Island grocery shopping

Sometimes I’m just going about my regular life here when all-of-a-sudden-outta-nowhere I realize that something I now find wholly ordinary is actually kind of ridiculous and absurd. Today while the Beard and I were discussing how bummed we were that our groceries were probably getting hot in a cooler in the next village and that we didn’t really have anything to eat for dinner (okay, anything good), the whole conversation (and the events leading up to it) just struck me as absolutely hilarious.

About 2-3 weeks ago, I gave a grocery list to my neighbor who was heading off island. She usually offers to pick a few things up for us whenever she’s in Tutuila; she just adds our boxes to the shipment for her store.

The boat delivering our groceries came today but the water was too rough for it to come in to the harbor. So, a small fishing boat was sent out to meet the ship. (Take a moment to picture this: small metal boats swaying wildly against the violent waves; muscular Samoan men tossing boxes and luggage from the ship into the waiting arms of the village men below.) Your packages are not really guaranteed to be delivered at this point, ya know? It is not unheard of for your boxes and their contents to end up soaked, shattered, just completely destroyed. Or, if you own a store, a case or two of beer might accidentally be thrown overboard, lost to you forever (but not to the men who go back for it later). It’s just… it’s not ideal.

A cooler of groceries was successfully off-loaded for us, though. A friend in the next village picked it up from the wharf and was going to bring it over today, but his truck broke. So my sweet neighbor (who is still off island) called around and found another person with a vehicle to deliver it. She  said he has to wait until the village curfew ends before he can, though.

Another box of our groceries didn’t make it off the ship before the small fishing boat onto which supplies were being loaded sank. Since there were no other available boats (or risk-taking boat-lenders), the ship full of groceries and supplies for the island (including school lunches for next week) returned to the main island. It is supposed to return next week when the weather is better. And then I will finally get to eat some canned chicken breast.

Please. Think of us when you “just pop in to Kroger really quick.”

It’s ridiculous, but it’s also life on the island. And really, this is how it is for millions of people around the world. Many are far hungrier than I am, and their boats may never come at all. At least we still have ramen and canned veggies. (The village is almost out of toilet paper, though. So just think about that.)

About Cat Q.

For three years, I lived on a tiny little island in the South Pacific called Ta'u, where I taught elementary and high school English. Much of this blog is a chronicle of my time there, and of the travels we were able to do while we were on that side of the world. Now, I'm doing a different kind of travelling in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia with my husband and two children.
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