The American on Suicide Watch and Clownfish in Vanuatu

Reception The HavannahThree blood-curdling screams should be enough for one day in Vanuatu. It’s a reflex, and I can’t help it. I suspect the staff is used to hearing such noises. It could be a guest falling off the cliff to her death, or somebody getting knifed in the gut or a roof caving in but we all know what guests in Vanuatu scream about, and it’s none of those things.

Perhaps I should clarify and say guests who aren’t from Australia. Those Aussies, they’re tough. And it’s probably not guests from Asia because they eat stuff some of us would rather not even think about much less drop live into our mouths. If I had to guess, I’d say it would be Americans and probably those from Great Britain.

Bred Banque Pink Van PortalFirst, I nonchalantly opened my 12-foot tall door and felt something fall on my arm. Casually glancing down, I discovered it was a gecko! A Bob Fosse flattened Gumby creature. No thinking, just screams and flinging my arm about so hard I’m astonished I didn’t rip it out of its socket. The gecko landed in the corner, behind a tall and heavy ceramic vase filled with swords made out of bamboo. I grabbed an umbrella and tried to coax the critter outdoors. Instead, the gecko ran into the vase.

I couldn’t lift the vase, so I laid it on its side and rolled it to the doorway and then shoved it outside. Once I saw the gecko had departed, I set the vase right side up but I could not maneuver it back inside. Oh, well, the Havannah staff will wonder what it’s doing under my canopy, shake their heads and say silly American on suicide watch.

That’s what my husband says they are probably thinking about me because I am a married woman who is spending Christmas and New Years on an island by herself in a foreign country. In their minds, there is only one reason a woman would do this and that’s because she’s getting ready to kill herself.

Guy sweepig streetBut not before I look up clownfish and go snorkeling in Vanuatu to find them. They live in families with a hierarchy. Victoria shared this fact, and I checked it out. And some of them do look exactly like Nemo. They rank in size according to their place in the family, which is always headed by a female. Not only that, but they can’t grow bigger unless one of them dies, kind of like those nesting Russian dolls, they each are a certain size in direct proportion to each other.

The astonishing thing is when the top clownfish dies, if the next clownfish in line is a male, the male must turn into a female before assuming leadership. And the sex change is not reversible. I am woman, hear me roar!

I was considering snorkeling around the harbor today when it started to rain. Instead, I cleaned up my villa, picked up an empty wine glass and carried it to the sink. More shrieks. At first I thought it was residue from the Shiraz but no, it was a giant beetle. He must have flown into the glass because he was so big that if he tried to climb up the side he would knock it over. He just sat there, lapping up Shiraz, and I could see a contented smile on its face. Either that or he had drowned.

Whipping my mini-bar menu over the glass, I carefully carried him outside and deposited his body in my neighbor’s yard. Go, be friends with somebody else, I whispered. Then, tonight, just as I was returned from a 90-minute full body massage and settled on my sofa to watch the sun set, I spotted an even larger gecko scamper across my iPod stereo. Third loud shriek in one day. Nobody came running.

I guess they figure housekeeping will find my dead body, and that’s soon enough at The Havannah. Everything can wait until the next day. Like snorkeling the harbor to find clownfish in Vanuatu.

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