We celebrated at anchor in the atoll of Penrhyn, on the calm windward side, by the little village of Tetautua.
Elias had ended the day horribly. After coming back to the boat he discovered that he had lost a necklace that local eminence Seitu had given him. This sent him into a two-hour tantrum. First there were real tears at the loss, then forced tears, and then an escalation into screaming and moaning worthy of a mortally-wounded animal in the bush. Adult tempers were severely tested by it all, and we didn't necessarily pass the test with perfect marks...
When he had finally fallen asleep Alisa and I regained our equanimity in the cockpit over a dinner of chicken and fish that had also been given to us by Seitu. Our fridge has been down since Tahaa, so this gift of animal protein made our celebratory meal into a real routine-breaking treat. Alisa rounded out the meal with a bottle of Côtes du Rhône that she had bought in Tahiti. The surf boomed on the outside of the reef and the village generator clattered away in a nattering, conversational tone. A fringe of stars hung low around the cockpit awning.
So Alisa, I said.
You know that hypothetical dog musher who would have married you if I hadn't come along?
I think I remember you saying something about that.
You know how I also say that I saved you from a lifetime of shovelling dog sh*t from a dog yard in some village in Alaska?
I think I remember you mentioning that too.
Well. What do you think - would you rather be shovelling dog sh*t or doing this?
I could see her smiling in the half-light.
Does it matter that my answer would have been different a couple hours ago?