|It turns out
the owner of the restaurant was originally from Malta and when a guest
who was also from Malta heard this, the guest wanted to prepare a dinner
for the restaurant owner!
My first seven
nights would be spent at Ansons Bay Lodge in a charming two-bedroom unit
complete with kitchen. Wayne took me by the supermarket in Burnt Pine,
the island centre. It’s on a long street, called Taylors Road, full
of duty-free shops, travel businesses, cafes, and tourist attractions.
Burnt Pine, I could see why the people of Norfolk Island drive cars. It
wasn’t flat! In fact, it was very hilly. Silently, while Wayne chatted
away about the island and pointed sites out to me, I began to wonder about
$60A had gotten
me a big tub of plain yoghurt, muesli, two cans of fruit in natural juice,
two small tubs of cottage cheese, two packages of frozen veges (green beans
and mixed), a container of apple juice, a box of tea (which I didn’t need
to buy as the unit came with all the tea I would ever want to drink), two
cans of tuna (Wayne had a bowl of limes waiting on the table), and two
small packages of walnuts and almonds. Go natural, girl! Everything
was more than I would have paid in New Zealand, but that was OK. If I rationed
well, I wouldn’t starve if I couldn’t make the walk into town to eat out.
at the Bounty Restaurant, amidst laughter and joking, I learned that gaining
permanent residence on Norfolk Island, which has no income tax, is not
easy. There are jobs, mainly related to tourism, but work permits are renewed
every year and after five years you leave the island or apply for residency.
learned Wayne, in his early 40s, had made money investing in real estate
in the Auckland area as a young man. After a divorce, he decided to come
to Norfolk as he could see business potential and a lifestyle he was seeking.
And he has found love again.
were discovered in 1774 by Captain James Cook and he named it after a noble
English family. He called it a paradise, fertile and uninhabited. Just
14 years later, convicts were being sent to settle this paradise. It
became known as “a hell in paradise.” But by 1855 all the convicts and
guards were gone leaving some of the best preserved Georgian buildings
in the South Pacific.
In 1853 the
people of Pitcairn Island, the descendents of Tahitians and the Bounty
mutineers, had appealed to the British government for relocation. On June
8, 1856, a total of 194 souls landed at their new home. About 2000 people
reside on the island today: one-third the descendents, one-third Australians,
and one-third New Zealanders.
morning, after having my muesli, fruit and yoghurt “breakie,” I set
out hat on head, sensible walking shoes on feet, backpack on back. Almost
as soon as I hit the road, islanders in every car or ute (truck) that passed
were giving me a wave. Often, if they were going in my direction they stopped
to ask if I wanted a ride. Of course I said No: I was walking into
town. The tourists were easy to recognize because they didn’t wave unless
waved to and they didn’t stop to offer a ride.
The hills weren’t
really bad…they were perfect in fact, just enough of a rise to force exertion
and then a pleasant descent, flats for a while and then more of the road
rising up to meet me. Cows on Norfolk Island were the size of…well, cows…houses
the size of houses, people the size of people and even some lettuce the
size of…well, lettuce. Tall stands of bamboo on the sides of roads played
tunes for me. It was easy to fall in love with Norfolk Island.
in cars: they couldn’t hear the bamboo; they couldn’t smell the earth;
they couldn’t feel the breeze bring refreshment every time it was needed.
The sight of
the biggest hill loomed ahead just as I passed the Silky Oaks Stables.
I spotted a Tea House and Garden next door. After an iced coffee—covered
with whipped cream—I was ready to take off again. My hostess told me
the big hill was the last before the road wound down into town...
Soon - but
two hours after I had started off from Ansons Bay - I arrived in Burnt
Pine after what could have been an 8-minute car ride. My hair was plastered
to my head underneath my hat. I was beginning to feel hungry.
stepped into the office of an island tour company. They advertised half-day
& whole-day tours, breakfast bush walks (on a bus to Anson Bay!) clifftop
barbeques, nights as convicts, progressive dinners to island homes,
fish fries (at Puppies Point near Anson Bay!), Mutiny on the Bounty shows
and much, much more.
I chose a progressive
dinner that night after the ladies of the tour company assured me they
could give me a ride home. Then, for the next night, I chose the fish fry
at Puppies Point, figuring I could walk there from Anson Bay. Evening
meals for that night and the next would be covered. At this point, the
canned tuna and limes weren’t calling me back to Anson Bay.
even know how to take a holiday, I told myself. You’ve booked it like
your Kiwi friends told you, but you don’t know what to do now you are on
husband and I had children, we did some traveling and took vacations in
Mexico and the Caribbean, but those years were limited and always packed
into a busy life trying to do something productive. For the 15 years
we lived in Pittsburgh before coming to New Zealand, we hardly ever took
vacations away from home. It was just too complicated or expensive with
four growing children.
now of Wordsworth’s “The World Is Too Much With Us:”
is too much with us: late and soon,
spending, we lay waste our powers:
see in Nature that is ours;
We have given
our hearts away, a sordid boon!
would schedule his vacations around Christmas time so he got some extra
days. Then, he just wanted to be at home resting as any exhausted human
being would. We loved Daddy being home.
Over the years,
we might have taken a few trips over to Sea World in Ohio in summer. Most
every year I drove up to New England to visit my brother, the monk, in
Brookline, Massachusetts, and Tom’s sister and family in Vermont. Once
we took a side-trip over to Maine where my children saw the ocean and a
lobster for the first time. They waved it around with the claws on their
fingers and then gobbled it up.
Now my children
are grown and away from home - independent, not really needing me around,
making their own ways in the world. And here I was, out in the middle
of the South Pacific on the top of a mountain settled and inhabited by
descendents of people who mutinied because of the gross rudeness of a despotic
I was about to rise from my chair and leave the touring company office
in strode a wiry man in bib overalls, wearing a white cap labeled “White
Trash,” speaking loudly in some kind of southern American accent! Stunned
to think I was going to be sharing this island with another American, especially
one in bib overalls, I sat back down and listened to him ask questions
about air flights over the island and tried to figure out what kind of
accent he had.
of the South are you from?” I interjected. Now it was his turn to be startled
as he recognized my American accent.
It turns out
he was from southern Ohio and had never been out of the region. He had
heard about Norfolk Island eight years before. He was 62 years old, retired,
and had come half way round the world to visit only Norfolk. He wasn’t
going to visit New Zealand or Australia, he insisted, just Norfolk Island.
As I had no
more business in the tour place, was even hungrier, and, most likely, not
thinking properly, I asked him if he had eaten. A generation gap revealed
itself as he thought I was hitting on him! He immediately asked how old
I was. I told him 58 and that I was a recent widow. “Oh,” he exclaimed,
don’t look like you are 58…you’re too young to be a widow.”
was sweet - but was my next love to be known as Mr. White Trash?
I think not! Then,
out on the street his motor mouth dominated the conversation inquiring
about religion and politics. Within two minutes we were arguing like an
old married couple. Fortunately, I escaped a café down the street,
had an unsatisfying bite to eat, discovered the town’s cyber café
and shot off a letter to family and friends about my first day on Norfolk
Island, including my encounter with Mr. White Trash.
Then I waited
for the day to end and the progressive dinner to begin. I was hot,
bothered, unsettled and not sure of what was happening to all my plans
for this holiday. Walking on mountains might require some risk management
dinner didn’t help things - the participants were all older couples. Our
bus ride consisted of a tour of the island as darkness settled and visits
to four homes: three restored to perfection, and one recently built
with post and beams from New Zealand. We were served by the owners, young
couples with families. It gave me a sense that Norfolk Island has a wonderful
at the long dining table on the veranda of the first home, a couple began
to talk to me. As I have done for the past year I, very quickly, let them
know I was a widow. They expressed their sympathy, but I could tell
this is not the kind of conversation older couples want to have when they
are taking a holiday. So, for me, it was kind of quiet the rest of
the evening. It’s OK, I told myself. Remember, you wanted to be by yourself.
home the next day and tried to write. The widow’s suitor was trying hard
to win her:
Should I court
But I’ve known
And I’ve known
And then deeper
But, she was
Time will slip
on the shore
and I’ll change
And I won’t
afternoon I began my walk to Puppies Point for the fish fry. I was the
first to arrive and watched the tour company set up tables, the food, and
then the Tahitian dancers gathered. Finally, the bus load of tourists pulled
up--older couples again. When I spied two younger women finding a table,
I made a bee-line for it, asked if I could sit with them and introduced
from one of the women there are good package deals to Norfolk Island from
New Zealand comparable to the week-long packages to the Gold Coast and
Fiji. With all my hemming and hawing I had missed them and ended paying
for my plane fare what she paid for airfare and a room for 7 days. She
and her husband had gotten this good deal, but, sadly, were using this
time away from their children to decide to split up. Like hills and mountains,
it seems, the risk of love has its ups and down.
The other woman,
Marie, a 41 year-old single business woman from Melbourne, became my island
friend for the next few days. She was a walker, too, and had decided she
would return her car after her first day on the island so she would be
sure to walk. The car agency tried to talk her out of it, but she insisted.
Then they told her they’d heard there was an American woman walking into
town from Anson Bay!
Marie and I
shared many happy hours together - eating, walking in the rain and taking
wrong turns. One of our best lunches was at the Leagues Club, a not
so posh looking place which served fantastic seafood chowder. Accompanied
by a light beer, it was lovely after a long walk into town.
I was learning
I could not do without people. I also wondered how the fellow American
I had been so happy to escape was faring.
Marie and I met at Brankas (which only serves lunch) near the airport and
shared plates of baked avocados stuffed with a rice curry and breaded and
braised field mushrooms with lentil sauce. Marie described a successful
single life, filled with human relationships. She has traveled a lot; she
wasn’t interested in exchanging email addresses.
slipped by. I accepted rides when I wanted to. On my own I discovered The
Golden Orb Bookshop and Café, read the hours away - a book called
Wild Women - and ate the same lunch three days in a row: a fabulous
tomato-based soup with chili, roasted capsicums (red peppers) and ground
peanuts - a huge slice of sour dough bread on the side to dip.
one afternoon to the exquisite Captain Cook Memorial which overlooks the
bay where the Endeavor moored. By this time, I was staying just down the
road in a home for my last four nights. My housemate, Sarah, was a
young Irish woman on a round the world ticket who was headed home to Ireland
after 8 months on her family’s farm in New Zealand. She was going home
to build a shed with her brother.
patiently to my story and then told me pointedly I had to stop talking
about my dead husband so much. I told her pointedly, after she told
me she wanted to marry, that if she considered herself a farmer, her husband
would most likely be a farmer. I read her the completed Irish ballad and
we became friends.
I met a mother
traveling with two daughters around my age. They drove me to the top
of Mt Pitt so I could view the whole island. I bought each of my children
a gift and more for my grandson. I bought a painting by excellent local
artist Sue Pearson at the art gallery attached to the unique Cyclorama
history of the journey of the Bounty which began in Portsmouth, England.
I had to buy
a suitcase with wheels. But, by now, after talking with Sarah, it would
be needed for my round the world trip. Thanks to my email about Mr.
White Trash, I began a dialogue about love with a dear friend half way
round the world who is hoping it will happen again for him. I knew
I was growing and changing. I had walked and written and rested on top
of this mountain range. Suddenly, it was my last full day and my last walk
Now the rises
and falls of the road were familiar. I had started using my umbrella instead
of a hat to shade myself from the sun. It looked weird, I knew, but it
was light and handy. Hey, I was on Norfolk Island in the middle of the
South Pacific. The islanders still waved at me and the tourists still didn’t
As I passed
the post office, I saw Mr. White Trash sitting on a bench, bib overalls
and NO shirt now. I passed by without speaking and he didn’t see me.
I sent off
my last emails, drank a mocha at my favorite café and began the
walk home. On the way, I began to wonder why I had chosen to avoid Mr.
White Trash. Why couldn’t I be friendly to a fellow country-person? Was
I ashamed of him? Was I ashamed of what he was so proud to represent?
Was it that
I was afraid to talk to men and talking to him seemed like having to start
at the bottom? I began to regret I couldn’t have at least asked him how
his visit had gone. We were both leaving on the same plane - only two fly
in and out from Auckland per week - the next day.
Just as I was
thinking these thoughts, I looked up and there, in the not-so-distance,
I could see the lone figure of Mr. White Trash making his way up the road.
Our paths were going to cross. Here was an opportunity to do something
with my repentance!
As he drew
closer I could see he was waving to the cars with a real flourish, almost
like a king would, if a king were walking down a road with bib overalls
and no shirt on!
each other and exchanged pleasantries. He had had a great time during his
stay. He showed me the latest issue of the island newspaper and a column
dedicated to him. ”Just Call Me Putt…” was the headline. He liked to be
called Putt after the John Deere tractor which made a “putt putt…putt putt”
sound. He was glad the words “White Trash” on his cap showed up so clearly
in his photo.
Norfolk Island,” he told the newspaper, “I love the weather and I could
live on Mount Pitt.” Hmmm…Putt on Pitt.
He told me
- didn’t ask - we would sit together on the plane the next day.
Sarah had a
car and we drove to the airport together. I was fretting over how I was
going to get out of sitting with Putt. Sarah instructed me. I
didn’t have to be nice to everyone I met, she said. She didn’t like Mr.
White Trash, wouldn’t spend a minute talking to him and didn’t feel a bit
guilty about it.When we parted she told me to get her email address from
I felt a hand
at my elbow. It was Putt. I told him it had been nice meeting him, wished
him well, and said I really wanted to sit by myself, that I had preparation
to do for school the next day. He was fine.
I will be,
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