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A wave buffeted the side of the boat and Sarah was knocked awake. She didn’t know how long she had been asleep, but she estimated that it had followed at least thirty straight hours of consciousness; although with all the time zones she had crossed from London to here it was difficult to calculate.
Sarah sat up and looked around. The other passengers were standing up, ready to disembark. She was here at her final destination; the remote and tiny island of Ifala, Micronesia. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in education, she had signed her services to Oceanaid; an international aid group with a mission to improve the lives of disadvantaged communities around the world. She felt excitement for the adventure she was beginning and pride for the assistance she would provide to the local people, but most of all she felt fear for all the unknowns that would greet her once she set foot on this exotic land.
Sarah heaved her pack onto her shoulders and followed the brown-skinned Ifalans out. Andy was ahead of her. He had introduced himself to her when they boarded. He was an eighteen year old Australian, also with Oceanaid. That was all Sarah knew of him. Upon meeting him she apologised for her rudeness, but she desperately needed to get some shut-eye before she passed out whilst standing. Andy stood out from the crowd. Back home he would blend in but here he was six inches taller than his nearest rival, the only white-skinned man in sight, and dressed conspicuously like a westerner.
The locals didn’t wear socks or hiking boots or shorts or shirts. If they chose to wear footwear at all it was either flip-flops or sandals. Around their waists the men and women wore lavalavas; brightly coloured textiles fashioned into skirts and loincloths. The shirts were often substituted for nothing at all. That went for the women as well. Although most of the Micronesians Sarah passed by at the airport preferred western fashion, particularly the younger citizens, the farther out she travelled the more the locals embraced the dress sense of their ancestors. She was initially embarrassed by the sight of women strolling though streets and shops with their swaying breasts bare, but quickly came around to admiring the equality women had with the men in this regard and thought her own culture to be backward.
Sarah took a deep breath of the damp, salty air and was now fully awake. She stepped onto the pier and took in the sights of what would be her new home. The bright colours of the blue sky and the green jungle seemed too vivid to be real. Colourfully dressed locals carried cargo from the ferry and welcomed the arrivals. Sarah saw that amongst those waiting to board the ferry for the return trip was a blonde-haired Caucasian. Young, muscular, tanned and handsome. He’s now the top-ranked hottie of my trip so far.
“You must be my replacement,” he said to her. “Hi, I’m Michael.”
“Nice to meet you, I’m Sarah.” That’s disappointing. This prime specimen is leaving even before I’ve arrived.
“Yeah look at me, this is what six months in the sun will do to your skin.”
Sarah had been caught staring at his body, and the embarrassment dumbfounded her. “Yes,” she responded, too flustered to put a sentence together.
“Are you ready for your adventure?”
“Not really. What do I have in stall for me?”
“Half a year of frustration, confusion and boredom.” He smirked as he said it.
“Should I run away now?”
“No, I’m exaggerating. The locals are just a little… set in their ways. They’ll be glad to meet you and show you their culture, but most of them aren’t really interested in your help. It’s also very quiet, everything you used to do for fun back home isn’t here. But the experience is only what you make it.”
“I’m supposed to be a teacher.”
“They might have other ideas. You might be allowed into the school, you might not. They already have plenty of local teachers here and they won’t want their jobs stolen from them by an outsider. My advice is, take a holiday for the first couple of weeks and don’t worry about work. Do whatever the locals invite you to do. Get to know them and earn their trust, then you will be able to figure out how to best be of help.”
Sarah wondered where Andy had gotten to. She looked around and saw him chatting with a large local man. He might be their contact. She wanted to squeeze Michael for as much information as she could get before he disappeared. “Did you serve your stint here alone?” she asked.
“Not initially. Oceanaid always has us working in pairs. My workmate.. she didn’t make it.”
“How so? What happened?”
“She decided to leave.”
“That’s a relief. The way you said it, I thought she may have been taken by a shark.”
“There were sharks circling her all right, but of a different kind. She made the mistake of revealing she was single. From that moment she had more than a dozen suitors courting her night and day, even sneaking into her room in the middle of the night. It wouldn’t have been güvenilir bahis a problem if she found just one of the appealing, the others would have left her alone if they saw she had a boyfriend. Are you married.”
“Wrong answer. You better start inventing a husband, or you’ll get the same treatment.”
“I’d rather not lie.” She also fancied having an ethnic boyfriend, and it sounded like she would have her pick of the local boys. “Is there anything else I should be warned about?”
“Probably,” he looked her up and down as he said this. “But you’ll find out for yourself soon enough. I should get on the boat now. Good luck.”
Andy disembarked from the ferry and was instantly lost among strangers. He had been told that someone would be there to meet him, but had no further details. He slowly walked down the pier, making eye-contact with everyone in the hope that one of them would rescue him. They all smiled at him, some even said hello, but no one seemed to be there for him. I don’t even know who I’m looking for. What do I do if no-one’s here to meet me? He had volunteered himself to take responsibility for a community, but he was straight out of high school and had never even been responsible for taking care of himself.
Andy had never felt more like a stranger. This was the furthest he had ever been from home and everything here was foreign to him. The climate was hot and humid, the people spoke to each other in languages that were not English, and they dressed very differently. He could not see another person – male or female – who was wearing a shirt.
On the ship he had sat next to a woman of fifty years. Her large sagging tits rested on her substantial belly. Intellectually he knew that he shouldn’t find this woman sexually attractive, but his cock hardened at the mere thought of boobs. She practised her English on him, asking for his name, where he was from and where he was going and why. All standard small talk. Then she asked if he was married or had any children. At his age? He didn’t know anyone who married younger than twenty-five, and thanks to being sent away to an all-male boarding school, he had never even had a girlfriend. Without conscious effort, his gaze drifted down to the woman’s breasts as they talked. She noticed this and gave a raucous laugh. He could feel his face turn red. “Look, look,” she said, “Why so embarrassed?” She must have thought him to be a complete fool.
“Hello Andy!” A large middle-aged man with outstretched arms and a warm smile stood in front of him on the shore. His enormous gut spilt over the blue cloth wrapped around his waist. He continued in his slow and resonant voice, “I am Hopo. Welcome to Ifala.”
“Thank you for having me,” Andy said. He held out his hand to be shaken, Hopo took it and pulled him in for a hug. Andy tried to hug back as the air was squeezed from his lungs, but his arms couldn’t even reach halfway around this barrel of a man.
“We are very happy you are here. There is another with you?”
“Yes. Sarah should be around somewhere.” Andy looked around. A blonde white girl shouldn’t be too hard to spot in this crowd.
“I see her. She is talking to Michael. He is also with Oceanaid, but he leaves now. Where you come from?”
“Aah. Kangaroos.” Andy smiled and nodded. “It is very cold there?”
“It is at this time of the year.”
“Here it is hot all the time.” Hopo continued. “I am the the brother of the Chief. I will tell you everything I know about my home. If you need anything, you ask me. If you have questions about our people, you ask me. We have cooked a big feast to welcome you. ”
Andy was starting to think everything might be okay. Hopo already felt like a father figure, someone who could take care of him. His broken English was decipherable, which meant that the language barrier with the community would not be a huge problem.
Two attractive, young women stood near them, conversing in their native tongue and wearing their native attire. How enjoyable it will be to see such glorious sights every day. Hopo saw the direction Andy’s eyes were pointed, and it wasn’t to their faces. “This is our way,” he said, “and while you live with us, this will be your way too. To cover yourself, it is not honest.”
“You mean my shirt? Am I being rude by wearing it?”
“But I get sunburnt very easily.”
“In time, your skin will turn dark, like mine, then you will not burn. Until then, we have lots of trees. Lots of shade.”
Andy was soon to meet many people who would control his fate for the foreseeable future, including Ifala’s Chief. It was essential that he made a good first impression. He pulled his T-shirt over his head and stuffed it in his pack. At least I wasn’t sent to Papua New Guinea, there I may have been asked to wear only a penis gourd with my balls swinging in the breeze. “Your skin is whiter than the sand, and you are so skinny” Hopo said, his laughter sending tremors through his rolls of flesh. türkçe bahis Andy was self-conscious about his body, but had no choice but to take the teasing with a nervous smile.
Sarah arrived and they made their greetings. Hopo picked up their packs and flung them both over a shoulder as if they weighed nothing at all. No amount of protesting from Andy or Sarah would allow them to carry their own bags. Hopo led them along the main road, which was made of sand and pebbles and appeared to have never seen a motor vehicle. “We will have big dinner tonight,” Hopo said, and pointing at Andy, “This skinny one looks hungry.”
“You’re joking,” Sarah said. “There’s no way I’m getting my boobs out in public.”
“Don’t get angry with me,” said Andy, “I’m just telling you what Hopo said.”
It might be easy for Andy to strut around without a shirt on, but I’m not in the same boat.
They were seated on the floor in Chief Lopo’s house. On a mat in front of them plates of food piled up; grilled fish, crab, taro, and all kinds of tropical fruit, and coconuts with lopped tops to drink from. They were told that the people surrounding them were Hopo and Lopo’s families, but there were so many of them that Sarah supposed some of them must have only been friends and neighbours. She and Andy were seated with the elder family members, and had not yet been given the opportunity to talk to those of her own age.
“Everything is so delicious,” Sarah said. Her remark was mostly made out of politeness. The banquet was fresh but rather bland, lacking any kind of herbs or spices. She couldn’t spot a single dish that contained more than two ingredients, although she did appreciate the effort that went into preparing them.
A woman spoke. “Andy, Do you like the fish?” Sarah tried to remember her name but couldn’t, she had been introduced to too many people in too short a time. She believed the woman was Lopo’s wife.
“Yes, Ofa, it’s very nice, thank you,” Andy replied.
“The men will take you fishing some time. Do you know how to fish with a spear?”
“No. I live on a farm a long way from the ocean.”
Ofa’s smile turned from courteous to genuinely pleased. “You are a farmer? We will take you to our farms here. You can show us how to grow our food better.”
“I don’t know how to grow any of these foods,” Andy gestured to the banquet before them, “My family grows barley.”
“Then you can teach us to grow barley and we can make beer.”
Sarah could tell that Ofa was joking about the barley, but Andy had a concerned look as if she may have been serious.
Whilst Ofa relayed the conversation to the non-English speaking audience, Sarah spoke quietly into Andy’s ear. “They’re very taken with you. You already seem to have been accepted as one of their own. They’ve barely spoken to me.”
“I hadn’t noticed,” Andy said. “Maybe their society is a bit patriarchal. I don’t think they would ignore you on purpose.”
Sarah considered the reasons why their hosts may have been so enamoured with Andy. He had not only lost his shirt and boots, as per local customs, but had also wrapped a lavalava around his shorts and so appeared to dress just as the locals do. Perhaps his dress-up game has earned him a bit of attention.
An announcement was made in the native tongue and many of the diners sat up and exited the room. Sarah asked, “What’s happening?”
Ofa replied. “They will dance for you now. They are putting on their costumes.”
A space was cleared in the middle of the room and a procession of dancers entered. The young men and women carried a three foot long stick that they pretended to be a paddle of a canoe and stroked their way to their starting positions. They wore grass skirts and several necklaces of flowers around their necks, with nothing else concealing their torsos. Sea shells tied around their ankles rattled with each step they took. They sung as song in two-part harmony as they danced and clashed their sticks together in an intricate pattern. Sarah was impressed. Their performance is so professional. I would definitely pay money to see this.
Some of the the younger women were undoubtedly pretty. Sarah noticed that one of them took every moment she could to lock eyes with Andy and smile. She also noticed that Andy always smiled back, and he didn’t have eyes for anyone but her.
The first song finished and a second started with a faster tempo. The hips of the dancers jolted with twists and thrusts, flinging the grass of their skirts in all directions. Sarah’s attention was drawn to the young men of the group. They were all very muscular and many were handsome. Their sweat left a sheen on their light brown skin that further defined each bulge in their arms and legs. When they fell to a squat and rapidly separated and brought together their knees, Sarah’s heart fluttered and and she wished she could be up there dancing with them, grinding her body against theirs. They finished the show with a final yelp and the audience applauded; Sarah and Andy güvenilir bahis siteleri with the most enthusiasm.
Chief Lopo then stood up and raised a palm in the air, demanding attention. “Very good dancing. Very good singing,” he said to the performers. Then he turned to the foreign guests, “We welcome Andy and Sarah to our land. We will look after them and teach them our ways, and they will teach us their ways as well.” The crowd cheered and applauded. “Hopo will now take you to your homes.”
“You will live in my house, Andy,” Hopo said. “You will share a room with my five sons, they will look after you.” Andy smiled but his eyes gave away the fact that he was not pleased with the situation. “Sarah, you will live with my Uncles, Tano and Mano.” Two elderly men appeared, they didn’t have a full set of teeth between them. Tano looked into Sarah’s eyes in a way that made her shiver. Mano just stared at her crotch and giggled.
“Such a pretty girl” Tano said. He and taken a strand of Sarah’s long blonde hair and was thumbing it between his thumb and forefinger. “Are you married?”
“Married?” Sarah mind relived the conversation she had earlier with Michael. It was now evident who the dirty old men were. Although she despised lying, her personal safety had to take priority. “Yes, I’m married, aren’t I Andy?” She didn’t mean to throw that last bit in, but she didn’t think of herself as a great liar, so having someone back her up might make her more convincing.
She looked at Andy with raised eyebrows. He was hesitant, but got the message. “Oh, yes. She’s married. I can definitely confirm that.”
“You did not tell us that,” Hopo said. “Married people should have their own place to live. Come, I will take you to the Honeymoon Suite.”
That was close. What a relief. Not only had Sarah dodged a bullet, but received a room upgrade as a bonus. After congratulating herself for her accomplishment a thought hit her. Does he think that Andy and I are married… to each other?
Andy didn’t know whether to be disappointed or grateful. The so-called “Honeymoon Suite” was as simple as a house could possibly be. Simpler if you considered that a house must have walls to be defined as such. Large wooden posts held up a roof thatched with palm leaves, the only thing separating the the inside from the exterior were shutters made from woven palms that hung from the ceiling and swayed with the breeze. There was no furniture, only a mattress that was almost large enough for two in the middle of the room and curtained by a mosquito net. Andy felt that the hut was barely a step above a tent, but then he quite liked camping.
He was glad to escape Hopo’s hospitality and the prospect of sharing a room with five of his children. The only time he had ever shared a room with another person was at boarding school, and that was unbearable.
Hopo said, “The toilet and shower are around the back, but do not drink water from the tap, drink from a bottle. We have fruit for breakfast.” A boy following Hopo, perhaps his son, carried a box of supplies into the hut. “You have everything you need here, but if anything is not here, tell me tomorrow. I’ll leave you to do what newlyweds do. Bye bye.”
“Goodnight,” said Sarah.
Andy just waved goodbye whilst clenching his teeth. When they were alone he spoke to Sarah. “What did you just get us into?”
“I’m sorry, this isn’t what I wanted. I was told by Michael to say that I was married so those old guys wouldn’t pester me. I didn’t mean to bring you into it.”
“We’re going to have to keep this act up for another six months now.”
“I know, I know, I don’t like it either. I was so looking forward to a cute Micronesian boyfriend as well, now I can’t have one without the entire island calling me an adulterer.”
Andy thought about his relationship prospects as well. He also may have entertained fantasies about the local girls, but now the young dancer smiling at him would be the closest those would come to realisation.
In the dying light of the day Andy and Sarah surveyed their surroundings. The shower consisted of a hose latched to a seven foot post at the rear of the hut; cold water only. It’s location seemed to offer privacy from the neighbourhood, being lodged between the hut and the jungle, but it had no screens to give them privacy from each other.
They approached the outhouse. “This is a tense moment,” Andy told Sarah, “I’ve seen some very bad toilets in my time.” Andy shuddered as he remembered the long drops he had used in rural Australia, stinking and swarming with flies. He carefully opened the door, all too aware that many animals may consider this seldom used structure to be an ideal home. Inside was western style porcelain toilet; weathered but clean and connected with proper plumbing. “That could have been a lot worse, we’re very lucky,” Andy said.
Drops of rain came down from the heavens and so they retired inside. The light shower turned into a heavy downpour. The roof is made of leaves and sticks, but its keeping the water out. The house was wired, but only had a single light bulb and power outlet; no appliances. The box that Hopo left contained bananas, papaya, a pineapple, bottled water, some kitchen utensils and a machete.
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