Posted by: istop4books | January 24, 2009

Getting Stoned with Savages by J. Maarten Troost

A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu by J. Maarten Troost


My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
“Paradise was always over there, a day’s sail away. But it’s a funny thing, escapism. You can go far and wide and you can keep moving on and on through places and years, but you never escape your own life. I,finally, knew where my life belonged. Home.”

That quote from the end of the book, kind of sums up the entire book: why the author went to live on the island, why he stayed and why he left. This is a really funny book, the author says everything he needs to say with a drop of humor or sarcasm – but beneath that veneer of lightness, there lie quite a few truths about living and surviving in the world of the expat. This is his second travel memoir, however, it does not read as crisply as Sex Lives of Cannibals. There is a missing element, perhaps in the end his disenchantment with French and British colonialism, come through in his writing. The book is good, but not brilliant as Sex Lives was.

Maarten Troost has decided that he wants to return to the paradise of a South Pacific island. He had lived on the atoll of Kiribati for a few years, and was pining to return to that life once again. When the opportunity presented itself to his wife, Sylvia, to return to the warmth of island paradise, they snatched it, packed and left the States for the island of Vanuatu and Fiji.

As Sylvia works for the government, Maarten has time to check out the cultural bits of the islands and explore. He learns to appreciate the local drink, Kava, and spends many hours persuing the best Kava on the islands. He describes at length the bloody history of the natives, their seemingly unending thirst for human vittles,(aka cannibalism which only officially ended in 1968!) and their tribal fighting and customs. But he also goes in to the life of the foreigner bumming around the islands, the expat living in a bubble in a foreign land, with as little contact with the natives as possible and the question of raising a child with one foot firmly planted in one world and the other foot firmly planted in another. Quite a dilemma.

View all my reviews.

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