Here are answers to some more good questions.  The first few are from Dawn and the last one is from Margo.

Q:  How do you dispose of your trash? How do you keep it from smelling if you have to store it?

A:  Good question.  First, there are regulations that allow us to throw some of it overboard when we’re offshore.  Less than 12 miles offshore, no garbage dumping is allowed.  Between 12 and 25 miles, you can dump some things if they’re ground to less than one inch.  We don’t have a trash grinder like a cruise ship would, so that really don’t apply to us.  More than 25 miles offshore, you can dump most things except plastic and synthetic materials.  When we’re that far offshore we toss things like paper, cardboard, organic waste, and tin cans (with holes punched in them so they don’t float) overboard.  Plastics and things that seem like they won’t decompose or aren’t metal go into a trashbag.  We keep the trashbags in the port bow locker and take them ashore for disposal when we reach land.  We don’t generate that much trash, so there are usually never more than a couple bags waiting to go ashore.  It’s free to take trash ashore in most places, but occasionally there’s a charge.

Q:  Do you vote on when your going to move on from a place?

A:  Yes.  We generally talk over what might be the next stop, how interested we are in spending time there given what we’ve learned about it, and how interested we are in staying put.  We learn things along the way from other cruisers, locals, the internet, and books.  We also have a loose overall itinerary that allows us to leave for New Zealand from Tonga before the hurricane season is over.

Q:  Some pics of the living quarters would be interesting to see.

A:  OK…  Here are a few inside pics…

DSC01818 Port side of the salon

DSC01827 Starboard side of the salon

DSC01830 Galley

DSC01831 Our cabin.  The bunk is to the right and there are some small shelves below it.

DSC01832 Queen size bunk (there are four).  Lauren and I are in the port forward cabin, Tiff & Wes have the starboard forward, tools, parts, and hardware are in the port aft, and dive gear, folding bikes, etc. are in the starboard aft.

Q:  I have been thinking about a lot about weather and perceptions of paradise both real and imagined and wondered if you could give me your thoughts. It started with a remembrance of a man I used to work with. He had spent several years as a youngster living on an island in the South Pacific. His father was in the US Navy and he was stationed there. He used to tell me about how much he hated living there. He said people think it’s paradise but they are so wrong. After walking around the island, which took him about 45 minutes, there was absolutely nothing to do. His big game was kicking an empty can of Spam around on the beach and wishing something would come up out of the ocean and attack him…or swim away with him or anything! Everyday was the same….same weather…same food..same people etc. He said it was dirty(waste of course is a big problem) and people were so bored that all they could do was drink to drown their sorrows. And why do people who live on an island surrounded by fish eat Spam and so much meat? Now obviously that was his view as a 10 year old.

A:  This is a another good question.  The book Sex Lives of Cannibals that we mentioned definitely addresses this.  A long question deserves a long answer, so here goes…

I really think the answer boils down to a matter of personal definition of the word paradise. I think paradise should be naturally beautiful and my concept of beauty includes the places we’ve been visiting recently.  I think paradise should be more warm than cold, but not too hot.  That fits the places we’ve been visiting recently as well, especially since we’re here during their winter (summer is a different story in some places).  I think paradise should give you some space and time to reflect, think, and create.  That requires you to not spend all your time working, and we have that covered right now, although aside from the lack of a dense population, it has nothing to do with where we’re at.  I think paradise should be capable of providing some intellectual stimulation and entertainment.  We’re finding that here by meeting people and learning the local culture and history, but that’s not to say we wouldn’t tire of a particular place if we were stuck there indefinitely.

In the specific case of some of these island "hells" in the South Pacific, there seem to be some common themes.  One is that Western culture has been heavily imported.  There’s nothing wrong with Western culture per se, and the locals certainly like things like air conditiong, Spam, etc.  The problem can be that Western culture was developed in areas that have things like lots of space for trash dumps, lots of fertile ground for high-productivity food development, easy access to large markets for selling goods profitably and buying goods cheaply, large tax bases to support complex governments, and large, skilled workforces to provide the highly specialized labor needed to produce the goods and wealth of "first world" economies.  An atoll really doesn’t have any of these things, and although living off of fish and coconuts sounds good, it takes a lot of work and isn’t quite as rich of an experience from a luxuries and consumer perspective.  Within the context of Western continents, they’re financially poor and resource poor, though we’re finding that they’re often rich in social skills, confidence, community, and generosity.

Another imporant factor is that colonial countries (US, western Europe, Japan, China, etc.) have historically run colonies and spheres of influence for their own benefit (they’re putting all the effort and money in, right?).  It doesn’t benefit a colonial power to "own" a bunch of islands where the people have a subsistence existence and don’t move money (unless you want to use an island or two for nuclear testing, which is another story).  In general, it’s in the colonial power’s interest to put the people to work producing goods that can be bought cheaply and then sold for a good price in the first world, and then to sell them first world products from home to spend their wages on.  Slaves or foreign workers were brought in to fill no-education-required jobs when the productivity of the local population wasn’t sufficient (Caribbean, Fiji, etc. to produce copra, sugarcane, tropical fruits & plants, phosphate, etc.).  I’m not saying at all that the locals don’t love Spam from a can instead of hard work catching yet another fish for dinner.  They do, but it’s not too hard to see how the interaction with "civilized" countries can leave an island nation as something less than a paradise.  Our understanding is that things are more pleasant here in French Polynesia primarily because the French spent a lot of money here when they were doing nuclear testing in the Tuamotus and are now continuing to pour very large amounts of money into the local government/economy as a sort of concession.