, pulping our remaining passion fruit to store in the fridge. As long as I'm on a roll, there are onions getting soft that can get pickled, and our kombucha needs to be refreshed.

Looking around, check out the shelf behind Mairen for two of our latest shell acquisitions. A beautiful triton, the kind we would see at roof peaks in Fiji, and a nautilus shell. A sweet girl wanted some sugar for the nautilus…a man wanted a couple of t-shirts for his small children for the triton.

On the table, we have a fan on a pandanus mat. It's hot here- not horribly, just mid to upper 80s- but the humidity makes it oppressive. The water is over 90 degrees, not quite cool enough to be refreshing. And this bay is stagnant, with hardly a breath of air; an artificial breeze helps keep us comfortable below.

Today, we're next to the remains of Rabaul, looking up at the gently steaming volcano that covered it with ash in 1994. The town and it's residents were relocated to nearby Kokopo, but the relative protection of the bay here left the port activities intact. Massive fishing boats anchor nearby. A container ship glides out. The rusty hulks of wrecks dot the shore. And over it all, the faintly sulphuric smell pervades below deck to remind us of the devastation.

It's Halloween! We have a tropical pumpkin to carve. Siobhan, who plans to be "an 80s girl," is cutting out bats from construction paper to hang. We are still with our cruising kid crew, 9 between 3 boats, and have two more cruisers nearby to flesh out a full round of trick or treating later. Another day in the life.

Familiar tasks, unusual places, and keeping our version of the holidays.

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