News, Notes, and Dispatches From Wherever Coconuts Grow
Category: South Pacific

May 22, 2006

Go, Keith, Go, Climb, Keith, Climb

Musical satirists Paul and Storm have taken the melody of Beverly Hillbillies and adopted it to a little tune about poor Keith Richards falling out of a coconut palm tree.

Some of the lyrics:

The aging british rocker got halfway up the tree
But he wasn't quite as nimble as he used to be
Years of smack and bourbon and worn away his bones
And so he lost his grip and he dropped just like a stone

The full song in MP3 format is available here.

Posted by brian at 08:06 AM | South Pacific | Comments (0)

May 13, 2006

Rolling Stones and Falling Coconuts

News all over the world this week about Keith Richards falling out of a coconut palm tree.

Evidently he fell out of the tree while collecting coconuts with Ron Wood.

Story here.

Posted by brian at 08:57 AM | South Pacific | Comments (0)

April 14, 2006

The vanishing of a tropical nation

"Rising seas are swamping the 33-island republic of Kiribati. Where will its 100,000 inhabitants go when their country becomes uninhabitable?"

Interesting Salon.com article on the situation in Kiribati.

From the article:

"I have no doubt that these islands will be inundated," says MacKenzie, "or if they're not inundated, that the livelihood of people will be very difficult, because [climate change] will affect saltwater incursion into our water tables, it will affect our plant life, and it will affect the water we drink."

MacKenzie gazes off to the right toward the curving line of coconut palms spanning the 40-mile coast of the lagoon before him. Beads of sweat cross his brow, and he raises a hand to shield his eyes from the sun.

"It's interesting," he says. "People on the islands have begun to measure erosion according to how many rows of coconut trees have died back. There used to be three rows of trees here" -- he points to the open, sandy beach -- "but now they are gone."

Posted by brian at 10:56 PM | South Pacific | Comments (0)

January 05, 2006

Eat Coconut, Get Burned?

This article* claims that the ancient Fiji tradition of firewalking has a particularly strict admonition about coconuts:

The skill of firewalking is largely practised by Sawau tribesmen living on the southern side of the island. When the time comes for the walk to take place, those chosen to participate must segregate themselves from all females, having absolutely no contact with them for two weeks and they must refrain from eating any coconut; failure to do so may result in the participant sustaining serious burns during the walk, the legends say.

Who knew, coconuts protect you from burns!

Posted by brian at 02:21 PM | South Pacific | Comments (0)

February 17, 2004

Niue is NOT Dead, ok?

Reports of Niue's demise are greatly exaggerated, as are the reports of its continued survival, it seems. Here's the "flame of the week", according to Drew Cullen at The Register, which reprints an email from "miss amanda," purportedly from Niue.
Posted by brian at 10:42 PM | South Pacific | Comments (0)

August 01, 2003

The Sad Fate of Nauru

The Economist ran an article in December 2001 about the sad state of affairs in Nauru, the smallest independent republic in the world. From the article:

IT SITS, a tiny eight-square-mile speck, way out in the vast and lonely reaches of the Pacific, halfway between Hawaii and Australia. In 1798 a passing British captain, the first westerner to see it, dubbed it Pleasant Island. That old name sounds cruelly ironic now. Seen from the air, Nauru resembles an enormous moth-eaten fedora: a ghastly grey mound of rock surrounded by a narrow green brim of vegetation. On the ground, this unlovely impression is confirmed. Strip-mining has turned Nauru into a barren, jagged wasteland. The once-dense tropical vegetation has been cleared. The exposed rock reflects the heat of the equatorial sun and drives away rain.

Unlike many small, remote Pacific islands, Nauru possesses a valuable commodity, phosphate, a sought-after fertiliser ingredient. A high-grade supply was discovered in 1900. For a brief, heady moment in the 1970s, Nauruans were, astonishingly, among the richest people on earth. Now they are poverty-stricken, unhealthy and look set to be clobbered by international trade sanctions. The story of Nauru's descent from prosperity to penury is one of the most cautionary tales of modern development.

Things have not gotten any better since 2001. "Nauru . . . is in a state of flux," says a February 2003 New Zealand Herald article. " It wants to be seen to be co-operating with the international community, and the US in particular, but it does not know who to trust."

Also in February, all telecommunications links were cut off in and out of Nauru, the nation having gone broke after plundering its natural phosphate resources. (A fate that perhaps awaits larger nations... only a matter of time?)

Meanwhile, this week, an "Australian court has blocked an attempt by the US to repossess Nauru's only aircraft, an Air Nauru 737, saying it would contravene promises given by Washington to reward Nauru for cracking down on terrorism and for helping smuggle North Korean defectors to the West." From an article in the 2 August 2003 edition of the Australian Sunday Mail.

I'm reminded of the recent Steely Dan song:

It's high time for a walk on the real side
Let's admit the bastards beat us
I move to dissolve the corporation
In a pool of margaritas
So let's switch off all the lights
Light up all the Luckies
Crankin' up the afterglow
Cause we're goin' out of business
Everything must go

Talk about your major pain and suffering
Now our self-esteem is shattered
Show the world a mighty hidey-ho face
As we go sliding down the ladder

It was sweet up at the top
'Til that ill wind started blowing
Now it's cozy down below
'Cause we're goin' out of business
Everything must go

Posted by brian at 04:11 PM | South Pacific | Comments (0)

July 30, 2003

Blogging Samoa

Andrew Hecht is a Peace Corps Volunteer working in American Samoa. He runs an active blog called American Idle (great pun, btw.) A recent blog entry:

It seems Chief Justice Patu Tiavaasu’e Falefatu has a full docket these days. There was a major drug bust at the Fagali'i airport. A 12-year old girl was nabbed with 9 bags of ganja attached to her person.

The airport where this happened is right around the corner from my house. I ride past it almost every day on my bike on my way to town.

It's just a simple airstrip surrounded by coconut palms and banana trees. There are pigs and chickens running around all over the place. It's hard to beleive that such nefarious activity (international drug smuggling) is taking place in such a bucolic setting.

Posted by brian at 10:22 AM | South Pacific | Comments (0)

July 29, 2003

Rarotonga or Bust

Mark Frauenfelder, his wife Carla Sinclair, and their two children really did it: they packed up and moved from LA to Rarotonga. Why? Here's their rationale:

We want to find out what it is like for us, an urban American family – accustomed to 24-hour supermarkets, multiplex theaters, top quality medical care, freeways, high-rises, thousands of restaurants in a 20-mile radius, and a daily barrage of media – to slow down. So we moved to the South Pacific. Our first stop is Rarotonga, a tiny island in the South Pacific.

. . .

Our goal, our experiment, is to see how simply we can live on an Island known for its simple, but pleasant and easygoing, way of life. In the United States, “simple living” has become little more than a style statement and a marketing strategy. We are going to pursue true simplicity. Besides immersing ourselves in the culture of Rarotonga, we are going to remember to enjoy being far away from our frenetic, crushing, overscheduled circumstances in Los Angeles. This is the time and the place to slow down and spend time experiencing life: exploring tide pools, connecting with each other, catching fish, buying produce from neighbors, hiking in the jungle, strumming the ukulele, and simply enjoying the sky, the sand, and the shore.

They've launched a blog called The Island Chronicles which each day provides a photo or two and a some new comments about what discoveries they've made during their stay on the island.

The L.A. Weekly has published the first of what it promises to be regular dispatches from Mark and Carla, offering more insight into their move and their new life in the South Pacific.

Posted by brian at 08:55 PM | South Pacific | Comments (0)

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