Finding Naitauba, Episode 57, Odysseys in Paradise

Time slowly paced itself and crawled languidly. It had the feel of Southern nights on a small Mississippi farms where the only thing that moves is the lazy streams of sweat down the side of your face.

Rich removed the book, Light in August, by Faulkner from the bookshelf. “This ought to really make me sweat.”

It was early morning and its light shone through the louvers of the companionway door. The book laid open face up on his stomach somewhere little past the middle.

Rich started his daily routine of splashing water on his face and first checking the weather station. He grabbed the sextant and climbed on deck to check the wind and compass. He took a reading through the sextant and settled in at the chart desk to calculate his location. He looked at the clock above the desk. “7:15, I should be seeing the Fijis by noon.” That excited him. He brewed coffee and prepared french toast made with the cinnamon sourdough bread, powdered eggs, and powdered milk.

He began eating and after two bites he said, “It must be the sea, because this tastes good and I know it’s not.”

Shortly past 11:00 white breakers were visible over the bow on the sea of blue. He was now on the eastern edge of the Fiji Islands. “The reefs,” Rich said. He steered port to avoid them. After an hour he steered to a heading of 220 degrees toward Naitauba Island.

It was near evening when Rich caught sight of a soft mound of green appear, resembling a small pin cushion. The closer he sailed, it appeared even more soft and lush. “Only the hand of God could form something so sublime.”

Rich did not want to go ashore near dark. Doing so, he thought, would be cruel to his senses. He wanted to see it at the beginning of the day to fully enjoy and appreciate without the curtain of darkness coming down to interrupt the climax. He dropped the sails, anchored, and viewed the island laying on the roof of the cabin until the island faded like the final scene of a movie.

In the morning after breakfast, Rich sailed around the island scanning it with binoculars. On the western shores, he spotted a village. He cautiously motored just offshore and used the dinghy to go ashore.

No fanfare greeted him and that was fine with Rich. He was uncomfortable with the other island greetings. He almost felt as he should perform. After all, greeting a person who does nothing is anticlimactic to a hardy and celebrated arrival.

He waved at two men splitting a large pile coconuts. One waved the other never lifted his head. He strolled from the beach into a group of single room dwellings with open doorways and windows. A rooster strutted by as if Rich did not exist.

One small boy chased another with a palm branch. They did not stop to take notice. It was as if Rich were the tree from which the branch came.

“All is well,” Rich thought, “nothing is expected from either of us.”


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