Since we are a super-duper eco-friendly set-up here at Tui Place all our electricity is sourced from solar power. Most of the time this does a superb job – in fact we haven’t used a generator now for over a year – but you are always dependent on getting the sunshine. Last week we were a bit lacking, so computer time was limited and nothing new got posted here. A couple of very dull days were followed by some very strong winds and torrential rain which actually created more mess in the compound than Cyclone Evan did just before Christmas. The following day Titi, Joe and I spent four hours doing clean-up, and with some more work this week things are looking ship-shape again. The panels stayed stuck to the roof despite the wind and the sun is back, so we are now powered up and back in business.
There have been a couple of changes to the Tui Place staff. Coco (Vermin Control) has departed and returned to her former employer. She seemed pleased to be reunited but it was disappointing for us as she was a very well behaved dog after settling in. Titi has recruited a replacement already – a powerhouse of a dog almost double the size of a baby rat. A thoroughbred bush-dog puppy, probably about 3 weeks old, left by it’s mother outside a local farm building. Apparently it’s quite common for bush-dogs to do this – unburden themselves of looking after new pups and transfer the responsibility to nearby humans. There are days when I feel the urge to reciprocate by dropping the kids off in the jungle. So far I have resisted, but only just.
When it comes to dogs my main job is giving them a name, and this one has been christened Django. Hopefully it will grow up with the awareness that it’s unchained status is dependent on good behaviour, and being useful. Since a large rat would probably dwarf Django right now, and since he has trouble catching dead lamb that’s been through the mincer and plonked on a plate right in front of his nose, I guess we’re going to have to wait a while for him to be as effective as Coco was. In the meantime he’s coming in handy as an all-in-one sponge and polisher on car-wash day for a guaranteed squeaky clean result.
With the rain gone and the sun back and blazing a new challenge presented itself today. Every year during the dry season we have swarms of mud-dauber wasps building their mud nests under and around the house. They are not usually aggressive – you can sit or stand with dosens of them buzzing around without a problem – but they are an annoyance, especially when they get inside the house. The mud nests are for the next generation of wasps, a place where the larvae are laid, and the current generation of adults usually have a separate nest nearby. Last year it was in an old drawer on top of the shed, this years site is amongst the dead and dying fronds of a palm tree close to the house. Our first job was smoking out the wasps building nests under the house by burning dried coconut husks, and then knocking out the mud nests. Then, using a 10 foot pole with dried brush as a flaming torch, we set fire to the dead fronds hanging down from the palm. This initially created a huge amount of smoke, and huge amount of activity as hundreds of wasps flew for their lives. What followed was a firestorm and then general panic as we realised the hose wasn’t actually connected to the tap. Burning embers were being propelled skywards before raining back down to earth from the tree which was barely 8 feet from the house. I managed to reconnect the hose without having to put down my Fiji Bitter, and after letting the fire rage for a few minutes began dousing it down in between sips. Half an hour later the only remaining wasps were those returning from an outing to find their home was now in ashes having survived the storm a couple of days before.
So, tomorrow Titi can take Django out for a training session without being buzzed whilst I watching in amusement as she runs around the garden trailing a lamb chop on a piece of string shouting “Catch it !! Catch it !!!”. And it better, else it’s back to the bush !!
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Catching up with Taveuni “celebrities” Claude Prevost, owner of Civa Fiji Pearls, and Paul Negro, owner of Vacala Bay Resort on a couple of Big Trips up to Matei. It’s a long way to go on a small island !
As an ex-pat living in Paradise there’s a real risk of Going Troppo. Will animal exploitation fill some time and the bank account, or will it be a one way ticket on the crazy bus ?