Monday, July 20, 2009

July 18, 2009 - Salomon Atoll, Chagos

After nine weeks in Chagos, we have done most of the things that we hoped to do during our stay here, but one item remained. We had heard about the wonderful BBQ's held on the BIOT's big red patrol boat, the Pacific Marlin, over the years. We hoped to be around for one, but as we are leaving for the Seychelles in a week, time was running out for us. Then two nights ago, the big red boat arrived in the atoll. The following morning, some of the officers stopped by each boat and invited us all over for a BBQ on the Marlin today. Last night, as we had drinks around the campfire, we all fantasized about what kind of food we would be served. While we enjoy all the fresh fish we eat, variety is awfully nice. Most of us here haven't seen a fresh tomato or a bowl of ice cream in weeks, some of us for months. Sten was hoping for hamburgers and a big green salad. I had my heart set on ice cream.

When we arrived at the Marlin today, we were greeted by Captain Neil and his crew, and a chilly bin full of Miller Lite. It was a bit surreal to be standing on a Singapore flagged ship, crewed by Brits and Filipinos, in the middle of the Indian Ocean, knocking back ice cold American beer. It wasn't long before Sten and the Chief Engineer were deep in conversation. And I enjoyed chatting with two American women who were on board as observers. Throughout the afternoon, we were all entertained by the antics of the Royal Marines (I won't go into details, but take any image you may have seen in a movie of military on RnR, and insert it here).

The crew started setting out a variety of salads and desserts on the buffet. As the boat swung at anchor, the crew had to keep moving the buffet, to keep it in the shade. By the time the meat started coming off the grill, we were all salivating. Trying to appear more civilized than we are, we all held ourselves back until the chef started passing out kabobs. Then we fairly gorged ourselves on salad, chicken wings, pork satay, ice cream, and cake. After lunch, Martha from Silver Fern broke out her guitar, I passed out lyrics, and we sang a song for the captain and crew of the Pacific Marlin to thank them for their hospitality. By the second verse, the Marines were singing with gusto.

Maybe it was the sun or all the good food in our bellies, or maybe it was meeting so many new people after months in a small community, but the whole thing was a little overwhelming. After today, I'm starting to wonder how we'll adjust to being back in civilization again after so long Outside.

Ice cream and trashy celebrity gossip magazines - what more could a girl ask for?

Ode to Chagos [Set to the tune of 'Downtown']

When you get stressed out and you know you must stop
Just go to Chagos, Chagos
Too many boat jobs, the sandpaper and mop
Just go to Chagos, Chagos
Just listen to the rhythm of the breaking waves of water
Look at all the palm trees and you'll feel just like you ought to
Happy Again.

The nights are much darker there
You can drink many cocktails and not brush your hair
Go to Chagos, anything goes down in
Chagos, you got a boat go to Chagos,
You've got to go right away.

You need a permit, send your money away,
apply to BIOT, BIOT
If you don't have one they will visit your boat
Cost you a whole lot, whole lot
Tie up to a bommie when your boat is down at Boddam
Or anchor up at Fouquet where you can not see the bottom
Avoid the Sand Bar!

Enjoying the snorkeling and walking the beach
Coconut crabs and coconut trees,
Go to Chagos, anything goes down in
Chagos, you got a boat go to Chagos,
You've got to go right away.

Everyone's fishing and smoking it too
Down in Chagos, Chagos
Petting the turtles and eating some Too-nah
Down in Chagos, Chagos
You better bring it with you 'cause there is no supermarket
Ask around and you will find that someone's surely got it
Trading again!

Bar-b-que parties and lots of cold beer
we'll never forget all the friends we made here
down in Chagos, anything goes down in
Chagos, you got a boat go to Chagos,
You've got to go right away.

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