The Island Chronicles messages

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Wow! That's amazing... I am VERY impressed - enjoy, and please, as often as you can, let us know how it is. I'm so very jealous, and yet I wouldn't ever have to guts to do something similar. -- Jonathan Rouse


wow, that's so amazing. have a great time and please, please let us know how it goes.-- blue


"Good luck in the Cooks -- I was there last year as part of a larger trip and had a great time. Regarding Raro, be warned that the roosters there are really freaking annoying. I'm serious: bring earplugs or you'll be up at dawn every day.

Depending on where you're staying, you may have a solar water heater -- in which case you might want to shower in the afternoons (first thing in the morning can be mighty chilly).

Keep the kids away from coconut crabs, as those beggars have claws large enough to pick up a small car. Speaking of which, if you go walking at night along the main road bring a flashlight or you're liable to get mowed down by a tourist on a moped.

I've heard wonderful things about Aitutaki, so I'd say you should check it out while you're in the area.

Lastly: skip Fiji. It sucks compared to the other islands; poorer, more dangerous and generally less attractive. Mind you, other people disagree with me on that, but if I had to choose between time on Raro or time in Fiji, I'd drop Fiji in the blink of an eye." -- Tarkan


Mark is officially the coolest guy on the planet. Move over Boing Boing this man is on a mission. -- Billy Hayes


"Barren outpost in Nova Scotia?" As someone born there, I gotta say that it sounds like you've never been. That said, NS has nothing on the South Pacific. Man, I tried to talk my wife into taking a job in Trinidad and Tobago, but no, we had to move to Utah and then Northern British Columbia. Have fun, you lucky bastage." -- Derryl Murphy


"Mark - the islands are beautiful. My wife and I stayed in Moorea, Bora Bora and Tahiti almost a year ago and had a great time and enjoyed great weather.

Bring gallons of sunscreen from the states as it is a bit more pricey there. I've never gone through so much in my life.

Tarkan is right about the rosters - they are awful. Most people get up at dawn (which comes earlier than you would imagine) and go to bed early.

Yes, there are many cybercafes, but don't expect the speeds you get in the US or Europe. It takes a lot longer to do anything. You'll want to start browsing without images again." Nick Gaydos


If you land in French Polynesia, visit Rangiroa and Manihi, two tiny and peaceful atolls away from the crowds(e.g., BoraBora, Tahiti). Fantastic scuba diving. Have a great time! -- Mike


This doesn't add up. Writers and illustrators simply don't earn enough money to do what this guy is doing. He either married into money or he has money from some other source in order to indulge himself in this career. I think he should own up in his online resume if he wants to keep any credibility. This is not sour grapes - even thought it seems like it. Good luck - and more power to him for being so bold in his personal life! But to be able to take a year off and do something this decadent takes more than a writer's paycheck - unless of course you're Dave Barry perhaps, or a highly paid illustrator like... like... ... frankly, I can't think of any. --Arthur

Dear Arthur: Carla and I are freelance writers, and I am also an illustrator. We can work from anywhere in the world. -- Mark


"This sounds very cool!

Living on tropical islands, as opposed to visiting them as a tourist, may not necessarily cost globs of bucks. Resorts cost money; restaurant meals cost money. Modest rented housing and do-it-yourself meals might not.

Note that Mark & Carla can _still work_ at their freelance jobs when they're out there!" Stefan Jones


I spent a lot of time in the Trust Territories in the 80s. I'd go for a week at a time and had problems readjusting to shoes in California on my return to concrete sidewalks. Enjoy, but tell the kids about the crabs before they scream at you about them. topgold


"I lived in Micronesia in the mid eighties, and spent part of the time on a very small atoll. It's good and bad. Sometimes the small town politics are a drag, but looking up at the night sky or feeling the excitement when a boat shows up with supplies after running out of soy sauce is an experience. And the fish is incredible (some are poisonous.) One more tip: drink too many green coconuts and you'll get the runs.

Anyway, I think you are taking the whole ""switching"" thing a little far, along with the Ukelele obsession :)" Craniac


This looks fun. I'm bookmarking your Chronicles separately and look forward to keeping up with your adventures on a regular basis, Mark. -- Howard Wen


"Arthur - he's not quitting his job. He *is* writing. You can write anywhere. And it certainly sounds like a great pitch for a book.

Have fun, Mark! Tell us the good bits and the bad bits too!" -- Danny O'Brien


"Hoo boy you sure picked a good island to go to. Although from the pictures I've seen, Rangiroa stretches the definition of 'island' -- more like a ring of coral around a body of azure-blue water. Pretty damn dramatic stuff.

You mentioned you were starting at Rangiroa and going on to other places. My wife and I were in Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea a couple years ago. We were there in early June and got hit with some pretty intense tropical storms the first few days. Rangiroa was also on our list but we just ran out of time.

I'm guessing you've already been at least through Papeete since most airlines go there first. We thought Papeete was basically a small version of Marseille and didn't want to spend more than a few days there (although once there, I'd highly recommend visiting the municipal pier where they have food-service trucks serving fresh-baked Galettes -- buckwheat crepes -- and live music on weekends. The whole town, families, kids and pets, come out to dance and eat).

Of all the islands, we thought Moorea was the most amazing place in the whole wide world. Roosters freely roaming around the airport terminal were one of the highlights. However, the folks there basically told us ""if you think this is nice, you should see Rangiroa."" So there...

I don't remember if Rangiroa is English or French-speaking, but in the rest of Tahiti, once you get away from the resorts, some French will make things a lot easier.

What a great adventure. I'm very much looking forward to seeing the pictures and reading the stories... Best of luck. -- raminf


Need, like, an assistant or babysitter or anything? I can cook, too! -- SixDifferentWays


You rock, Mark. Hope it's everything you want it to be and more. Can't wait to read about it. -- Woot


Arthur's post said he didn't believe you could travel for a year on a writers wages. Rubbish. I did it for £450 and travelled the world for a year. I worked in Australia and New Zealand for 6 months in total, travelling in that time too.

I went to Raratonga last year as part of my trip and loved it. The dancing springs to mind as my over-riding memory, its the best example of their really strong culture. Watch out for stray dogs, they are a problem, I know a girl who was bitten, plus they have a habit of running out into the road in front of your scooter. Give scuba-diving a shot, they have some of the world's best reefs that are deserted (from humans that is!).

Unforuntately Raro has a problem with food, they export so much fish and other produce that they end up importing tins of tuna and vegetables, so its actually quite hard to buy fresh food there unless you've grown it yourself. Wear mossie repellant in the day as well as at night, there were problems with outbreaks of dengue fever, plus mossies are around all day long. Aitutaki has it particularily bad, they are the size of horseflies out there!

I would try and get out to the other more remote islands, I didn't really feel that remote being on Rarotonga, it is quite touristy but obviously nothing like Fiji etc. If Id had longer I would have gone to the islands you can only visit by cargo ship and have an unknown length of time to wait before the ship comes back again.

Kiaora, the best of luck for your trip!

Stories of my travels: -- Carrie White


Mark, I applaude your decision to Go Slow for a year. I ejected from Silicon Alley in 1998 and ended up meeting a friend who was in the midst of a year-long world tour. After two weeks in Thailand, I just wasn't ready to go home. the day before I left I was introduced to a woman who owned a dive shop on a tiny island near Bali called gili Trawangan. No cars, mostly locals, and this was the exact week that the currency dive happend, everyone european worker/sun worshipper was packing to leave the country when we showed up. We flew into Jakarta while I nervously asked if "those buildings down there were supposed to be on fire", talk about a scary welcoming. There I was, the webmaster for a dive shop in Indonesia, and getting paid in eggs and goat milk and free diving. 4 months later I came home. What happened in between is a subset of what you will be going through and I can't wait to hear your stories! Walking barefoot when you get home will be a a big issue, just you wait and see. Best of luck and don' worry about daily blogging and photos, post what and when you can, you'll feel much better without the added pressure. In fact I will be diapointed if you post every day, that means you're truely not Going Slow. -- relaxedguy


It's the cube-dwellers dream. But whenever I seriously think about doing what you are Mark I encounter issues and I'd love to hear if you have any of these and found solutions:

1) Do you have any pets? We have a dog and 4 cats and how could we not take them :-(

2) I guess your daughters will not be in school because it'll be summertime, is that the thought there?

3) Are you leaving long enough that there are citizenship, green card, visa, or whatever issues in the place you are going

My wife and I also went to Moorea and I still think about it almost once a day. People say the colors in the South Pacific are actually brighter than in the US and you are like, ""Yeah, sure."" But it's true, it's like a veil is lifted from your vision...

Good luck Mark!" -- twonoahs


"You don't need to be wealthy to travel on the cheap. My wife and I put our stuff in storage and traveled India, SE Asia and Australia/NZ for 6 months and it didn't cost too much. Happily, much of our time in Aus/NZ was spent sleeping on friends & relatives floors -- which saved a packet -- but the ""developing world"" or whatever the PC term for it is these days is pretty inexpensive to live in. The most expensive item is the plane flights, but if you can get to England cheaply, they have great travel consolidators who can find round-the-world tickets for very cheap (less that half what we found them for in the US).

Generally, any off the beaten path travelling can be done by boat or bus, as long as you have the time. In a way, the longer you go for the cheaper it can be because you're not feeling rushed into splurging on a quick flight to see Bali or Ankhor Wat.

The one splurge we had to fight against was the temptation to check into a plush hotel in Singapore or Sydney whenever we'd emerge from a month in rural India or Indonesia and were craving a hot shower with real water pressure and a night in an air conditioned room. But once you get used to paying $3 or less a night for accomodation you just can't bring yourself to pay western prices.

Good luck Mark & family. Looking forward to following your blog." -- Rich Rennicks


twonoahs, we found "foster parents" for our two cats by putting an ad in the local paper. A great couple (who already had three dogs, one cats, two snakes and a new baby -- Oi!) volunteered to take them in for the time we'd be away. They cats were fine when we got back. -- Rich Rennicks


My wife and I went to Rarotonga last year and had a blast. It's a bit touristy, but everything's on a small scale and pretty casual. There is a cross-island hike which is well worth doing. Ambala Cafe had good fusion style food. I agree with the earlier post - check out Aitutaki. There's good snorkeling in Aitutaki; we saw cool giant clams, octopi, etc etc. Have fun! -- kh


Bon voyage Mark! Looking forward to seeing your photos and reading your impressions over the next year! -- JIMWICh


congrats. i'm jealous. my wife and i are considering a move to oahu in the next few years. absolutely love it down that way. btw, does your island chronicles site have an rss feed? i couldn't find it. -- sean


"Congratulations. I can't help but think of the richly rewarding experiences your children will have and the impact on their lives as they grow older. Simply awesome. And of course, your experiences are to be envied also.

Akward Question: To afford this, are you independently wealthly, or did you save up a lot of cash for a long time, or did you discover a frugal way to pull this off by avoiding the tourist traps?" -- Paul Hughes


It's been a lot of fun reading all these messages! We are excited to go, and I have to admit, a little nervous, too, because there are so many unknowns. for instance, the South Pacific islands have been hit with a lot of dengue fever cases recently, and just last week, two kids in Tonga died from it.

To the guy who was wondering if we were rich, the answer is no. As others have pointed out here, it's an unfortunate misconception that you have to have a lot of money to travel for long periods of time. Carla and I went to London for about six months, and we came back with more money than we left with. That's because we found work within two days of getting there. I washed dishes for a couple of weeks at the Unilever cafeteria, and then I landed a great job with the Watney Mann brewery. A few years later, we went to Japan for five months. We arrived in the evening, and we were working withing 24 hours. We taught English, had our voices recorded for a voice recognition system that Toshiba was developing, were movie extras, etc. Carla landed a great modeling gig. Even though Japan was really expensive, we were very frugal and we returned with more money than we started out with. I have some articles and illustrating gigs already lined up, so we'll have some income. We are also shopping around a book idea based on this. Of course, to start out, we are dipping deeply into our savings. But we don't care. This will be worth it.

I forgot about the roosters! They bugged the hell out of me nine years ago. But now that we have kids, we usually hit the hay around 8:30 pm anyway.

I'll definitely add an RSS feed, and might start a mailing list for people who want to read our daily diaries. -- Mark Frauenfelder


Hey, Mark, re: storage. Given that you're going to be gone for a year, wouldn't it make sense to source a cheaper storage, out of town? IOW, it costs $500/mo to store your goods in LA, and it costs $200/mo for the same storage off a back-road in Nevada, and it costs $1000 to rent a truck to get the goods there, then you could save $2600 or so by hauling out to the desert... Just a thought: I assume that your busy schedule may preclude this, though. -- Cory Doctorow


Takes a lot of b*lls to make this kind of decision. But the timing's good for your girls, before school and all that crap makes this type of adventure tougher. Vaya con dios, Mark, whatever your dios is. -- chico haas


Fantastic! What a great time to take a break from the U.S.; hopefully things will have changed for the better by the time you get back. Wish I had your hutzpah. -- Sven


"Quite inspiring Mark. I'm sure you you'll find a perspective that only comes from idyllic isolation. I found mine in a deserted bamboo hut on the island of Ko Lipe of the coast of Thailand. Three weeks of silence, books, guitar and the sounds of waves. I couldn't believe the amount of creativity that just drips from your fingernails when your world ceases to be filled with petrol fumes and the assalt of aural chaos.

I'm looking forward to the blogs." -- dubiousalibi


Mark - have a good trip. The money thing didn't strike me as a problem, I've done longish trips on the cheap before, but traveling that long with kids! That sounds fun for values of "fun" that can be best appreciated several years later. -- Eli the Bearded


I'm green with envy as I read your plans and the other posts on this site. My husband previously posted today with some of our findings from our travel in 1998 (Europe, S and SE Asia, Aust. and NZ) but I would add that taking an 8 week old is not nec. as challeneging as many might think: if she's a nursing baby she'll be pretty happy wherever you go. I hope your older daughter is able to really absorb as much as possible on this once in a lifetime kind of trip!

We have traveled a good bit since our daughter was born (2.5 years ago) and found that if you are willing to go with the flow (and how can you do anything but in the Pacific Islands?) and go-native it can be a wonderful experience.... esp. when you see places through the curious, non-jaded eyes of a young child.

I wish you the best of luck and would like to say we'll be doing something similar someday!" -- Jen Rennicks


"Jen (/m44) I've got a 2 1/2 year old who has flown cross country every 9 months or so, and traveled to Singapore. I'm familiar with traveling with a baby. I still think it is a lot harder than traveling with just adults.

To back up Mark's skimping bit, when I was traveling in Italy (about 12 years ago) I budgeted 5000 lira a day on food. At the time the exchange rate was something like 1500 to the dollar.

(Yes, I lost weight on that trip.)" -- Eli the Bearded


"I spent 2 weeks in Paris for around $1200. and lived quite high off the hog, I thought. I saved frequent flier miles by paying EVERYTHING with a credit card, found a good, cheap hotel at chat area and took the subway, which was an adventure of its own.

Travel doesn't have to be expensive unless you want to go whole hog. I usually don't enjoy top drawer hotels and restaurants and private tour guides etc...too far removed from the people." -- psyork


"Hi Mark. Your girls will learn more than you ever know by exposing them to a different culture and way of life at a young age. When I was eight my parents move us to American Samoa in the South Pacific where we lived for two years. I have fond memories of living there and some day will go back.

I'm currently, at age 30, debating on whether to go spend the summer in Siberia. -- Cameron Barrett

-=W=-" Thomas Terashima

I spent a few weeks in Rarotonga & Aitutaki in 1995, and absolutely loved it. I met some amazing folks there, and the beauty of the island, along with the friendliness of the locals, was so welcoming. There is definitely peace of mind in living simply, and the Cook Islands couldn't be a better place to do so. At the time of my visit, I was a freelance graphic designer living in Hawaii, and all of my clients were back on the mainland. It worked out just fine to telecommute then, and I had even pondered trying a Cook Islands extended stay. Now with technology being even better than 1995, I bet that freelancing long distance won't be a problem. Reading about your adventurous move, and seeing the photos of Rarotonga has brought back great memories of those wonderful islands, and I hope to return for a visit one day soon with my husband. Very best of luck to you and your family on your adventurous move. Its quite inspiring, indeed. -- mp


I lived in Micronesia for 8 years in Guam and now live in Hawaii. Your experience will change you forever. I hope you left your watch in the states as Island time is much different than mainland time. Enjoy the islands take a deep breath of the ocean air. Get in the water and snorkle every chance you get. Unfortunately in some of the South Pacific Islands people are under dire financial strain and you will understand that poverty is abundant. If you want to move around try an island in Micronesia Palau and Truk are truly amazing along with Guam and Saipan. You will not experience more friendly people the entire world. Prepare yourself for culture shock when you return to the US because people just don't know how to slow down and live. -- Todd


" Have fun...I'm green with envy. I think the greatest thing you will get from this will be the precious time you will spend with your kids. Good luck ! Best regards -- Chris C Doyle


"Your courage and sense of adventure is truly admirable. Worthy of the Mosquito Coast (by Paul Theroux). My old girlfriend lives a similar lifestyle on a remote island in the Philippines. ( I still hope to build a seashell house there one day. It truly is paradise, but with plenty of hidden disasters that are not easily forseeable. The tropics does have its extremes that the unsuspecting American might not be quite prepared for, like insidious diseases, very poisonous animals, carnivourous hustlers, or the sheer disconnect from the 21st century. The psychic leap from island life to urban life is quite a mind f*ck. Exhilerating, yes, but difficult to maintain both ends of the spectrum simultaneously. Unless you are really rich, or have a benefactor, you have to commit to either one lifestyle or the other. But what a worthy experiment!

best of luck! -- Thomas Williams


"Best of luck and hope you enjoy your stay. The center of the universe and paradise are actually at Tokomaru bay in New Zealand Population less than 400. Has a direct historic link with Rarotonga. We still fly the Cook Island flag on special occasions.

Glad to see you go Tropo!!!!" -- Bill Rosoman


You folks are doing what I can only dream about. I will follow your progress and that way I can be there with you. So I would like to know how to do just that. Thank You and may God Bless you -- Deran Wyatt


I knows how ya feels - and, like everyone else, I wish I could do it, it's always been a dream, etc. etc.

I just hope you guys don't get the ""Castaway Syndrome"": ie. a 21st Century citizen LOVES it at first, but then soon comes to realize that this isn't an extended vacation at a 5-Star resort -- that it's permanent -- and then can't WAIT to get outta there fast enough!

I hope it works out for you!!! BTW, how do you communicate

through the Internet? -- Cary


Hi guys, I mentioned your story on The Daily Czech, - a Prague-based weblog in English. I wish I could do the same. I could leave any day now.... -- Peter


"I think what you're doing is wonderful. You actually did what most of us can only wish for. You deserve some credit.

Visit me, if you will, at for a touch back to a college-age girl still living the, um, nightmare!" -- Shannon J.


What a beautiful family! I traveled overseas with my parents when I was five too, but have so few and fleeting memories of the experience. Maybe one day the daughters will use The Island Chronicles as a way to help them remember. -- Guava


Congratulations on your decision to move to Rarotonga. What a magical place!

I too am an Angeleno (I live in Pasadena) but have had South Pacific Island fever since childhood.

I was last in Raro in 1996 to set up the exhibition at the National Museum for the centennial of the birth of Robert Dean Frisbie. (I believe there are still some wonderful RDF memorabilia at the museum.)

Have you contacted any Frisbie family members yet?

I'd love to chat with you guys some time. Please write:

Much aloha! -- Michael Uhlenkott


"Wow... have to say that is something that I have always considered. My brief time in Ghana made me realize that I am capable of living without a lot of the ""American essentials"" Some day.... -- Wild Snowflake


Thank You for sharing this experience with us.I'm fascinated with the whole idea-you are living out the fantasies that so many of us dream about as we rot in our cubicles at work! -- Bill


Wishing you all the best in your adventure. Make sure you keep everyone posted, coz I am sure a lot of people will be following it.

Whether it works out long term or not, whats important is that u took a step towards realising a dream, which is MUCH more than what most of us ever do!" -- Sudeep


"My husband and I up and moved to Edinburgh Scotland and ended up living there quite happily for 2 yrs. Although it wasn't the experience you are gearing up for, I will tell you that I would do it again in a minute. It gave me a much different perspective of my life on the West Coast of the US and I'm thankful for it. It was not easy, but nothing worth doing ever is. Good luck. -- Melanie


James Norman Hall (a famous writer) moved to papeete, tahiti I think after world war one and he along with charles nordhoff wrote ""mutiny on the bounty"" amoung other books. You may be aware of this already. I own a first edition of James Halls' book: ""My Island Home"" (an autobiography) and it is very good. Also, I think the Tahitian Islands and all that area around there (cook Islands) are probably a popular place for many different people to escape to--even from europe. Chuck Henry (Channel 4 Los Angeles TV) recently did a report or special feature on the Cook Islands. Marlon Brando, the famous actor (I'm not sure how to spell his name) owns an island around the Tahiti area. Paul Guigan (spelling?) the famous painter dropped out to the Tahitian Islands with little money and became very famous with his paintings. You probably won't impact the area because the area has already been ""impacted"" by thousands, maybe millions of outsiders already. And I bet they get satellite TV. I haven't read this book yet, but you might consider reading: The South Seas Dream (an adventure in paradise) by John Dyson. So, even if it doesn't work out for you in the long run, you can always come back to california and live on the high desert with a slower lifestyle like me. Good Luck, -- messtime


"This is not at all the same thing, but I wanted to put my 2 cents' worth in about changing lifestyle: A few years ago I moved out of my newly-built dream house in suburbia into a 100-year-old house in the city. I live in an area where most pizza places won't deliver, where a drive-by gang murder occurred about a month ago (at about 3:30 in the afternoon when the elementary kids were walking home from school), where home ownership is really low and the incidence of police helicopters flying overhead is really high---well, you get the idea. And even though I get a little nervous sometimes, I feel so much more ""real"" here than I did in suburbia. (And I don't own a car anymore).

All I mean to say is that it can be an amazing thing when you do something like this. It doesn't have to be what I did or what you guys are doing, but anything that makes you think differently about yourself and other people. I just think that life is too short to spend it doing the same thing and thinking the same way about everything all through it.

Oh, and by the way, I'm 51 years old and I just went back to school to finish my bachelor's, too--finally!

I appreciate all the work you put into your site. It's really great." -- miteypen


I wish you luck with your move to the islands. What you will definitely get is a new perspective on life.

You will find out soon that your romatic notions of living on a tropical island do not match the reality. I fully support your search for a meaning in life that is of an altogether higher order and spiritual value than microwave food and satellite TV. I hope, however, that you will be realist enough to know that living off the land and the sea, as you describe it in your notes, quickly leads to a new kind of routine. I know several families that wanted to get out of it all and find themselves. The first couple months are great, as everything is new. Then things become routine, and a certain kind of boredom sets in. You will start to miss the amenities of life that you are so used to. Cinema, TV, shopping malls, all will become more interesting again. After one year things that you found fascinating and interesting to begin with will start to go on your nerves. The lack of variety in foods, and the length of time it takes to prepare them, the lack of varied entertainment, the lack of some sophistication in your habitat. After two years what appeared to be romantic, will appear to be unbearable. When your kids are old enough to go to school you will consider the lack of standards and quality of education on the islands. At this point at the latest, you will want to move back. Fitting back in with the modern society will be a similar experience to going to the islands.

Good luck with finding yourself, and enjoy the islands. Keep us posted on your website on developments. That's if you have internet access at your place there. -- quickthinkof1


"Mark & Carla - It figures that so many people would take this opportunity to piss in your cornflakes and make all sorts of predictions about your impending doses of island fever. Ignore them. This is your opportunity to connect, as you put it, and there is nothing more important than connecting with your spouse and with your family. While the rest of the world totes their offspring to and from daycare centers and public schools, you'll be in charge of teaching your girls what it is that you want them to learn. A sacred duty that so many parents neglect in this age. And with the quality of public education nowadays, you've hardly got anything to lose!

Godspeed - I'm envious and proud of you. Can't wait to hear all about your adventures!

- George Brandt" George of the Jungle


"Fried breadfruit is pretty good. In the Marshall Islands they make a fermented breadfruit thing called Biro. Part of the process is pulling the worms out of it after it has sat in the ground for a few days. Stick with fried.

I'm trying to think of small, useful stuff to bring to barter, and the number one thing on my list is pepto bismo tablets. Not trying to sound colonialist, they just help trememdously. And bring Giardia parasite meds. No really. And a water purifier." -- Craniac


Oh, Mark and Carla, I'm so jealous! My hubby and I have been talking about moving to an island with our 3 kids and then we found you and to see that you are doing it is just wonderful! We homeschool our children -we have an 11yr.old boy and 2 yr.old twin boys so it wouldn't be a problem at all to do the same as you. I am researching extensively now that we have the ""bug"" and any helpful suggestions would be greatly appreciated-if you have the time of course. You can reach me at I am so excited for you, unlike some hateful people that have posted! Best of luck to you on your journey. -- Faith

***I understand why you are confused. These are all old pictures, Peter. We'll start publishing our pictures after we arrive on June 21!" Mark Frauenfelder

Watch out carefully if you or family go outside at night when all activity has stopped. Wild or mistreated and abandoned Donkeys are scary and will march right up to you or anything at night you leave outside and sometimes they will charge at you for nothing your own fault. The Sea Cucumber thing I do not know about, still want to hear more about if you can eat them, I did not. As you stated from your research, the really big crabs DO come out especially at night and they will both delight and scare you. I am still very curious about the Sea Cucumbers, bnt when you or family are out at night in the dark, make sure you have a flashlight, because I have had to literally run in fear from the sounds of the wild donkeys stomping their feet behind me and the gian crabs coming out of the sides of the trail next to me. The crabs are more scary than the wild donkeys at times. At least you can smell the donkeys. The cocoanuts will be ripening just about the time you arrive, that is a big bonus if you have access to a fridge in whatever place you end up occupying. Cool milk is better than freshly dropped. Are you renting a dwelling or are you going to wait and see what happens after you arrive? You can negotiate for under 10 USD per day there if not less. What side of he island are you going to be on? There is a man named Joseph who drives a cabtruck who you will probably meet he looks like Richard Roundtree shaved head and all. Honest man, doesn't care about tips, good guy for local info.

Still curious about the Sea Cucumbers. Never saw any so big as the photo you shared. Never even ate them, but always liked to play with them when in the water.

Oh, also good would be any veggie recipes you can think of while you experience it there. Helen and I are adept at island cooking, but sometimes we forgot what the spices and vegeetables that were used in some of the native dishes.

Look forward to your next updates. -- PE2K


Just a note on Mark and Carla, whom I haven't seen for 12 years or so...back when Boing Boing was an unknown excellent zine, Mark helped me out with my own publishing experiment. He loaned me his computer when mine was down, along with his office, and tried in vain to educate me in basic computer use. Also, he introduced me to Terrence McKenna and taught me by example how to contact cool people. Carla got me invited to a university symposium. They both went out of their way, for no particular reason except that's just the way they are. Very recently, Mark taught me not to add a comment section to my blog---and that was more by accident than design.

Mark's a smart guy; Carla is just as smart and twice as pretty. (ok, I'm biased that way.)The islanders will get more out of having Mark and Carla live there than the other way around, I'll bet. It's really nice of them to let us watch part of their lives---and that's the best deal we're going to get until cloning is perfected.

That said, I recommend plenty of DEET and some antihistamines, topical and oral. You might get an allergic reaction to some of the bugs. Also, if you're playing in the surf and find a hole, refrain from poking your hand in to see how far down it goes. These things are inhabited by creatures with bad tempers who never brush their teeth. Find out which fish contain neurotoxins that could accumulate in fatty tissues and avoid serving same to dinner guests, except as a prank or possibly revenge.

You're finally going to Visit Port Watson!"-- Mr. Mongo


Jeez, what a lot of vitriol spilled here.

I'm guessing it's the disingenuous lack of details about the trip. Lots of suggestions and pretty pictures, no nuts and bolts statements. The implication is that Mark and family are heading off on an exotic adventure, never to return to the land of McDonald's and freeways. They will become slowly absorbed in the South Pacific culture, they will learn to speak island tongues, and their daughter will grow up to sell T-Shirts to tourists on the beach.

But what's really the deal? Is this a permanent move? Or is it a far more common (and therefore fairly unexceptional) short-term retreat, an escape from the States for a couple of years? A lot of people take time off to sail or backpack around the world.

And what's the lifestyle going to be like? Are you going to be living in a tent on the beach, taking up residence in a posh rented estate, buying a small bungalow? It makes a difference. Are you traipsing from one island to another? Are you really settling down, or just taking a long family trip? Is this all funded, or will you have to work? Do you have a Plan B?

In my own years as an expat I've met Americans living in the most unexpected corners of the world--including all over the South Pacific. Some of them are living on crappy boats and meager savings, some are diving instructors, some are teachers (and, more annoyingly, a lot of them are missionaries). So you'll have more American company than you perhaps expect.

Anyway, it'd be interesting to hear the more pragmatic details of the trip. -- Been There

I have answered most of most of these questions already, "Been There." There's no point in answering your other questions, though, because you are very sarcastic and have a chip on your shoulder. I don't want to waste time with someone like you. If you want to have a civil correspondence, I will be happy to start over. -- Mark


In June 2003, Mark Frauenfelder and Carla Sinclair moved from Los Angeles to the South Pacific. Our first stop is Rarotonga, a tiny island in the South Pacific. We brought our two young daughters with us.

This is our story, one photograph at a time.

Why we moved

Photo archive

About the Islands

Contact us

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