Learning to Live With a Little
After more than 5 months in the atolls, I came to understand a bit more what it’s like to live without all the choices and abundance to which we in the US are accustomed. Life on a circular strip of coral in the middle of the Pacific is not all swaying palms and rosy sunsets. The Puamotu people couldn’t get by without a wealth of courage, creativity, maybe most importantly, a sense of humor! One of my intentions for visiting this region was to experience living with less for an extended period of time….
While provisions ran low, spirits remained high! I found it refreshing not to have the option to buy a bunch of stuff I really don’t need. It’s fun to be resourceful with what’s available. I don’t deny missing certain foods–especially fresh fruit and veggies (more specifically arugula and blueberries!)—but in another sense, it was centering to have limited options at hand. I enjoyed the challenge of making tasty culinary concoctions mostly straight from the local environment. Hearts of palm salad with a homemade vinaigrette was a favorite, along with the local staple–‘poisson cru’– raw fish with lime and coconut milk. From time to time I found someone selling veggies out of their garden–always a welcome surprise. I became an efficient bread-maker, and I came to think of making bread as a noble activity that connects me to all of bread-making and bread-breaking history… I even learned how to make yogurt–it’s SO EASY!? My first batch left me feeling a mix between astonished and ashamed to have been buying those individual plastic yogurt servings all these years! I’ll post a yogurt ‘how-to’ soon…
All in all, I learned that ‘living with a little’ made me appreciate even little things a whole LOT. My life feels richer when I can appreciate the simple joys!
It became clear that atolls are prime candidates for using wind and solar energy. In 5 months, I used less than 1/2 gallon of gasoline in the generator for Swell’s daily energy requirements–including refrigeration, lights, computer, music, water pump, etc. The solar panels and wind generator were constantly pumping amps into the batteries. There is so much wind and sun! As for transportation, approximately 12 gallons of gasoline and 8 gallons of diesel were burned between my outboard and inboard motors, probably less than I’d burn in a week in California! Clothes washed by hand. No vacuums or electric kitchen appliances…just good ol fashion broom and whisk.
Living simply can be a true pleasure and a daily adventure wherever you are!
Jim GouldJanuary 13, 2012
Bob FrancisJanuary 13, 2012
How where the waves on your last search?
guy dabneyJanuary 13, 2012
Awesome entry Liz.. thanks for sharing as always!
God bless you, Swell and all those you love,
JimJanuary 14, 2012
Morning Miss Liz ,
Good job . I’ve lived in remote places most of my adult life . When I would get to a town or city I’d feel confused & anxious . Spent a lot of winters in places where money was meaningless because there was no place to spend it . lol A person can live very well as it looks like you are doing . I’ve enjoyed the pictures you’ve posted of food . I’ve not recognized most of it , but it’s very pretty food . Colorful . Looks delicious . Last night I had oysters & pie for dinner . Hope you had something good too .
KevinJanuary 14, 2012
Less is truly more! I learned that important lesson while cruising. Great post, Liz.
mattJanuary 14, 2012
awesome liz! that is so inspiring. i am definitely looking forward to the yogurt how-to. keep it up!
Tom SantanielloJanuary 14, 2012
Welcome back Liz…You truly epitomize the Pantagonia shirt that says ” Live Simply “. There is no better way to live than with what nature has given us and to use the resouces at hand. Looking forward to that yogurt ” how to” in the future. Wishing you great waves and sunsets.
Skip AbedJanuary 15, 2012
Great to hear of your travels. I will think of you as I drive down the 101 in my Suburban!
TerryJanuary 16, 2012
Congratulations on your Voyage! I have mixed emotions of envy and pride for you. I’m here in Bali, Indonesia now but originally from Long Island. I grew up surfing there and now try to keep in touch with the ocean and surfing here. Have you been here yet? So many islands in Indonesia with so many waves. Anyway, I wish you so much success and safe passage and as you continue on your way and look forward to reading more about your adventures!
I’m also looking forward to the yogurt how to and also how is the Noni juice working out for you?
P.S. Do you have a Facebook page link on your website? Cause it doesn’t like directly to your page.
lizzyFebruary 5, 2012
Yes, I’ve been to Bali, but didn’t get to spend enough time…there is certainly more time in Indonesia in my future! I hope you saw the yogurt how to!? And the noni juice is great–so easy. I break off the ripe yellow noni. Fill up my a big container of them, then just let them sit for a week or so and eventually you see that juice drains to the bottom. I pour out that juice from time to time, and store it in the fridge. I drink a 1/4 cup full with a squeeze of lime or a little fruit juice every other day or so…One Polynesian woman also told me that it is good to bring the juice to a very light boil before storing it, to kill any lingering bacterium…
My Facebook page can be found by searching: Liz Clark and the Voyage of Swell :)
best to you!! thanks for the note,
DavidJanuary 16, 2012
Living simply means living without an over-priced Patagonia t-shirt…
lizzyFebruary 5, 2012
Maybe so, but not if you just have a few that last a really long time because they are well made… Just a thought! :) Liz
mikeJanuary 16, 2012
So elegant, so beautiful in all its simplicity. Love the post.
WayneJanuary 17, 2012
I thought you might enjoy this video if you haven’t already seen it.
DarrinJanuary 26, 2012
Looking for new post from you Liz. Reading your blog reads like an adventure novel. Started from the beginning and read to now. Looking forward to your next post. Thanks for the adventure vicariously through you.
JodiJanuary 26, 2012
Thank you for sharing your journey. My husband and I are leaving next year for the South Pacific as well. What do you have for solar panels (how many watts), battery banks and wind? We are debating various equipment and would love to know what the specifics are that support your lifestyle as we prioritize our purchases (and drop some options for budget reasons!). Is there a section on your website we are missing with the facts of the boat and its systems?
I know what you mean about the yogurt, we started making our own a few years ago and love it. It’s easy, economical and skips use of plastic. Are you using coconut milk or are there milk animals where you are?
If you get somewhere a bit cooler, saurkraut is another thing that is ridiculously easy to make and tastes soo much better than the stuff you get in the store!
Enjoy your discoveries!
joFebruary 1, 2012
Hiya Liz, I was wondering where you got to….Great to read this, brings back good memories, I want your yogurt recipe, the last time I tried to make cheese and ended up with maggots…Hope to see you soon.
Jo and Guillaume xxx
هتلFebruary 15, 2012
very great voyage
i will follow you
it is my dream
thanks for sharing lizzy
HeatherMarch 31, 2012
“In 5 months, I used less than 1/2 gallon of gasoline in the generator for Swell’s daily energy requirements–including refrigeration, lights, computer, music, water pump, etc.” This comment left me FLOORED! AWESOME!!!!