This is the cover art I have designed for my memoir of the same name Nightmare in Paradise.
Let me tell you about MY NIGHTMARE IN PARADISE
Firstly I want you to imagine that you have come to Vanuatu as a tourist and decide to visit Tanna to see the World’s most accessible active volcano and you stay at White Grass resort. The culture change starts at the domestic terminal in Vila where you as well as your luggage are weighed before being shown to either the 6 seat islander or 22 seat Dehavilland Otter. You might be one of a couple of Europeans. The rest are local people who are clearly terrified, bundles of manioc and kava root. Fear, you find, has its own smell. A very strong BO with a definite edge which, mixed with the earthy smell from the roots and the odour of the aviation fuel leads to a memorable but uncomfortable flight. You realise you have begun your descent when sea changes to jungle and that appears to be almost touching distance. But where is the runway? You bounce down in a clearing on a grass strip which undulates, up and down until you finally bounce to a stop outside a square cement building with lots of locals milling about and the sign in big red letters Tanna International Airport greets you. No-one comes to meet you. White Grass workers are too shy to talk to strangers. You look about and may find your eyes staring at a bare breasted woman suckling a piglet. You start to feel more than a little nervous.
Nothing dispels this feeling as you get taken in the dual cab truck loaded with locals and vegetables in the tray at the back passing through what you are told is the town of Lenakel. It is like no town you know, just a couple of square block buildings, no houses then into the jungle for the half hour drive down a dirt track with occasional glimpses of a dirt clearing and a few rudimentary thatched huts.Finally you arrive pleasantly surprised at the beach side bungalows. But you are the only guests.There is solar powered dim lighting but otherwise no electricity, you can’t get a cold drink, the locals can’t or won’t speak English and you know you can’t escape. You feel isolated and abandoned. If you are lucky the volcano tour goes without a hitch and the remembrance of standing on the edge as it throws up red hot rocks and smoke will overcome that fear and panic that initially beset you. Your visit to the custom village takes you back to a different age and you know that these penis sheathed men and grass skirted women are not orchestrating this for the tourists. You know this is the way people live here irregardless of whether they wear clothes or not. You realise that life here has changed little from early, primitive times.
This is the world in which we placed ourselves for a period of four years when we went into partnership with the head chief of the island running the small resort of White Grass.
Nightmare in Paradise is the story of us as a young couple taking a giant leap into an unknown world, of our dreams and the struggle to make those dreams become reality and then the struggle just to keep the dream alive. It is the story of another, older world steeped in custom, tradition with witchdoctors and chiefs, ceremonies and magic. It is the death of our dreams with the kidnap of Roger. It is our despair as we are ordered back to the island whilst fighting for our equity rights in the courts and our new traumas on the island as we have a tourist killed at the volcano by a piece of flying lava, and having our residency and our right to work revoked. It is the story of our eventual triumph. It’s look at our life on the island and our interaction with local life. It is dramatic, yet often humorous. It is a book that you won’t be able to put down. It is Nightmare in Paradise.
This memoir is not yet published but is close to it.
In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge