Roni Diving in the Galapagos Islands

Roni Askey-Doran's Personal Page

 Hi all,

 Yes, itīs been quite a long time since anyone heard from me…. Hereīs hoping youīre well and happy... Iīm still enjoying a perfect life-style in a semi-remote beach paradise and have not been able to tear myself away so far… The thought of going anywhere hurts… The furthest I venture is the next town, usually going by boat to avoid police checkpoints, and only to buy odds and ends I canīt buy in Mompiche and to get online! Today, I had to come to Muisne to buy flipflops because someone stole mine from the beach a few weeks ago… Yes, there are negatives, but they donīt outweigh the pluses… I figure Iīll leave Mompiche sometime this year – hopefully sometime before the immigration office catches up with me… and when Iīm sure the cat will be well cared for…


Mascara (The Mask) came to me sort of by accident, which is the only way it could happen because I am chronically allergic to cats. After Roberto; his previous carer left, Mascara decided he wanted to live with me, and apparently I had little say in the matter. I didnīt feed him for a month and he still came every day to coerce me into the deal. Heīs precocious and gutsy, stubborn as the two mules that live behind us and ocassionally hilarious – especially when heīs out hunting dogs. He kills rats – the primary reason I decided he could stay, and he LOVES peanut butter. Heīll walk straight over me to snatch bread with peanut butter out of my hand if I donīt voluntarily give him some. With his claws as sharp as needles, I rarely argue… Same goes for the fishermen when he decides to steal a fish from one of the boats… This odd cat has become somewhat a local character, and is often seen wandering along the beach beside me early in the morning…


In the end, I didnīt build a house on my property. Once I started clearing and cleaning the land, head down bum up to pull weeds out by the roots, I quickly realized that the surrounding residents were neighbors from hell… The worst of them screeching at her kids and grandkids all day with a voice like a choked vulture… The dream to have a house with a little garden quickly became a nightmare; I donīt want to live there. Iīm constantly cleaning other peopleīs rubbish from my land, and some people use it as a toilet… always having to replace trees and plants that have been stolen, cut down or killed just for fun... forever needing to repair broken fences after theyīve been knocked down or torn out… Now having to fight for the airspace above my land where the neighbors have hung all their illegal wiring so they can steal electricity… (when there are too many power robbers attached to the wires, they blow up the transformers and we all have to cope without any power for 2-4 weeks while theyīre taken away and fixed, just so the illegals can hang their wires again…) and the battle goes on… A vicious circle in which Iīd rather not participate. My heart just isnīt in it. Iīd rather leave it sit for a year or two until the land value increases and then sell it. OR… make bucketloads of money and buy out all the surrounding neighbors so I can burn down their rough stick and plank shanties and plant fruit trees… In future, Iīll be keeping my eyes open for more remote bits of land without any neighbors.


Meantime, weīre always discovering and curing the various parasites, bacterias and fungi that seem to attach themselves to our bodies in this cool summer season of drizzling rain and perpeturally damp clothes. Last week, my neighbor (where I live) had something called ĻerisipelaĻ which resembles a burn mark with blisters, but is some kind of mysterious bacteria. Old Miguel went to hunt down some toads, and Nyongo – the resident healer – rubbed the toads over her skin to heal the wounds. The leg is much better and the toads both died after their bellies went bright red from the treatment.


Iīm living extremely well… Snaring the odd lobster for breakfast, straight from the sea to the table – delish! Cleaning king prawns that are still clicking and snapping in my fingers, and grilling fish that flaps about in the bucket on the way home from the boat… The fishing boats are three steps outside the yard where I live, so itīs basically home delivery… Life doesnīt get too much better after picking sweet grapefruits the size of softballs and oranges filled with pure juice from the trees at the back of the village. Soursop, sweetsop, and zapote feature high on the menu too. Although a local guy was shot recently after someone saw him up a tree picking zapote with his friends… the .38 bullet went in just above his elbow and came out the back of his upper arm. Heīs okay, the arm healed well, and the guy that shot him paid all the police bribes to be set free – minus his weapon. Sometimes life in a small village is more eventful than life in the city…


A Portugese friend recently gifted me a bag of cacao; the fruit that is used to make chocolate, so we spent a day sucking the sweet white flesh from the seeds and then set them to dry in the sun. After a week of alternately drying seeds in intermittent spurts of sunshine and leaving them over the stove where they could stay warm and dry a little more, I took my seeds to Doņa Sara, the expert chocolate maker in town, and she taught me to make chocolate. We roasted the seeds in a clay bowl over a coal fire until they were just so… Then, we blistered our thumbs peeling the warm shells from the shiny cacao seeds. Biting into a roasted seed, the flavor of chocolate was there, but still remote. The best was yet to come… Attaching the hand grinder to the table, Sara gradually poured the seeds into the bowl, adding chips of cinnamon and other spices while I worked the handle, squeezing the resulting chocolate paste into a bowl. Once all the seeds were ground, I put my hands into the mix and kneaded, just like bread dough. It was glossy, moist and thick, with the aroma of rich dark chocolate. Pure organic chocolate; as nature intended. I shaped it into blocks and left it to dry overnight. It can be used in all the same ways as normal chocolate; without the sugar overload… Eating pure chocolate everyday is good for health… (Now you understand why I just canīt drag myself away from here!)


Thatīs all I have time for… Internet time is limited, rare and, to be honest, not an urgent priority in my life right now… Although I do hope to hear from you sometime soon.


Take care, be well and be happy…  

Big love, big hugs, big toads…





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