Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How to Catch a Turtle?

With great pleasure I read last couple of weeks four Puka-Puka books:

Puka-Puka is one of the little Cook Islands. These islands belong to country New Zealand since 1901.
American Robert Dean Frisbie "Ropati" (1896-1948) joined the USA Army in WW I. In 1918 he was discharged as medically unfit. With the resulting 45-dollar-a-month pension from the Army he was able to travel to and through the sunny Pacific. The medics warned him in 1918 that he was unlikely to survive another North American winter. So he was in need for an eternal Summer. Frisbie lived four years - 1924-1928 - on Puka-Puka. In three months he learned  the pukapukan language. As a job he operated a trading store.  With his wife Nga(tokorua) - they met on Puka-Puka - he had five children. 

Robert Dean's book 'The book of Puka-Puka', about his four years on Puka-Puka, was published in 1929. Contents: his South Sea trade store. Easy life. Drinking with friends. Fishing. Making-love. Antropological interesting. The Puka-Puka community back then did not care or strive for much. They worked a little. For the biggest part of the days they slept, made love, fishing, eating, played games, swimming, singing and dancing. Nothing fancy. An easy life! Their metaphor was the coconut. The wood of the tree for fire and building houses. Coconuts for drinking and copra. The leaves of the tree for cooking.

In 1938 Nga died of tuberculosis. Robert Dean was alone with four children. (Son Charles remained on Rarotonga since his birth with a great aunt.) Robert Dean's daughter Florence "Johnny" Frisbie (born 1932) wrote two books about the life of her father and her family: 'Miss Ulysses from Puka-Puka' (1949) and 'The Frisbies of the South Seas' (1959). 

All three Frisbie books were interesting. Life on the Cook Islands after WW I. The easy life and how the money of the Americans changed all that during and after WW II. Filled with tips and tricks of how to survive on a Cook Island.

How to Catch a  female Turtle? You grasp the turtle by the skin and the nape of her neck, and then steer her ashore, riding on her back. Don't do this with a male turtle because your legs come too close to his tail. A male turtle can be caught by holding your right arm under his left front flipper; then, reaching up, you can catch hold of the front edge of his upper shell. Take care for the mouth! Take care for the tail! If not, you will drown.

Sources. Maps are from Lonely Planet travel guide. The five pictures are from The Frisbies of the South Seas.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I've been reading all the Frisbie books and wonder if anyone can explain the apparent discrepancy - "Island of Desire" is all about Frisbies love for his wife Desire (Nga), but "Book of Puka Puka" has him falling in love with and marrying Little Sea, Desire's cousin, and then additionally carrying on a side affair with Desire. What's the real story?