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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Plumber from Hell

Amongst today's specials at ALDI is a bamboo bath caddy for $29.99 which is just made for our new bathroom. Well, thankfully, not quite so new because I can't bear to remember the drama we had with our Plumber from Hell.

Mind you, looking at the photos below, I think we got off lightly:


When a man opens the car door for his wife, it's either a new car or a new wife.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fiscal Cliff explained

click on image to enlarge

Here's another way to look at the Debt Ceiling:

Let's say, you come home from work and find there has been a sewer backup in your neighbourhood and your home has sewerage all the way up to your ceilings.

What do you think you should do ...

Raise the ceilings, or remove the shit?

I couldn't have explained it better myself ...


New members

The NELLIGEN YACHT CLUB has new honorary members: Brian and Belinda Laughlin, just back from a cruise to Papua New Guinea and the Solomons, have dropped anchor off "Riverbend" to go back to their hometown Ulladulla, just fifty clicks up the highway. Their 17-metre steel yacht PANDORA IV, domiciled at Bluewater Marina north of Cairns, adds a nice nautical flavour to the place and makes me want to sail off into the sunset again.


A friend of mine calls his wife "Harvey Norman" -

absolutely no interest
for 36 months.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Return to Paradise


While I was trawling the web, ordering two new books, The Office and Mister Pip, I also came across this DVD which I promptly ordered.

How could I resist? Not only is it based on the short story "Mr Morgan" in James A. Michener's famous book "Return to Paradise", but it was filmed in Samoa where I lived and worked in 1978. Yes, I know, I ought to have stayed longer but an even more exotic job in Malaysia beckoned - and then another and another ...

P.S. If you don't want to spend the lousy $9.50 for the DVD, here's the whole movie (well, almost) on YouTube:

As above ** Part 1 ** Part 2 ** Part 3 ** Part 4 ** Part 5


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Offices R Us

Lying in bed on a quiet Sunday morning, I listened to Gideon Haigh talking on ABC National Radio about his latest book The Office in which he traces the invisible history of the office. Along the way, he's uncovered heroes, villains and some great stories. Best of all, he's managed to make it entertaining.

Let's face it: offices are us. Offices are ubiquitous and office culture is global. The most powerful people in the world - our presidents, prime ministers and corporate moguls - are no longer warriors or priests, but glorified pen-pushers. Our increasingly urbanised lives are now less about growing or making material things and more about virtual exchange - sitting in an office, sliding symbols around a screen.

And yet we portray office workers as the antithesis of action heroes. Sneered at as boring or corrupt, they're more often figures of fun or derision - clock-watchers, desk jockeys, paper shufflers. Being called a ''bureaucrat'' is to be insulted - the typical bureaucrats of Kafka's stories, for example, aren't just ridiculous, they're evil, mere baby steps away from slipping into Nazi, Soviet or Stasi uniforms.

But if the rise of Homo officens in the post-industrial era has a history, why is it a history without events? Where are the stories? Where is the drama? These are the questions Gideon Haigh sets out to answer in this, his 25th book - an ambitious 600-plus-page epic that ranges from the archaeological evidence of office work in 2000BC Egypt to the epitome of super-cool 21st-century style, to the office-fetishistic TV series Mad Men.

This is how Jose Borghino reviews this absolutely rivetting book:

Haigh is Australian non-fiction's Mr Versatile - equally adept at unpicking the cult of the chief executive as he is at making sense of international cricket. He has written about abortion, asbestos and the mystery spinner of the 1950s, Jack Iverson. He's been a business journalist for Fairfax and News Limited, his cricket analysis has featured in The Guardian, and he is a regular on ABC TV's Sunday morning sports show Offsiders.

Haigh has always been an erudite writer, glorying in the precise placement of mots justes, and sure enough The Office sent me scurrying to my dictionary app for definitions of ''nouvelles couches sociales'', ''defalcation'' and the second, older meaning of ''skivvy''.

But Haigh is also an elegant stylist and the opening chapters, because they rely so much on visual art to represent the early history of the office, have the same confident zip and sparkle as writers such as Robert Hughes and Simon Schama at their authoritative, breezy best: ''In one 11th-century Byzantine codex, St Gregory of Nazianzus has his feet on a footrest, his work stored in a doored cabinet and his eye fixed on a bookmount that might almost be a flatscreen monitor … The St Jeromes of Jan van Eyck (c. 1435) and Domenico Ghirlandaio (c. 1480), propped on their elbows over bulky texts, even look a little bored.''

This familiar tone and formidable range of reference is enhanced by The Office's beautiful production values. There are images everywhere - mostly in black and white - sometimes breaking up the text or occupying the outer margins of the page. The first half of The Office is an exhilarating sweep through history, outlining the inventions and technology that have made the modern office possible.

Haigh is particularly good on architecture, especially the rise of the skyscraper. But he also devotes considerable space to the development of the elevator, the telephone, airconditioning, the typewriter, email and the cubicle. (There are also asides about staplers, water coolers and the pencil with attached eraser.) Haigh romps through four millenniums of history with gusto, but always with a journalist's eye for the telling anecdote and the memorable character.

For instance, nestling within the chapter about office automation is a brief mention of champion typist Margaret Hamma, who in 1935 demonstrated the speed of the new IBM electric typewriter by dashing off 150 words a minute while balancing cups of water on the backs of her hands!

Every now and then, Haigh allows himself the space to dwell on a topic. For example, Japan clearly interests him and for a whole chapter he revels in the cultural peculiarities of the sarariiman (salaryman or office worker) and the kakunin (government bureaucrat).

He draws on the usual array of historical documents and archival photos but the chapter is galvanised by Haigh's savvy references to films by Yasujiro Ozu and Akira Kurosawa, and to Japanese novels, TV series and manga. What could have been cold, distant and impenetrable ends up being both familiar and exotic, chatty and technical. This is emblematic of the whole book.

Haigh calls the second half of his book a ''story of office life''. Starting with a history of how people are selected to join the world of the office - civil-service exams and job interviews - it ends with tales of retirement and termination. In between, the familiar tropes of 20th-century social history are explored - feminism, racism, sexism and anti-Semitism - all of them told from the perspective of the unrelenting bureaucratisation of life.

Again, Haigh illustrates standard history by pointing to popular culture. When discussing sexual discrimination in the workforce, he compares the 1970s sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show with its 1980s avatars Murphy Brown and the comedy film Nine to Five starring Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda. This mixing of history with popular culture has the advantage of embodying rarefied concepts in concrete examples.

Offices have their darker sides and Haigh investigates the career of the ultimate ''organisation man'', Robert McNamara, the accountant who rose from president of the Ford car company to become the architect of the US's disastrous strategy in Vietnam. The Office is not a populist book - it's too long and too complex for that. But neither is it a dry, academic tome - it's too well written and engaging.

It is encyclopaedic and joyously international. With confidence and alacrity, Haigh orchestrates a cast that ranges from Billy Wilder, Michel Houellebecq and Donald Trump to Frank Lloyd Wright, Barbara Stanwyck and Helen Gurley Brown - the only Australian to pop up is a Harvard professor of industrial research, Elton Mayo, who is dubbed ''the father of the coffee break''.

Having spent over forty years in more than fifty offices in some fifteen different countries, it's about time I knew where I have been. It's time I took my first long coffee break and read this book. I've just ordered it from Booktopia.


Worry is like a rocking chair:
it gives you something to do but doesn't get you anywhere.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Villa Mamana on Telelkivava'u is up and running again - well, at least on the internet. I've just added a form to the contact page and also added a blog and all that's left is for the owner Matt Muirhead to wait for guests.

He leaves for Tonga on the 31st of January to repair the roof and repaint the house and do whatever other maintenance is required.

Do you need somebody to carry your bags, Matt?


The French Connection

We had our usual barramundi dinner at the Catalina Country Club last night with Phil serving the drinks. I've known Phil for as long as I've been at the coast. A long time ago, he was delivery driver at an appliance shop and delivered a fridge to my house. In more recent years he's followed his natural leanings and works as a barman at the local club.

Last year, with not a word of good-bye and even fewer words of French, he went to live in a small community around the French city of Montpellier. He came back a few months ago but only to do a last stint at the club before he turns 65 and qualifies for the age-pension when he will return to France to live there permanently.

His name Phil - or, as he now wants to be known, Philippe, pronounced 'feelip' - would suggest that he's a lover of horses but he loves horsing around more than anything else. He's a laugh a minute and will be missed more than just a 'oui' bit.

You're the nearest to a French barman we have in the Bay, Philippe. Bon voyage et bonne chance!


Friday, January 25, 2013

Australia Day 2013


In spite of all those bastard politicians, it's still God's Own Country! And don't let them tell you otherwise! But before you get too carried away, listen to this!

And I wished they'd stuck with 'God Save the Queen'; nobody knows the words of the little ditty which replaced it. Ayway, who's ever heard a policeman shout, "We've got you girt; come on out!" ?

Just heard on the radio about a Pom who came to Australia because it was close to Bali. Eventually he decided to become an Australian citizen because he got something out of it: a certificate and a lamington. Fair enough!



Thursday, January 24, 2013

As in the USA, so in Australia


Mind you, I don't care who wins the next election as long as she has big boobs! ☺



Early morning at Riverbend


Went to the bathroom to brush my teeth only to discover that Padma has embarked on a new economy-drive with an elastic band around the bottom of the toothpaste tube.

Then, cup of tea in hand, I took the dogs for a walk up the lane. I used to jog but the ice cubes kept falling out of my glass. A neighbour complimented me on my new alligator shoes. I was barefoot! Then he asked me if he could use my ride-on mower today. "Sure", I said, "just don't drive it off my property!"

Farther up the lane a pump-out truck - also known as 'Yesterday's Meals on Wheels' - was busy emptying another neighbour's new you-beaut septic tank, now called a Waste Water Treatment System.

No pump-outs on our old concrete hole-in-the-ground in which the microbes are busy at work. And should they ever slacken off, we just toss in a dead fish (or, if available, a dead cat) and they're off again.

Speaking of which, when they built those architectural wonders in Dubai which generate an unbelievable amount of sewage, they forgot to hook them up to a sewer system.

Instead, they haul it all away in tank trucks. Look at the number of trucks! This is amazing. They wait for days to dump their load.

Back to Riverbend for breakfast and to contemplate the rest of the day. Already it's Australia Day again this weekend. Time flies! That's the bad news. The good news is you're the pilot.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Well, I lost track of time ...


... it's taken me to re-assemble all those long-gone webpages that used to make up www.mamana.com as they were scattered over several archival sites but they're (almost) back together again, Matt!

It was fiddly and there are still a few hiccups and a number of photos are missing which we will have to replace with new ones but the basic website is back up and running.

Go to www.riverbendnelligen.com/villamamana/index.htm where the pages are temporarily stored until we can register a new - preferably the old - domain name for them.

You owe me a cold Steinlager when I come paddling to Telekivava'u!


Villa Mamana on Telekivava'u Island

Villa Mamana on tiny Telekivava'u Island in the Kingdom of Tonga is an amazing place. Created as a labour of love in the 90s by Joe and Lola Altenhein, it was sold to a couple of Americans who have so far had little success in running it as the exclusive hide-away they had hoped it to become. Not only are the logistics of operating it overwhelming but so are the difficulties of attracting wealthy tourists who are willing and able to pay the sort of rates which would make it economically viable.

One of the owners, Matt Muirhead (pictured above), emailed me:

"Malo Peter,

Do you know how we can contact Horst Berger? We are still trying to keep Villa Mamana alive.

We will be on Telekivava'u Islande on Feb 1 and are working on the roof, painting and building trails that will transit the island. We will be installing new caretakers from Germany in a few months.

Our contract with our website service www.villamamana.com expired and they never contacted us as the new owners. We would love to get it back up and add updated pictures. Any help you could offer would be great. I know that the company who designed our site is in Australia as was the domain company.

I will update you on our progress and send you pictures after our trip.

Matt Muirhead"



It would be wonderful if Villa Mamana could be revived although its commercial success is far from assured.


Telekivava'u is the longish island at the top of the picture


Good luck, Matt! And I'd be glad to help; however, your old website has totally disappeared. I have searched various archives and found bits and pieces which may allow me to resurrect some, if not all, of the old pages and pictures. This sort of 'detective work' can take longer than building a new website and some of the necessary items, photos and style sheets, may be lost forever. The advantage is that you may get the fundamentals of your old website back together without having to go through the whole design process again. So far I have made a start on the Welcome page which I'm temporarily storing on my own server.

I look forward to hearing from you again and seeing those pictures!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Weight Watchers Nelligen


Another day in Paradise: sunny and warm, not too hot and not too cold, and, with most of the tourists gone, the river is peaceful and quiet once more. We've been to the Bay to collect the mail, and send some, do a bit of shopping, and, instead of 'Cake me home', sat down for a slice of banana cake and a cafe latte at Michels' Patisserie. We even found time to chat with Ian, the SALVOS chap, who collects donations outside K-Mart. He's a South African who came out in the early 80s and I take every chance I get to practise my long-forgotten Afrikaans with him.

Before we turned into "Riverbend", we made a brief detour into the village to meet the local weight watchers at the café and catch up with some local news. The real news was waiting at home where Matt Muirhead, the current owner of Villa Mamana, was asking me in an email to give him the whereabouts of Horst Berger as he wants to give him another stint of 'island-sitting' on Telekivava'u. And my 'Booklady in Berlin' has sent me an email to say that she and her 'beau' are planning to visit Australia and could they stay at "Riverbend"?

Rascals in Paradise


In an age of anxiety men seek a refuge. Because of some deep urge, constant throughout history, troubled men traditionally dream of islands, possibly because the smallness of an island invites the illusion that here the complexities of continental societies can be avoided, or at least controlled. This is a permanent, world-wide dream.

When the island chosen for refuge happens to lie in the South Pacific, a colourful body of romance often helps to make the idea of escape an absolute obsession. Then, if the chosen island is reputed to contain lovely and uninhibited girls, the obsession is apt to degenerate into a monomania. And if the girls are Polynesians, the dreamer is truly lost.

The authors of this book can testify to the allure of the Pacific. One is a college professor who has served as head of a large department at the University of Hawaii. He has learned that three days after a blizzard in Minnesota, or a week after the explosion of the newest horror bomb, or three weeks after the onslaught of general bad news, his mail will be flooded with applications from professors on the United States mainland who think they could be happy only on a Pacific island. The number of Americans who believe that the islands possess some remedy for our day's malady is staggering.

The other author has reported generally upon the Pacific and as a result receives a constant stream of mail from citizens of many nations who have grown weary of atomic bombs, dictators, taxes and neurasthenia. His correspondents are united in their conviction that only in the fabled islands of the South Seas can they find the fulfillment that their society denies them. Were each of the islands a continent, there would still be insufficient room for the defeated people of the world who require refuge.

In fact, this chimerical concept of a haven from the world's dismay is so persistent that the present authors have felt obligated to review the facts. In this book they propose to inspect the histories of certain strong-natured adventurers who actually did flee to the Pacific, and they hope to find from the lives of these worthies some answers to several questions. Was the great ocean ever the refuge it has been popularly supposed to be? Is it such a refuge today? Are those of us who dread the atomic age well advised in seeking haven on some distant atoll?"

So begins the first chapter, "To All Who Seek a Refuge", in James A. Michener's book Rascals in Paradise. It ten sketches the lives of a Spanish lady explorer, a Chinese-Japanese pirate and filibuster, an Australian writer, a British naval officer, a French nobleman, a young English privateersman and four Americans: a slavedriving buccaneer, a politician of the Pacific, an artist, and a young Nantucket whaleman. With the exception of Captain Bligh, these ten adventurers had two things in common. They were convinced that, at least for a while, some other part of the world held richer promise than their homeland. And each settled upon the Pacific as his area of escape.

Of course, many of those who seek to escape their own civilisations are downright delinquents who hope to be free from the complex social forces that govern their societies. In centuries past those adventurers used physical force to gain their riches. In today's technological world, they use the internet and legal (or rather, illegal) contracts and electronic money transfers to live in perpetual ease.


Click here to open document in separate window


Mostly they get away with it as they prey on other whites who are also escaping but every so often a scheme is so audacious that it stirs even the most comatose island government into action - however, not before the villain has escaped to another laid-back and unsuspecting island paradise. Rascals in Paradise indeed!

Read more.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Escapism 101

"If you keep on doing what you've always done, you'll keep on getting what you've always got." W L Bateman


There are two types of islands: those you want to live on and those you want to sell. Raconteur and realtor Robert Bryce previously lived in Neiafu on Vava'u Island in Tonga and now resides at Savusavu on Vanua Levu Island in Fiji.

The one he's spruiking as Plan B to others is Hunga Island in the Vava'u Group of Islands in Tonga where allotments are still for sale at US$4,950 - click here.

Personally, I think the former French penal colony of Devil's Island has more charm than Hunga Island but as long as Robert's spruiking produces articles like this, I don't mind:

"We did it! He did it! She did it! They did it! You can too! This is how to and even a little of why in there as well.

To make this change from your homeland in the Northern Hemisphere, where most of us lived and endured, you need to go south and west, cross over the equator and then you can breathe deeply again. It is actually that simple. People run off to paradise all the time when they take a holiday to Tahiti or Fiji or even that lovely little island group called “Tonga.” They pack a suitcase and get on a plane and fly to where life thrives. 12 hours more or less from most places up there will have you in a whole new world, but like driving from San Jose California to Portland Oregon, (630 miles) it just takes a little travel time. At least when flying you don’t have to stop for gas and meals are served while someone else drives. Not too bad really.

Now, if you want to live here in paradise; “just do it,” to get Nike about it. After you arrive, just stick a stick in the ground and declare the place your home, and then stay there. That is accomplished by not using your return ticket. So, moving to the South Pacific is as easy as taking a holiday/vacation and merely continuing on with that experience. I know; there is a little more to it, but only as much you want to make of it.

To be fair I know that different countries require different things of you to allow you to legally take up residence for more than 6 months at a time. Some countries, Fiji and Tonga, require that you fly out after you have been in the country for 6 months, but you can fly right back in the next day and go for another six months and repeat that every six months, if you prefer to do that over securing a residency visa. Some people live like that and have no problem just flying out to a nearby island country, say from Tonga to Fiji or Fiji to Tonga and back. That takes about an hour and twenty minutes of your time each way. The cost varies but generally $450-$500 USD or so for the round trip.

The other way to become a more permanent resident and not have to ever fly out again is to apply for a residency visa, which is renewable and, conditionally, good forever. Tonga seems to be the easiest to qualify for such a residency. They have basically two kinds of residency visas, one is working/business and the other is nonworking/retired. The nonworking visa requirements are simple, just show an assured income of $10,000 Tongan dollars, or about $6000 USD/CA/AU in annual income. Most retirement or disability incomes suffice. Sometimes they will just accept a bank account that looks bigger than theirs.

The other visa offered in Tonga is a working/business visa where to qualify for that you need to invest $50K Tongan dollars or about half of that at $28,000 USD. Not a lot of money to invest in a business, but some businesses are cheap to set up and operate in Tonga. For example; there is a catamaran tour boat for sale there for $29,000. Buying the boat qualifies you for the business visa and residency. People have just moved out and bought a boat or a home as a business and then use it for business.

Fiji, just 400 miles down the way from Tonga is tougher by comparison. A nonworking visa requires you to bring $100,000 Fiji dollars ($59,000 USD/CA/AU) into the country, which you can use to buy a home or just leave in the bank. BY THE WAY, a side note here; The USD is eroding away, a little more each month. Not that long ago $100,000 FJD was only $46,000 USD. Now it is $59,000 USD. If you had put your US money in a Fiji bank, you would have made more than 20%. In addition, they require you bring in between $30K and $40K Fiji dollars ($17K to $23K USD depending upon number of dependants) per year in income. For the other option, the working or the Fiji business visa, those qualifications can vary, but the standard is; you bring in and invest FJD$250,000 or about a little more than half that in USD/AU/CA, then you are in.

Using these two countries as an example, you can see that getting the legal right to reside is not too difficult. Of course, if you just arrived with your suitcase and decided to stay as a more permanent resident, you would have to work out with your homeland banks how to wire transfer those sums over. Best to arrange that before flying out and that usually means selling everything and getting liquid. There is a visa application process, but not worth getting into since opening a bank account these days in most banks can be ridiculously more complex. You do need a health certificate for the visa, probably not for opening a new bank account — not yet.

I could make a bigger deal of this move to paradise, but it isn’t really necessary. After you live here you see how simple it was to achieve, then frequently you think you are still not far enough away from that crumbling tower up there. Looking back is always easier than looking ahead. Of course, there are issues in any move of what to do with your stuff. The best solution generally is; just sell it and all of it. The cost of shipping what is valuable has to be weighed against replacing it. Cars for example, talking about used ones, are cheaper to buy in paradise than the cost to ship yours and then yours probably has the steering wheel on the wrong side. Nearly useless in any place where the English have been. Anyway, it is fitting that driving on the other side of the world would be on the other side of the road. Don’t worry about adapting to the switch over, even the Tongans drive on the wrong side of the road. At least they go slow and with both hands on the wheel and one foot on the gas and the other on the brake.

Household goods are all available in these island countries. Most of the electric power is 220-240 volt, so 110 v appliances don’t work without a voltage drop device. Sell the old stuff and take the cash with you and buy new or used gear in the land where you intend to live. Everyone has their favorite things they can’t live without, so ship them, but sure enough you actually can live without most of these things because for some reason living suddenly becomes the most important thing and things lose their cling. Kind of like going to Heaven, you don’t even need shoes anymore. Thongs and a pair of Crocs or even the $10 Croc replicas are good enough to go to the opera in.

“What opera?” the wife just said with a little displeasure (nothing is perfect). I told her I was writing about the phantom opera in Tonga. OK, so some things we are missing, but the local native gigs make up for it and are quite an experience. If these shows were ever taken on the road to London, NY or San Francisco, they might be a bigger hit than the played out Phantom of the Opera. I know; nobody really liked that one; they just pretended. The point I am making is; you can’t have everything, but some things you will never miss while living here that you can’t live without back home today. TV is one of them.

This anti-TV talk could take me hours and pages, but yes, they have satellite TV in these islands and you can have it, all you want, but the distraction outside window of what nature is showing, the ocean scene, the whales passing by below or natives in canoes fetching your dinner, tends to distract us from what some faked up bizarre life situation is playing on the Tube. Who wants to watch Discovery Channel’s featuring of new killer weapons with life like gelatin filled dummies set up to take a bullet hit as entertainment? When you get out from under the TV ether you will not be interested in the demented “1984” TV news either. Sports may be another thing, but I have seen a room full of people at the Vava'u yacht club assemble there especially to watch “the game” and within a few minutes, few are paying attention. One avid fan said; “You know, since living out here, I have lost some interest in beaming into the screen watching guys running around throwing or kicking a ball at each other. However, I can see now how confined prisoners would certainly be into it.” Are we prisoners in our homelands and just don’t get it?

I just heard you say; what about my home back home, my job, my, my well even family? I agree; flying back home everyday would be like commuting to work by car from Portland to San Jose, not practical. So, you have to quit your job, if you are unlucky enough to have one. Most don’t these days, or not for long, so we hear. If you can conjure up enough cash to meet the annual requirements for the visa, you can live so cheap that you don’t need a job. Some people live off of what grows in their back yard. No one ever starved in these islands. Actually, quite to the obvious contrary, indeed. For hundreds of years and way before money was introduced out here, and way before imported corned beef was brought in, people lived quite well and actually, frankly and unwittingly, lived much better, much healthier. People live fine in paradise that have never had any money. In fact, there is an interesting correlation; the less money you have the better your health and life, if health is the core key to a good life. So, if you can’t sell your home, back home, do what so many wisely have, just leave it. If you can’t convert it into useful cash, what good is it? Don’t feel sorry for the bank(sters), just in case that was a consideration. You can have any kind and size of home you want in the islands, just a matter of money is all. Labor is cheap, materials are more expensive. The offset is a plus here which manifests in cheaper houses.

In the islands you can live very well with little more than a traditional bure, or fale as these grass huts are called along the beach. Grass huts work pretty well actually, and they have some very fancy ones. Some of the highest priced hotels use them as guest cottages, so you could suffer like their guests too, and they pay thousands for the experience. Granted, the gold fixtures and fancy extras are part of the hotel experience, but what’s a toilet cost? To build a grass house can be cheap. Ask any native how much they paid a thousand years ago, even a hundred, even fifty. Zero is the price then and now, if you learn how.

I am trying to knock the chocks out from under your tires, you know, those blocks that keep wheels from moving. Most blocks are in the mind, so just change your mind is the simple answer. Granted, there is one area that has a tremendous tie around our mind that one can’t just sell off and renew at the other end of the trail. Family, friends and especially your own kids and maybe grandkids—they are living weight to your fate. They have a hold on us and bind us to our status quo. The only valid excuse for your moving a bit further might be; you will set up a place for them in paradise too. So when the time comes, just fly to where our parents and grandparents have historically always held the homestead.

When I have asked some folks when was the last time you were physically together with your loved ones, many say, well, years, in some cases. When I ask how far away they live, most say over 600 miles. My point is; if they didn’t see them because the drive of 600 miles took too long, then they can justify the move to paradise because it takes about the same time to travel there or back, that being all day, same as driving the 600 miles. Yes, it costs more to fly, but at least you can do it. What you save in living expenses might allow two trips per year. Check this out.

Cost of living: We have had a home in both Fiji and Tonga and at the same time. In both places, if you are using solar panels, electric power has no monthly bill. In Fiji, without solar, we pay up to FJD $70 or in US dollars about $40 USD per month in electric and we waste the stuff. The water bill in USD is under $3 per month, the phone is what you make it but considering you will be calling home regularly, like we do, ours is about $55 USD each month. Gas for the propane oven and hot water heater is about $25USD each month. House and land taxes are ZERO in Fiji. In Tonga, figure one dollar per day. Car insurance is $65 per year. House insurance is 1% of insured value. Food is wild and free from the yard and from the purposeful garden; we just had to buy the seeds. We buy the fresh fish, the best at about $1.50 per pound. The open native market has about everything the garden has and much more. Some things are so cheap, like bananas, that even though we grow them, we still buy them at the market. We have hundreds of free coconuts, but they are up the tree, (called the tree of life and for good reasons — in WWII, they used the coconut water in lieu of blood plasma) so for about 60 cents each, we can buy them husked and ready to drink or eat. There are some tasty foods native to the islands that have local names that sound like Monsanto pesticides, but they are over the moon tasty, and with no chemicals. We use passion fruit vines as a decorative cover for a water tank and the fresh fruit is the bonus.

Imported goods are what cost real money. Most of it you can actually live without, well, except ketchup. Vermont-made pure maple syrup is another vice. So, you pay double maybe. Use it sparingly and savor what is imported and most likely unhealthy. The saying; too much of a good thing is not good for you, certainly applies to many of these high-priced packaged goods. Food and healthy diet “R US” is how to see the additional benefit of living in paradise. So many people have healing stories about throwing out the big pharma medicines in lieu of some strange leaves and teas. To put it bluntly, you are not going to get genuinely healthy food in our homelands, just not possible given what has transpired over the years there. Even if you live on the farm, something is messed, GMO food being one big factor. The soil is played out, or the radioactive fallout from Japan in the soil is played in. A book could be written about that situation, but in the islands, no fallout, no GMO, no depleted soil or generally, not any pesticides either. (2714 words).

OK, so I hit my number of words limit but there is so much more. Look for “Page Two” and the rest of the story coming soon—meanwhile, get on with selling out what is going down and buying in what is moving up.

As ever, Robert Bryce"

Spoken like a true Beach Boy, Robert! I am waiting for Page Two.