the sex lives of cannibals

fish bones, fish for dinner, dead fish, beautiful fish pattern, lovely fish bones, bone art, the sex lives of cannibals, death, angry fish, pretty pattern

i was kindly recommended to read
“the sex lives of cannibals: adrift in the equatorial pacific” by a girl that i work with.

i know what you are thinking and no… the aforementioned “sex life” of any manner of cannibal is not actually the subject of this particular travel narrative…
not really anyway.

the sex lives of cannibals, j maarten troost, sex lives, sylvia troost, central pacific ocean, the ladys guide to adventure, rosalie melin, hot hot rays, tarawa island, kiribati

        the author, j. maarten troost, has gifted the world with this wonderfully humorous and massively entertaining story of the two years he spent on the island of tarawa {part of the republic of kiribati ~ pronounced kir-ee-bas} in the hottest part of the central pacific ocean. after his girlfriend accepts a contract to work towards bettering the lives of the kiribati natives of tarawa, troost follows right on after her to an abysmal sort of living situation indeed.
as probably predicted, hilarity ensues.

an accurate description of tarawa
{taken directly from the author’s tongue}
goes as follows:

“To picture Kiribati, imagine that the continental U.S. were to conveniently disappear leaving only Baltimore and a vast swath of very blue ocean in it’s place. Now chop up Baltimore into thirty-three pieces, place a neighborhood where Maine used to be, another where California once was, and so on until you have thirty-three pieces of Baltimore dispersed in such a way so as to ensure that 32/33 of Baltimorians will never attend an Orioles game again. Now take away electricity, running water, toilets, television, restaurants, buildings, and airplanes (except for two very old prop planes, tended by people who have no word for “maintenance”). Replace with thatch. Flatten all land into a uniform two feet above sea level. Toy with islands by melting polar ice caps. Add palm trees. Sprinkle with hepatitis A, B, and C. Stir in dengue fever and intestinal parasites. Take away doctors. Isolate and bake at a constant temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The result is the Republic of Kiribati.”

map of kiribati, tarawa island, grid map, islands of kiribati, central pacific ocean, the ladys guide to adventure, rosalie melin, nonouti, onotoa


charming, eh?
interestingly enough, when you perform an image search for “tarawa” on the internet, more than half of the results are old black and whites. they eerily portray the battle that was fought there in november of 1943, between the japanese and the united states marines. over six thousand lives were lost in a period of three days.                         

battle of tarawa, kiribati islands, black and white photography, battle, world war II

{a wikipedia find – if you look closely, you can see a tiny arrow drawn by the original photographer, pointing to a particular soldier on the top of the hill}

i was surprised at how educational “sex lives..” actually was. despite the monumental event that occurred on the atoll, this is admittedly the first time that i have ever heard of this little island nation, placed ever so nicely in the absolute middle of nowhere. i was quite unaware that any such republic of kiribati even existed, let alone that it was the setting of a major battle during the second world war.
is it just me, or do past history lessons not stick very well? i may have been more “sponge”-like as a child, but i have only felt this fervent desire to soak up information as an adult. i suppose you could say that public education never really worked for me.
{on that note, for an extremely thought-provoking video concerning america’s public education, please watch this. also, feel free to let me know what you thought of it.
opinions always welcomed.}

. . .

“It is often said that Americans have no sense of history. Ask a college student who Jimmy Carter was and they will likely reply that he was a general in the Civil War, which occurred in 1492, when Americans dumped tea into the Gulf of Tonkin, sparking the First World War, which ended with the invasion of Grenada and the development of the cotton press.” – j maarten troost

touché, mr. troost. although greatly exaggerated, i agree with the point he is trying to make. to a certain extent. i don’t believe that my generation is completely devoid of basic historical knowledge, but i strongly suspect that living in such a youthful country has done little to inspire us to concern ourselves much with events of the past. perhaps the author can explain:

“… land has been settled for more than ten thousand years; Europeans have been traipsing about since the fifteenth century, which by any measure, is a very long time ago. Yet, outside of Boston – I can’t think of anyplace else – one is hard-pressed to find a building that predates the twentieth century. In Europe, every town has a memorial commemorating the townsmen who lost their lives in two world wars. In America, every town has a Wal-Mart.”

america, the united states of america, rows of houses, suburbia, welcome to america, dull, wal mart, shopping malls, the scared life, aesthetically lacking


“the sex lives of cannibals” was an easy read for me, not just for it’s witty story-telling and fascinating / nearly extra-terrestrial milieu, but for the author’s attractive way with words. he did not succeed in convincing me to spend two years in a place such as tarawa, but his reflections of the joys discovered whilst living there and assessments of the deeply rooted fears of returning to a normal life were not lost on me.

i’ll leave you with my favorite little mishmash of letters and spaces.

“… i had grown accustomed to life being interesting and adventure ridden and, rather childishly, i refused to believe that this must necessarily come to an end and that the rest of my life should be a sort of penance for all the reckless, irresponsible, and immensely fun things i’d done before.”

i believe the word is

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